No Reply

Album: Beatles For Sale (1964)


  • This was one of John Lennon's first songs to tell a complete story. The boy knocks on his girl's door, knows she is home because he sees her in the window, but she does not answer. Lennon wrote the song when he was inspired by the song "Silhouettes." He said, "I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone." Music publisher Dick James told Lennon that it was the first "complete" song that John had ever written: It had a beginning and an end.
  • This starts with a vocal, which was rare for the time.
  • This was yet another early Beatles song originally written for another artist. "No Reply" was written for Tommy Quickly, another Liverpudlian who was also signed to Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Quickly never recorded and released the song, so the Beatles used it themselves. Quickly's story rapidly deteriorated; he had a number of singles that failed to chart, then one minor hit, "Wild Side of Life," before fading back into obscurity. This Mersey Beat article seems to indicate that he just wasn't cut out for the spotlight.
  • Lennon was asked about this song shortly before he died in 1980. He replied: "I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone, although I never called a girl in my life because phones weren't part of the English child's life."
  • That's record producer George Martin tickling the ivories. Meanwhile, on the demo version, Ringo was absent from the recording session; he was laid up with tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Jimmie Nicol might have done the drum work here, since he was also drafted to replace Ringo on their upcoming tour. Ringo was back at his station by the time this album version was recorded.
  • This song's demo recording was lost due to a filing error, then found again by 1993 and re-released on Anthology 1.
  • In the June/July issue of AARP magazine, Rosanne Cash published a two-page article titled "My Favorite Beatles Song." In it, she talked about "No Reply," a song that she's been listening to since she was 10 years old. Cash explained that the song mirrored her own relationship with her parents, including country music icon Johnny Cash.

    Cash wrote, "The subtext of my own life was the same as the one in 'No Reply;' I knocked on my parents' door and no one answered. My mother and father were not at home. Just like the song: 'When I came to your door - No reply.'"

    She added: "Lennon's howl that he 'nearly died' is the denoument of the emotional arc," Cash goes on. "He says it twice in the second verse. It has the stark intensity of Hank Williams' line, 'I'm so lonesome I could cry.' Or my dad singing 'I walk the line': plaintive to the point of transcending the meaning. The life that shows up in the voice is made of choices."

    She finishes her piece by saying, "I've returned to 'No Reply' in every stage of my life... I love the girl who cheated. I love the boy who had his heart broken. I love myself as I was on both sides of the door. The sequence of events is switched, however: I nearly died, then I saw the light. But I'm still reaching for 'No Reply.'"

Comments: 30

  • Jan French from PlanoI'm a Beatle fan 1964-present, you might not go for this interpretation at all...I've always felt this song was referring to Johns mum, Cynthia...she only lived a few blocks away and John would hang out there a lot as a teenage boy...he desperately wanted her attention so when he happened to show up unannounced and saw her with another man you can feel his anger and sadness.
  • Joe from New York, NyThis song "No Reply" has such a great ending guitar chord that it always made me feel sad BUT happy at the same time.It is a C major 7th with a high d in it as well as a high e....!....Anyways , is there anyone out there that has ever felt the same about this tune...?....I really like the simple and easy struting F to G to C major chords in the start and then onto the tense A minor to E minor to F major to E minor chords in the bridge. Many people do not even know wht a bridge to a song is...!....It is a simple telling or expansion of the verses theme....Today these Beatle songs and other 32 bar tunes would not make sense to the youths.BUT they in every way make me feel good. Joe Nania a.k.a. Hollywood Joe
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlAnother great song by The Beatles! :)
  • John from Sydney, AustraliaThis magnificent song has the majesty of huge waves crashing on a beach. It towers. It has a glorious intensity and a wonderful surging, driving energy as it builds. As is characteristic of John Lennon's work, there is no song like it. Masterful.
  • Nick from Seattle, Albaniathis song man...we (guys) have all been there john! way to relate to us!
  • Andy from Lake City, Flnobody has really commented how unique a "1st person psychotic lover" song was at the time. sting must have listened to this obsessively at the time he began to notice girls. the police albums as well as sting's solo albums are LOADED with psychotic (ex)boyfriend songs and somehow they're always fascinating.
  • Kelly from Liverpool, United KingdomI heard the Anthology 1 version of this song. the Demo where they're messing up a lot. omg its soo funny. they keep confusing when to say, "Your Door" and "Her Face" haha. and for the teens lol im 14! and im a huge beatles fan :]
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australiahaha the Anthology version is hilarious, wayyy better
  • Eric from Buffalo, NyI'd have to say after years of listening to Beatles music that this song has grown on me more than any other. Everything fits together so well on this tune. John voice is as good as gets in this too. I also like the middle section where the song picks up and the piano comes in. No reply...such a great title. One of the more underrated songs lyrically too.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJohn said this song was totally made up, based on other songs (particularly American) that he had heard. He said that he never even spoke to a girl on the phone while growing up, because it was not considered "proper" for British teenagers to use the telephone for courting in the 1950's.

