This was written by country music star Hoyt Axton and bass player David Jackson. The song takes a humorous look at someone who is constantly offered drugs and alcohol (marijuana from Columbia, cocaine from Majorca, moonshine from Nashville...) and keeps turning them down.
Axton struggled with drug abuse early in his career and was poking fun at himself in the song. Axton, who also wrote the Three Dog Night hit "Joy To The World," had a talent for writing whimsical pop songs with a country flavor.
Ringo sings this with more than a hint of irony, as he was far from sober at the time. In interviews, he would cheekily refer to it as "an anti-drug song," which it is, as the singer describes the consequences of his addictions (waking up on the floor). Ringo was not interested in giving up his habits at the time, but in 1988 he entered rehab with his wife, Barbara. He later described his years of addiction as being a very lonely time.
In a 2007 Time magazine interview, Ringo was asked about his most memorable guest artists in the studio. His reply: "Hoyt Axton was one of them on the Ringo album. We were doing 'No No Song' with the biggest spliff and a large bottle of Jack Daniel's."
At the very end of this song, Ringo very quietly speaks some dialogue in a drunken slur, which is made even less intelligible because different words are spoken in each channel. On the right channel, he says something like "I'll just have another drink, have you got any brandy?" and on left, "Just put mine in the boot."
This was first released in America as a double-sided single with "Snookeroo." Ringo and his record company didn't think radio stations would play "No No Song" because of the drug references, but they did, pushing the song to #3 and giving Ringo his seventh Top 10 hit Stateside. Unsurprisingly, the flip side, a song celebrating snooker, was largely ignored.
In the UK, "No No Song" wasn't released as a single for fear that it would get banned. In 1976, it was used as the B-side of "Oh My My."
Hoyt Axton released his own version of the song in 1975 after it became a hit for Ringo. His rendition was issued as a single and included on his album Southbound. The stoner comedians Cheech & Chong make an appearance on Axton's version.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 28th 1975, Ringo Starr performed "No No Song" on the CBS-TV program 'The Smothers Brothers Show'... Two months earlier on February 2nd, 1975 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #78; and on March 30th it peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 5 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)... And on April 5th, 1975 it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart... Between 1971 and 1975 he had seven straight Top 10 records; started with "It Don't Come Easy" (#4 in 1971), "Back Off Boogaloo" (#9 in 1972), "Photograph" (#1 for 1 week in 1973), "You're Sixteen" (#1 for 1 week in 1974), "Oh My My" (#5 in 1974), "Only You" (#6 in 1975), and finally "No No Song" (#3)... Mr. Starr, born Richard Starkey, will celebrate his 74th birthday in less than two months on July 7th, 2014.
Karen from Manchester, NhI remember being in a bus heading to a field trip when I was in Junior High, and I led the whole bus into singing this song, complete with loud "SNIFF" and "...and he wasn't joking!" shouted in the middle...and I have never, ever done drugs!
Ken from Louisville, KyIn the play out, you can hear Ringo jokingly mumbling about needing a drink.
Keith from San Francisco, CaI still like Hoyt Axton's version better, plus Cheech and Chong make a Cameo appearance in the middle of Axton's version--VERY 70s