A Man I'll Never Be

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"A Man I'll Never Be"
A Man I'll Never Be Cover.jpg
Single by Boston
from the album Don't Look Back
B-side "Don't Be Afraid"
Released 1979
Format Single
Recorded 1977–1978
Genre Rock
Length 6:37
Label Epic
Writer(s) Tom Scholz
Producer(s) Tom Scholz
Boston singles chronology
"Don't Look Back"
"A Man I'll Never Be"
"Feelin' Satisfied"

"A Man I'll Never Be" is a song written by Tom Scholz and first released on Boston's 1978 album Don't Look Back. It was also released as a single and reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks on the chart.[1][2] It also reached #27 in Canada.[3]

"A Man I'll Never Be" is a change of pace from the songs on Boston's debut album and some of the other songs on Don't Look Back. Allmusic critic Tim Sendra claimed that the song reveals "a reflective side that was nowhere to be found on Boston."[4] Paul Grein of Billboard commented on the song's "religious feel," describing it as "the softest cut on the album" and noting that "it may well be a strong single."[5] Grein also commented on the song's "moody organ solo" and "ponderous ballad sound."[5] New West magazine described the song's subject as "how hard it is to live up to a girl's image of a boy."[6] Rolling Stone critic Ken Emerson compared "A Man I'll Never Be" to Led Zeppelin's lengthy classic song "Stairway to Heaven."[7] On Boston's official site, David Wild described the song as "a slowburning power ballad reflecting real grown-up concerns and lived-in reality."[7] Craig Rosen of Billboard Magazine concurred in describing the song as a power ballad.[8] Los Angeles Times critic Jon Matsumoto called the song "a grandiose guilty pleasure."[9] On the other hand, Milo Miles of Boston Phoenix called it a long stretch "of immaculate self-abuse."[10]

Brad Delp sang the lead vocal on "A Man I'll Never Be," and Scholz played lead and rhythm guitar, organ and piano.[7] The song was mostly recorded at Scholz' Hideaway Studio, although the piano part was recorded by engineer and admitted self-promoter David 'db' Butler (erroneously credited as "Dave Butler" on the liner notes) at Northern Studio in Maynard, Massachusetts allegedly because Hideaway was too small to fit the piano.[7][8] In truth Scholz had found the Steinway piano of his dreams only to have it sold out from under him before he could buy it and record it.[citation needed] The Yamaha grand at Northern Studios was legendary in the area for its great tone and Scholz decided he didn't want to spend the time to find another piano after some experimenting with the Northern Studio's piano with the help of Butler.[citation needed] Boston played "A Man I'll Never Be" live on the tour supporting their first album before recording it for Don't Look Back.[11] Footnote: 'db' Butler was the only credited engineer on a Boston recording besides Scholz for the first 3 albums.

"A Man I'll Never Be" was later released on Boston's Greatest Hits in 1997.[12] DGM covered the song on their 2007 album Different Shapes.[13] Extreme covered the song live.[14]


  1. ^ "Boston charts and awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, J. (2010). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Complete Chart Information about America's Most Popular Songs and Artists, 1955-2009 (9th ed.). Random House. p. 81. ISBN 9780823085545. 
  3. ^ "RPM 100 Singles". Library and Archives Canada. January 27, 1979. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  4. ^ Sendra, T. "Don't Look Back". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  5. ^ a b Grein, P. (September 2, 1978). "Closeup". Billboard. p. 80. 
  6. ^ New West. 4. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  7. ^ a b c d Wild, D. "Don't Look Back". Boston. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  8. ^ a b Rosen, C. (1996). Number One Albums. Billboard Books. p. 230. ISBN 0823075869. 
  9. ^ Matsumoto, J. (August 11, 1997). "Hey, Boston: 'Don't Look Back'". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Miles, M. (October 21, 1986). "Pop-pourri: Boston Take It to the Third Stage". Boston Phoenix. p. 40. 
  11. ^ Miller, C. "Boston: Heaven is a Reel-to-Reel Tape". thirdstage.ca. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  12. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Greatest Hits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  13. ^ "Different Shapes". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  14. ^ "Come Together: A Tribute To The Life Of Brad Delp at the Bank Of America Pavilion on August 18". Boston Music Spotlight. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 

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