Nowhere Man (song)
Northern Songs sheet music cover
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Rubber Soul|
|Released||3 December 1965|
|Recorded||21–22 October 1965|
|Single by the Beatles|
|from the album Yesterday and Today|
|B-side||"What Goes On"|
|Released||21 February 1966 (US)|
|Recorded||21–22 October 1965|
|Studio||EMI Studios, London|
|The Beatles US singles chronology|
"Nowhere Man" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, except for in the United States and Canada, where it was first issued as a single A-side in February 1966 before appearing on the album Yesterday and Today. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In the US, the single peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the chart compiled by Record World magazine, as it did the RPM 100 chart in Canada. The song was also released as a single in some countries where it had been included on Rubber Soul, including Australia, where it topped the singles chart.
Recorded on 21 and 22 October 1965, "Nowhere Man" is one of the first Beatles songs to be entirely unrelated to romance or love, and marks a notable example of Lennon's philosophically oriented songwriting. Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison sing the song in three-part harmony. The lead guitar solo was performed in unison by Harrison and Lennon. The pair played identical "sonic blue"-coloured Fender Stratocasters on the track. The song appears in the film Yellow Submarine, where the Beatles sing it about the character Jeremy Hillary Boob after meeting him in the "nowhere land".
Lennon wrote the song about himself after racking his brain in desperation for five hours trying to come up with another song for Rubber Soul. Lennon told Playboy magazine:
I'd spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down.
McCartney said of the song:
That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up. I think at that point, he was a bit...wondering where he was going, and to be truthful so was I. I was starting to worry about him.
The song begins with the chord of E (I tonic) on "He's a real" and then involves a 5–4–3–2–1 pitch descent between the B (V dominant) chord on "nowhere man" and A (IV subdominant) chord on "sitting in"; a twist comes where Am (iv minor) replaces A in the final line ("nowhere plans") and the simultaneous G♯ note melody creates a dissonant AmM7. The refrain, which appears three times, seesaws on a G♯ minor/A major (iii–IV) sequence before falling back on an F♯ minor and leading back to the verse on a B7.
The final note of the guitar solo uses a string harmonic to create a high, bell-sounding note.
- John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, lead guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, harmony vocal
- George Harrison – lead guitar, harmony vocal
- Ringo Starr – drums
- A Tiny Tim cover of the song is part of The Beatles' 1968 Christmas record.
- In 1981, Stars on 45 covered this song as part of an eight-song Beatles medley in "Stars on 45", which went to #1 in the US.
Charts and certifications
- Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Nowhere Man"
- Gilliland 1969, show 35.
- Unterberger 2009.
- Everett 2001, p. 322.
- Winn 2008, p. 367.
- Babiuk 2002, p. 157.
- Playboy, September 1980.
- Playboy, December 1984.
- Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p 193
- MacDonald 2005, p. 172.
- Spizer 2003, pp. 218–219.
- Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
- "Austriancharts.at – The Beatles – Nowhere Man" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2016.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5709." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34.
- "Record World 100 Top Pops – Week of April 2, 1966". Record World. 2 April 1966. p. 17.
- "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "The Beatles Single-Chartverfolgung (in German)". musicline.de. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "American single certifications – The Beatles – Nowhere Man". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 14 May 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
- Babiuk, Andy (2002). Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments, from Stage to Studio. San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-731-8.
- Everett, Walter (2001). The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514105-9.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance". Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song, Harper, New York: 1994, ISBN 0-06-095065-X
- Unterberger, Richie (2009). "Rubber Soul [UK]". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Winn, John C. (2008). Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume One, 1962–1965. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-3074-5239-9.
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