Nowhere Man

Album: Rubber Soul (1965)
Charted: 3
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  • John Lennon came up with this after struggling to write a song for the album. Said Lennon: "I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and getting nowhere."
  • This was used in the animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. They sing it to Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD, who describes himself as an "eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too." The Beatles decide to take him Somewhere, and he eventually helps them to defeat the Blue Meanies. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This starts with a three-part harmony sung by Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney.
  • This is probably the first Beatles song that has nothing to do with love.
  • Typical of many John Lennon compositions are the "falling" melodies, which can be heard in "Nowhere Man." Folk music often has falling melodies, indicating melancholy. In Baroque music, a falling melody means sadness. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Johan Cavalli, a music historian in Stockholm
  • There is a very audible feedback 38 seconds into the song after the word "missin'."
  • Natalie Merchant performed this at the 2001 special, Come Together: A Night For John Lennon's Words And Music. She did a mellow version, as the show was also a tribute to victims of the terrorist attacks on America.
  • In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon recalled the background to this song: "I remember I was just going through this paranoia trying to write something and nothing would come out so I just lay down and tried to not write and then this came out, the whole thing came out in one gulp."
  • In 2003, John Lennon's original handwritten lyrics to this song were auctioned at Christie's of New York for $455,500. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • One of the many songwriters influenced by The Beatles is Graham Gouldman of 10cc, who toured with Ringo's All-Starr Band in 2018. According to Gouldman, this song is an example of how they would create a two-part harmony, but leave out third part, which is implied. "That's screaming out for the third harmony, but they never did it," he told Songfacts. "And in your head, you sing along, if you're musical, the third harmony."

Comments: 57

  • Geoff Benge from ChicagoNo one seems to see/hear the musical and thematic resemblance to johnny Cash's "MR. Lonesome" 2 years before. Listen to the rest of the classics not just the obvious- How Bout George Jones -"I get lonely in a hurry" - '64 - can't you hear the "Day Tripper" lick? - WAKE UP LISTEN PEOPLE there's a lot of music out there
  • Rob from Point Clare Nsw Australia"This is probably the first Beatles song that has nothing to do with love."

