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“Nowhere Man”

Beatles quotes about “Nowhere Man”

JOHN 1980: “I’d spent five hours that morning trying to wite 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. So letting it go is what the whole game is. You put your finger on it, it slips away, right? You know, you turn the lights on and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them.”

PAUL 1984: “That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up. I think at that point in his life, he was a bit wondering where he was going.”

PAUL 1988: “I remember we wanted very treble-y guitars– which they are– they’re among the most treble-y guitars I’ve ever heard on record. The engineer said, ‘Alright, I’ll put full treble on it,’ and we said, ‘That’s not enough.’ He said, ‘But that’s all I’ve got.’ And we replied, ‘Well, put that through another lot of faders and put full treble up on that. And if that’s not enough we’ll go through another lot of faders.’ They said, ‘We don’t do that,’ and we would say, ‘Just try it… if it sounds crappy we’ll lose it, but it might just sound good.’ You’d then find, ‘Oh it worked,’ and they were secretly glad because they had been the engineer who put three times the allowed value of treble on a song. I think they were quietly proud of those things.”

About “Nowhere Man”

Beatles' "Nowhere man / Norvegian Wood" single
Beatles’ “Nowhere man / Norvegian Wood” single

“Nowhere Man” was released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, except 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 the Lennon–McCartney partnership. 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 and in Australia. 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” describes a man with no direction in his life and with no genuine worldview. It 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”.

Personnel

  • John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, lead guitar
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar, harmony vocal
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, harmony vocal
  • Ringo Starr – drums