Saturday, January 10, 2009

For No One

I'm feeling a little melancholy today. Very January, if you will. And after the giddiness of yesterday's "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," I'd prefer to wallow in something a little different. Something like "For No One."

I love this song. I LOVE this song. There's so much understatement, so much unsaid. The lyrics maintain a respectful distance, keeping the story in the second person, and the line in the chorus "a love that should have lasted years," sounds like something an outsider would say. But they take on a weight of real regret in the context of the rest of the story, and in the context of another amazing melody written by Paul.

The music has a nice level of understatement too, just bass and piano and some soft drumming by Ringo in the background, who, if memory serves, is the only Beatle other than Paul playing on this song. The piano part is very simple, really just a backbone holding the song together. And then in the chorus, the piano goes into wobbling eighth notes, which sounds almost like background music from a soap opera-- which it pretty much is. It's the vocal that has the gorgeous melody that's the meat of the song-- a melody that's taken over and transformed by the horn that comes in at the bridge. With a melody this good, it's not surprising that everything else is in the background. Most importantly, though, every bit of music on this track contributes something to the mood of restrained sorrow.

"For No One" is an excellent song for a snowy day. Try putting it on, going up to the window, gingerly finger the curtains as you look out, and let a single, perfect tear hang from your lower eyelash. It's that kind of song. But also so much more.

"For No One," released in the U.K. side B track 3 of Revolver, August 5, 1966; in the U.S. side B track 2 of Revolver, August 8, 1966.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I'm of the opinion that Paul McCartney's best songs are on Revolver (1966), with "For No One" being one of them.