From the Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy liner notes by Brian Cady:
Produced by Kit Lambert in London the week of Oct. 3, 1966.
"This is a longer and more relaxed version of the single which was edited and had fancy voices added. The song, of course, is about a boy whose mother dresses him up as a girl and won't let him enjoy all the normal boyish pranks like slitting lizards' tummies and throwing rocks at passing cars. Real Alice Cooper syndrome. Of course Zappa said it all when he wrote the original Rock Opera. Nobody noticed, so he had to write a satire on the one Rock Opera people did notice. 'I'm A Boy' was my first attempt at a Rock Opera. Of course the subject matter is a little thin, then what of Tommy?"
Released in the U.K. as Reaction 591004 on August 26, 1966 and charting at #2 (#1 in Melody Maker). The U.S. release, on Decca 32058, was delayed until December 10, 1966. It failed to chart.
The version on Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy was intended for an early version of the A Quick One album and has been issued on CD only on the U.S./Canadian Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy.
An edited mono version also appears on a bonus disc included with the first run of The Who: The Ultimate Collection.
From the Live at Leeds liner notes by Chris Charlesworth with additions by Brian Cady:
'I'm A Boy' was originally written as part of a longer project called Quads, a Townshend tale set in the future when parents could choose the sex of their children. The family in the story requested four girls but got three girls and a boy, and this single is the boy's lament at the error. With lyrics quite unlike any other pop song of the period, it tips a hat to The Beach Boys with its high harmonies, but the great counterpoint between guitar and drums is 100% Who.
The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios on August 1, 1966 and released as a single just over three weeks later , on August 26. Unfortunately it stalled at #2 in the U.K. charts (but spent two weeks at #1 in the Melody Maker charts - hence Pete's 'half hour' remark) while The Small Faces – featuring Kenney Jones on drums – occupied the top spot with 'All Or Nothing.'
The original single was unceremoniously dumped by Decca Records on the U.S. market four months after its U.K. release, on December 10, 1966, and, naturally, it failed to chart.
A live version from 1999 is on The Blues To The Bush. Track 8 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.
One girl was called Jean Marie
Another little girl was Felicity
Another little girl was Sally Joy
The other was me, and I'm a boy
My name is Bill, and I'm a head case
They practice making up on my face
Yeah, I feel lucky if I get trousers to wear
Spend evenings taking hairpins from my hair
I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But my ma won't admit it
I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But if I say I am, I get it
Put your frock on, Jean Marie
Plait your hair, Felicity
Paint your nails, little Sally Joy
Put this wig on, little boy
Wanna play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the street
Cut myself and see my blood
Wanna come home all covered in mud