For No One

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"For No One"
For No One sheet music cover.jpg
Cover of the Northern Songs sheet music (licensed to Sonora Musikförlag)
Song by the Beatles
from the album Revolver
PublishedNorthern Songs
Released5 August 1966
Recorded9, 16 and 19 May 1966
StudioEMI, London
Producer(s)George Martin

"For No One" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1966 album Revolver. It was written by Paul McCartney, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. A blend of baroque pop[1][2] and chamber music,[3] the song is about the end of a relationship, it was one of McCartney's most mature and poignant works upon its release. Mostly performed by the composer, the track is distinguished by its French horn solo, performed by Alan Civil and used as counterpoint in the final verse.

John Lennon said of the song, "One of my favourites of his—a nice piece of work."[4]

Writing and recording[edit]

McCartney recalls writing "For No One" in the bathroom of a ski resort in the Swiss Alps[5] while on holiday with his then girlfriend Jane Asher.[6] He said, "I suspect it was about another argument."[6] The lyrics end enigmatically with "...a love that should have lasted years ..." The song's working title was "Why Did It Die?"[7] It is built upon a descending scale progression with a refrain that modulates to the supertonic minor.

The song was recorded on 9, 16 and 19 May 1966. McCartney sang and played clavichord (rented from George Martin's AIR company), piano and bass guitar, while Ringo Starr played drums, tambourine and maracas.[8][9] John Lennon and George Harrison did not contribute to the recording.[10]

The French horn solo was by Alan Civil, a British horn player described by recording engineer Geoff Emerick as the "best horn player in London".[11] During the session, McCartney pushed Civil to play a note that was beyond the usual range of the instrument. According to Emerick, the result was the "performance of his life."[11] Civil said that the song was "recorded in rather bad musical style, in that it was 'in the cracks', neither B-flat nor B-major. This posed a certain difficulty in tuning my instrument."[12]


Thomas Ward of AllMusic describes "For No One" as "one of Paul McCartney's great ballads with the Beatles," writing that it is "a simply beautiful song, full of idiosyncratic McCartney touches yet undeniably inspired."[13] Ward praises McCartney's vocal performance and calls the song's melody "one of the most inspired of the singer's whole career."[13] Ward also praises the bass line and French horn solo, concluding his review by calling the song "one of the most delicate and fine ballads of the Beatles entire canon."[13] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone praised McCartney's songwriting on Revolver, writing "[his songs] have a new caustic realism."[14] Sheffield called "For No One" the "ultimate 'you stay home, she goes out' break-up song."[14]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[15]


  1. ^ "Steve Smith: Wyman and Taylor join the Rolling Stones onstage; Coldplay takes a break". Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2016.. Pasadena Star-News. 29 November 2012.
  2. ^ Parsons, Matthew (7 January 2016). "25 classical pieces with surprising Beatles connections". CBC Music. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  3. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-74320-169-8.
  4. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 209.
  5. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 207.
  6. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 289.
  7. ^ Dowlding 1989, p. 142.
  8. ^ Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. ISBN 9780195129410.
  9. ^ "For No One (song)". The Paul McCartney project. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  10. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 78–79.
  11. ^ a b Emerick & Massey 2006, pp. 128–129.
  12. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 79.
  13. ^ a b c Ward, Thomas. ""For No One" – The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  14. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (5 August 2016). "Celebrating 'Revolver': Beatles' First On-Purpose Masterpiece". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  15. ^ MacDonald 2005, pp. 205–206.


External links[edit]