Sunday, February 14, 2010

"For No One"

"For No One" is a song written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) that originally appeared on The Beatles' seventh album, Revolver. A ballad about the end of a relationship, it was one of McCartney's most mature and poignant works to date. Musically the track is particularly distinguished by its French horn solo.

John Lennon said of the song, "One of my favourites of his—a nice piece of work."

Writing and recording

McCartney recalls writing "For No One" in the bathroom of a ski resort in the Swiss Alps, while on holiday with his then girlfriend Jane Asher. He said, "I suspect it was about another argument." The song's working title was "Why Did It Die."

The song was recorded on 9, 16 and 19 May 1966. McCartney sang and played clavichord (rented from George Martin's AIR company), piano, and bass, while Ringo Starr played drums and tambourine. Lennon and George Harrison did not contribute to the recording.

The French-horn solo was by Alan Civil, a British horn player. Prior to the session, Civil thought he was playing for a classical album, mistaking the words "For No One" on a lead sheet as "For No. One", an abbreviation for "Symphony Number One." During the session, McCartney pushed Civil to play a note that was beyond the usual range of the instrument (pitched on an F horn, it is a Super-G sharp). The result was the "performance of his life," high praise for someone who was known as the best French horn player in London at the time.

The song is in 2/2 time.


* Paul McCartney - lead vocals, clavichord, piano
* Ringo Starr - drums, maracas, tambourine
* Alan Civil - French horn

Cover versions

* Cilla Black released a recording already in 1966.

* Country singer Emmylou Harris included the song on her third album in 1975.

* In 1975 Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso recorded "For No One" on his Long Play "Qualquer Coisa" [Anything].

* In 1992, Maureen McGovern released this and "Things We Said Today" as a 2-song medley on her album Baby I'm Yours.

* Paul McCartney also released a different version on the soundtrack for his 1984 movie Give My Regards to Broad Street.

* In 2001 Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello recorded "For No One" in For the Stars album.

* In 2005, Meret Becker performed "For No One" on the television programme "Juke Box Memories" on arte (in German and in French).

* Elliott Smith played a live version of this song.

* Cabaret lounge singer Andrea Marcovicci included this song on her tenth album Here, There and Everywhere in 2000.

* Rickie Lee Jones released a version of "For No One" on her 2000 album It's Like This.

* Gregorian covered this on their album Masters of Chant Chapter IV.

* Pat DiNizio on his 2006 album This is Pat DiNizio.

* Diana Krall on her 2009 album Quiet Nights

Album: Revolver
Released: 5 August 1966
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 9, 16, 19 May 1966
Genre: Baroque pop
Length: 2:01
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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