Nowhere Man (song)
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Rubber Soul|
|Released||3 December 1965|
|Recorded||21–22 October 1965,
EMI Studios, London
|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,
EMI Studios, London
|The Beatles US singles chronology|
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 instance of Lennon's philosophically oriented songwriting. It was released as a single (although not in the United Kingdom) on 21 February 1966, and reached number 1 in Australia and Canada and number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Similarly to what had happened a year earlier ("Eight Days a Week" and "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" were on Beatles for Sale but not on Beatles '65), "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On" were not on the US version of Rubber Soul (released in December around the same time as the British version), but were back-to-back on a subsequent single and later (in June) on an album (Yesterday and Today).
Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison sing the song in three-part harmony. 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 (solo)
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, harmony vocal
- George Harrison – lead guitar, harmony vocal
- Ringo Starr – drums
- The Settlers, The Brothers Four and the Three Good Reasons recorded the song in 1966.
- In 1967, the Carpenters performed a piano/vocal version in Joe Osborn's garage studio. Richard Carpenter used the original demo to create a version that was released on As Time Goes By in 2001.
- In 1967, Indexi covered this song with the title Jednom smo se svađali.
- A Tiny Tim cover of the song is part of The Beatles' 1968 Christmas record.
- In 1969, Gershon Kingsley recorded a version featuring the Moog synthesiser on the album Music to Moog By.
- In 1976, Jeff Lynne recorded it for the musical documentary All This and World War II.
- 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.
- In 1988, Greek composer Yanni recorded an instrumental version as a bonus track in the 1988 film score Steal the Sky.
- Randy Travis recorded a version for the 1995 Beatles' tribute Come Together: America Salutes The Beatles.
- In 1996, Dokken recorded an acoustic version on their One Live Night album.
- Joe Pass released an instrumental version on his album Simplicity / A Sign of the Times.
- Marky Ramone and the Intruders have a cover on their 1999 album The Answer to Your Problems?.
- The Smashing Pumpkins also released a cover of the song in their Live Smashing Pumpkins album series. "'Nowhere Man' is such a beautiful pop song with a groundbreaking, existential lyric," said Billy Corgan. "It lets you see that moment of discovery." 
- Paul Westerberg recorded a version for the soundtrack to I Am Sam released in 2002.
- Low recorded a version featured on the 2005 Beatles' tribute album, This Bird Has Flown - A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul.
- Mortal recorded a version on their album, Wake. Though the band was an industrial outfit, little was changed from the Beatles' original version.
- A version performed by Chris While appears on the album Rubber Folk (2006), a compilation of Beatles' songs performed by various artists.
- A 1986 recording by The Replacements is featured on the 2017 live album For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986.
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.
- "66 - 'Nowhere Man'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- 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.
- "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "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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