    What about "Help"? That didn't mention love or a boy-girl relationship anywhere in its lyrics. It was simply a song about someone feeling lost and insecure, and reaching out asking someone to help them. And "Help" came out a good six months before "Nowhere Man"...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 27th 1966, "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #25…
    Even though it debut so high on the Top100, surprisingly, it did not reached #1, or for that fact #2; on March 20th, 1966 it peaked at #3 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    But it did reach #1 in Australia and Canada*...
    And of course as with most Beatle records in 1966 the B-side, "What Goes On", also made the Top 100, it peaked at #81 and stayed on the chart for 2 weeks...
    * In Canada "Nowhere Man" was replaced at #1 by Peter & Gordon's "Woman", and it was composed by Paul McCartney under the pseudonym of Bernard Webb.
  • Michael De Lazzer from Studio City, CaThe more I listen to this song, the more I'm convinced the harmony through most of the song is sung by John and John and John (harmonizing with himself on multi-track tape), and double tracked. Listen close - the only clear Paul vocal is in the very last "Making all his nowhere plans for nobody" - Paul takes the high part and punches through. I might hear George in there, but I starting to think it may be all, or mostly John.
  • Brian from Glace Bay, NsThe Beatles in 1994/1995 (sans Lennon of course) agreed this was a difficult song to do live with the close harmonies involved. Keep in mind, the speakers at the time were relatively small-stadium rock was still a couple of years away. No monitors were used either. Basically, McCartney and Harrison agreed that without the technology and quietness of the studio, the harmonies were difficult because of the screaming of the fans and their instruments. They couldn't hear themselves or each other. Beautiful song and those guys could sing like birds.
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenLennon's Nowhere Man was a number one hit in Australia and Canada 1966,
    Lennon's Do You Want to Know a Secret was number one in US 1981.
    Lennon's I Should Have Known Better was number one in Norway 1964,
    Lennon's This Boy was number one in Canada,
    Lennon's If I Fell was number one in Norway 1964,
    These songs are n e v e r mentioned when listing the Beatles number one hits, but always all McCartney's. George Martin and McCartney never did PR for these songs.
  • Matthew from Toronto, OnAt first listen, it seems a throwaway: simplistic lyrics repeated often, made to adhere to a simple rhyming pattern. But the song grows on you as you hear it again and again, and we realize we are all in our "nowhere worlds" making our own "nowhere plans." We can't control our destinies; we can only observe ourselves as we trundle through life, hoping not to get dashed to pieces. That line about "doesn't have a point of view" always used to bother me; now I realize our point of view doesn't matter in the larger world which we inhabit.
  • Allyson from Waverly, NyIt reminds me of Help! It’s an upbeat, somewhat danceable song, but the lyrics say otherwise. I think it’s supposed to be a sad song, I believe. Maybe John was calling out for someone…. =(
  • Jorge from Oakland, CaYeah, I agree with someone else post. This song was probably about Lyndon Johnson: Doubtful, undecided, hypocritical, A bit like you and me. The world is at your command line is a hint.
    The guitar solo and subsequent reefs are masterful arrangements by George Harrison. He's saying quite loudly, I too count.
  • Julia from Milton, Pagod I love this song
  • Carl from Apg, Md"Nowhere Man" and "If I Needed Someone" were done during the Beatles' 1966 touring (I have heard the Tokyo concerts). Both are from the UK "Rubber Soul" and the U.S. "Yesterday & Today". "Nowhere Man" b/w "What Goes On" were back-to-back on an early 1966 Beatles single in the U.S. after having been left off "Rubber Soul" in the U.S.
  • George from Belleville, NjTalk about a classic,this one is a classic.Timeless melody,great lead guitar,lyrics that have meaning.This song is so well rounded.When listening to it,you feel as if you have a musical experience that's fully satisfying.This pop rock song is something special from way back in 1965.
  • Riley from Adelaide, Australiai think this is the first of there songs to get into that artie and psychedelic phase of there music.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhMy 4-year-old daughter has fallen in love with the Beatles in a big way, having seen "Yellow Submarine" a dozen times. She taught herself to sing "Nowhere Man" and sang the chorus of it for my family this Christmas.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxCapital had to stop rearranging Beatle album when Sgt. Pepper was released. If you have ever listen to this album in its entirety there is no break between songs. This was done intentionally to keep Capitol from rearranging it and in doing so, whether totally intentional for this sole perpose or not, made it the first concept album.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxJo in Tulsa - I believe you are correct about them having just met Elvis about this time. I don't know that the song was written about Elvis per se...but it certainly seems to fit because Elvis was a huge let down to the Beatles - especially John who immulated and loved Elvis - blasting his records at his Aunt's house until she cut the cord on his record player...because he (Elvis)was afraid that he was losing his edge at this time and took an immediate dislike to the Bealtes who were getting tons more air play than he.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, MoI like to listen to this when im procrastinating!...which i am right now. im supposed to be writing a paper but instead im reading up on beatles songfacts. YAY! oh, and isnt "help" not about love as well? sure, he's speaking to a person and asking them to help, but it could easily be a friend or even a stranger.
  • Dylan from Parma,kelly I'm like that too. this song makes me kinda sad because my copy you can here Jeremy Hillary Boob,PhD, crying
  • Wayne from Salem, VaAnother great Beatles song from John. This is from Rubber Soul yes. The UK version that is. Which infact was the original and the same one now sold in stores,etc. In America it was on the Yesterday And Today album. Which Capitol released after Rubber Soul. Most everyone knows how Capitol Records arranged Beatles albums in the U.S. to their own liking. Choosing the song selection and cover art,photos and lettering. Instead of leaving them as they already were in Britian. And the famous "Butcher Cover" was the original cover for Yesterday And Today. Until Capitol changed it and put the trunk cover in it's place. Capitol kept this up until Sgt. Pepper was released. Then the UK and U.S. albums would stay the same until the end. Getting back to "Nowhere Man". The"ding" sound from the guitar at the early part of the song is harmonics. An effect produced by holding a string tightly with one finger. And then hitting the string real fast with another finger.
  • Mrcleaveland from Cleveland,When this single first came out, I remember a local deejay saying something like, "Do I detect a note of social commentary here?"

    Ha ha, little did he know what we were in store for.
  • David from Glasgow, ScotlandFaith - 'Theres A Place' contains the line 'I love only you'. I think it's safe to say that song is about love and a specific relationship
  • Faith from Liverpool, --Actually the first Beatles song that wasn't about love or relationships was their song "There's a Place". What a great song. =)
  • Sarah from Newport, Ncits actually kida sad because its says that someone is trying to help him "Nowhere Man, please listen, You don't know what you're missing, Nowhere Man, the world is at your command" i think even though it has kinda of a up beat it was ment to be sad..
  • Rosario from Naples, FlI love this song! I especially love the twangy guitar solo.
    I've heard several times that this is the first only Beatles not song about love, but I think it's actually "Help!"