  • Fred from Laurel, MdI'm 16. OK, OK, I WAS 16 when this song came out (how time flies). I didn't care for the Beatles then even though my best friend adored them, but 2 or 3 years later I really dug them (and have since). This is still one of my favorites of theirs to play & sing (along with about a score of others).... BTW, in the US this was the opening track on the Beatles '65 album. I kinda wish they'd put the US albums up at the top of these entries, along with the UK albums. They give both countries' chart stats, after all!
  • Doug from Vernon, CanadaJohn's songwriting during this period (64-65) was simply amazing...and this is one of his obscure ones that has stood the test of time. I really like the chord changes - unique for the Beatles (like If I fell).
  • Rebka from Crapville, Wyfrodo is a hobbit. i know that because gandalf said so. the ring is evil, children!
  • Joni from Carson City, NeI think John did go out with Sandy. It was probably a fling lasting a month or two, knowing John he enjoyed those monthly flings with girls.
  • Crystal from Elizabeth, Nj(sighs) Once again, it wasn't Sandy Denny that claimed John Lennon wrote this song about her but American actress, Sandy Dennis. Sandy wanted royalities from the song which I suppose wasn't much since I hardly ever hear the song except on rare Beatles tributes. Sandy claimed that Lennon was infatuated with her, which I suppose he was since he admired older women.
  • Jill from Duncan, CanadaI have the first two takes on my computer.. it's so funny hearing THE BEATLES mess up. You just think they can't make a mistake. Shows they're human, just like us.
  • Mike from Newark, NdSad tune and heart-wrenching sympathy inducing lyrics. Lennon can really handle those "done me wrong" songs like no other. I love this song.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI think I've heard that ddemo Nessie.
  • Paul from Flagstaff, AzYes john lennon has a great singing voice but he is an even better guitarist. His playing is extremely underated. He is in the top 5 list of greatest musicians of all time. He might be the greatest musician ever.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan"Lennon's original intent for this song was for it to be a waltz." You can hear them on a demo version trying to shoehorn it into a waltz beat -- with no luck at all.
  • Kelly from Farmingdale, NyYep Im 16 and the beatles are so wonderful. its wierd how my parents liked the beatles at my age, and now i adore them...but unfortunatley you can never really see them live anymore...
  • Roger from Bristol, TnThis song is without a doubt one of those rare songs in which the singer (Lennon) makes you feel as if you are standing right beside him when he's outside the girl's house. Powerful vocal, and equally powerfully written. One of the greatest heart-felt songs ever sung and wrtitten.
  • Kristine from Hamilton, ChinaHey Im' 15 too and I love The Beatles.

  • Roger from Bristol, TnStarting the song off with a vocal was not rare for The Beatles. What was rare was that The Beatles started many songs off with a vocal,
  • Martin Bonica from Sterling, VaI agree. The Anthology 1 versions were better. The final one that came out on Beatles for Sale / Beatles '65 was too... generic.
  • Matt from Cleveland, OhThe normal version is pale and awful compared to the 2 versions on the Anthology one album. The 1st one they stopped because they kept getting the words world (I saw you peep through, your face). The 2nd one they RIP IT UP before deliberalty getting the words wrong and quitting in a fit of giggles. Check out Paul stealing the song with backup singing, particluarly in the 3rd verse. (you said it wasn't YOU! but ISAWYOUPEEPTHROUGH...)
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ili love all their early songs! this one is definitely at the top of my list, and jeanne i agree with you, john's voice is undescribable...sigh. by the way, im 15, any other teens around?
  • Jeanne from Huy, BelgiumNo Reply seems to be the first version of Lennon's "Jealous Guy". The way his voice breaks, it breaks my heart! And as I occurred to hear him joke as he was recording this song, makes me think that he felt something coming up from deep in his soul...
  • Brittanie from Liverpool, EnglandThis song sort of freaks me out because I had a bloak like that one time. And he just wouldn't leave me alone!
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaJohn Lennon's version of "Silhouettes" bearing a similar theme, but with a sad ending, instead of a happy one.
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