Nowhere Man (song)

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"Nowhere Man"
Song by the Beatles
from the album Rubber Soul
Released 3 December 1965
Recorded 21–22 October 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Folk rock[1]
Length 2:44
Label Parlophone
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
Audio sample
"Nowhere Man"
What Goes On.jpg
Single by the Beatles
from the album Yesterday and Today
B-side "What Goes On"
Released 21 February 1966 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 21–22 October 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Folk rock[1]
Length 2:44
Label Capitol
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles US singles chronology
"We Can Work It Out" / "Day Tripper"
"Nowhere Man"
"Paperback Writer"
"We Can Work It Out"/
"Day Tripper"
"Nowhere Man"
"Paperback Writer"

"Nowhere Man" is a song by the Beatles, from the British version of their album Rubber Soul.[2] The song was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney).

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.[3] 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".

The lead guitar lines on the song were performed in unison by Harrison and Lennon.[4][5] The pair played identical "sonic blue"-coloured Fender Stratocasters.[6]


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.[7]

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.[8]

Musical structure[edit]

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.[9] 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.


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[10]

Other recordings[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]


  1. ^ a b Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Nowhere Man"
  2. ^ Gilliland 1969, show 35.
  3. ^ Unterberger 2009.
  4. ^ Everett 2001, p. 322.
  5. ^ Winn 2008, p. 367.
  6. ^ Babiuk 2002, p. 157.
  7. ^ Playboy, September 1980.
  8. ^ Playboy, December 1984.
  9. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p 193
  10. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 172.
  11. ^ Spizer 2003, pp. 218–219.
  12. ^ "66 - 'Nowhere Man'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  14. ^ " – The Beatles – Nowhere Man" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5709." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  16. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  17. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34. 
  18. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  19. ^ "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


External links[edit]