  • Eric from Buffalo, NyI used to skip this song a lot when listening to Rubber Soul but now I love it. The three part harmony that ends the song is amazing.
  • Erika from Fox Valley, WiAm I the only one who can't seem to hear the "audible feedback" at :38 seconds into the song after the word "missin'"? I've listened to it several times on my MP3 player (which is fabulous for picking up things I wouldn't normally hear on CDs) I just can't hear what they're talking about. And I love this song. I like those songs John writes to us to remind us that he's not a God...he's a guy with insecurities and problems just like the rest of us.
  • Nathan from From The Country Of, Canadahow can you be picky and like twisted sister?
  • Andrew from Los Angeles, CaMy favorite song hands down.
  • Jo from Tulsa, OkI read somewhere that they wrote this after meeting Elvis Presley. Maybe I got bad information?
  • Krista from Elyria, OhLOL nice meaning. I love the tune and how the voices sound! This is the only song my sister likes that is sung by The Beatles. She's very picky, and usually likes Twisted Sister.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyI was reading Updike's "Rabbit, Run" for a college class when this song was released. There was a scene where the mid-twentish Rabbit, trying to re-live his college jock years, gets into a pick-up basketball game. It is a sad and pathetic scene but I thought this song would have been a perfect backdrop for a movie vversion of the book. (The movie did NOT use this idea). Before "The Graduate", rock music was rarely used in adult-oriented films. Had I gone into film-making back then, I would have been ahead of my time! Oh, well!
  • Sam from Shanghai, ChinaComing to correct myself... apparently Harrison painted his Strat himself. The Fool painted various other pieces of Beatles gear, but not the Fender used on this track!
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoInteresting to find out that Lennon was inspired by his own feelings to write this as it's one of the few where he writes in the third person. I believe in one of his interviews, Lennon said the interesting thing about this song was how soon the solo came in. McCartney's harmony at the end shows how good he was at that; too bad he only sings lead now! :-) I like Ringo's snare rolls in the transitions between parts.
  • Sara from Nashville, TnHey Kelly... Wow it feels good to know that there are other socially inept people out there! That's exactly how I felt about the song! lol And Robb, I must say that the Beach Boys question was a little bit random...
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, Swedenheard it yesterday as a cover by a local, very bohemian folk singer (who thinks he is Bob Dylan with his harmonica and guitar) at the local "alternative music club". very cool! actually made me appreciate the song more.
  • Robb from Hamburg, NyLennon and Harrison aquired Sonic Blue fender Stratocasters in early 1965 and they both use them for this song. Harrison later had his painted in early 1967 in the heat of psychadelia
  • Steve from Fenton, MoThis is a great song, my favorite Beatles song, and I think one of John Lennon's five best songs. The guitar solo is beautifully melodic. I've always wondered, did George come up with this solo, and for that matter, it would have been interesting to know how much credit to give George for the guitar solos on John and Pauls songs. If he came up with most of them, I give him tons of credit.
  • Sam from Shanghai, ChinaThe guitar George uses on this is his psychadelic Fender Stratocaster, painted by Dutch Artists "the Fool". They also painted Eric Clapton's famous Gibson SG.
  • Robb from Hamburg, NyThe harmonies is this song are amazing. Who were the Beach Boys? The bassline is typical McCatney - very melodic. I think it brings the whole song together.
  • Kelly from Woodstock, CanadaNOWHERE MAN IS AWESOME! for everybody is a nowhere man in some way....please dont take offense anyone...i myself am a nowhere man in a sense...when i wander my school halls i am a nowhere man...and i just float away in my dream i am sitting ina nowhere land...well we at least know one thing for sure...Jeremy is a nowhere man
  • Kevin from Cincinnati, OhThis song is very special to me as it is hte very first record i bought.A 45 rpm on Capitol.Still have it today.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI Love this song's guitar solo, The 4 greatest Beatles guiter solos: Nowhere Man, While my Guitar Gently Weeps,Hey bulldog, and And Your Bird can Sing
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlWe have all known a nowhere man at one time or another. Some of us have even BEEN nowhere men. Not their best song, but certainly not a bad song.
  • Calum from Edinburgh, ScotlandOh by the way, I was wrong. There's A Place includes the line 'Like I love only you'. As you were, folks
  • Benjamin from Cheverly, MdThis is a very good song. At the end of the solo, you hear a DONG, it goes a long with the song
  • Matthew from Lexingt, VaI always interpreted this song as referring to Lyndon Johnson, but really one could apply the lyrics to just about any politician. They're all in a nowhere land making plans for you and me.
  • Charlie from Cape Girardeau, MoAlan, before the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, it was on the "Yesterday and Today" album, which wasn't released in the UK.
  • Scott from Chicago, Ilthis is the most trebly of the beatles songs, between the vocals and the twangy guitar.......
    almost a test pattern for your treble control
    in the old stereos........
  • Calum from Edinburgh, ScotlandRe: This is probably the first Beatles song that has nothing to do with love.

    Apart from There's A Place on the Please Please Me album
  • Chris from Milwaukee, WiTheir live version of this is astounding. You can see it in episode 5 of the beatles dvd anthology collection.
  • Alan from City, MiDidn't make the US version of Rubber Soul; later appended to Yellow Submarine movie soundtrack-was in the movie also.
  • Scott Baldwin from Edmonton, CanadaPaul Westerberg did a good job on this In "I am sam",but butchered "Two of us".
  • Paulo from New York, NyOne of my favorites.
  • Randy from Beaumont, TxWanting a tinny, metal sound to his guitar, Harrison ran his guitar through 3 attenuators in series with all full controls set to highs and all the mids and lows compeletly pulled out.
  • Noam from Ein Zivan, Israelwas played in the movie yellow submarine.
  • Carolyn from P'ville, Ca(2001) Paul Westerberg sang this song for the "I Am Sam" soundtrack.
  • Brad Wind from Miami, FlHit #1 on the "Cashbox" singles chart, but stalled at #3 on "Billboard"'s Hot 100
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