“Nowhere Man” is a famous Beatles’ song from their 1965 album, “Rubber Soul”. However, in the United States and Canada, this was a single release too. The song came from John Lennon because of his isolation while he took time away from the chaos of Beatlemania. The song is also available on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack album.
Recorded: 21st-22nd October, 1965
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Folk rock
Track Duration: 2:44
Record Label: Parlophone
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
“I’d spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good and I finally gave up and lay down. Then Nowhere Man came, words and music, the whole damn thing, as I lay down.”
Beatlemania was at its height and the band’s songs were mainly about romance and love, of course. However, this song differs in that it moves away from the norm. In fact, this was one of the first Beatles’ songs that did so. This was because Lennon was undergoing deep philosophical contemplation at the time.
“I was just sitting, trying to think of a song, and I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and going nowhere. Once I’d thought of that, it was easy. It all came out. No, I remember now, I’d actually stopped trying to think of something. Nothing would come. I was cheesed off and went for a lie down, having given up. Then I thought of myself as Nowhere Man – sitting in his nowhere land.”
The Beatles, Hunter Davies
Even though this introspective song was not typical of The Beatles at the time, they still performed it onstage up to and including their tour of America in August, 1966.
The Beatles began recording “Nowhere Man” on the 21st October, 1965, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios in London during the 7.00pm-12.00pm sessions. The band recorded two takes that day but neither was suitable.
In the same studio on the next day, the band recorded takes 3-5 with take 4 being suitable for the basic rhythm track. The guitar solo ends with a high, bell-sounding note achieved by using a string harmonic. They then overdubbed John Lennon’s double-tracked vocals to this take as well as various other tweaks to complete the song.
Single Release (Not UK)
“Nowhere Man” became a single release in America with the B-side being “What Goes On” and it went to the top of the charts. It was also a single release in Canada and Australia where it went to number one in the charts in both those countries too. In Australia the B-side was “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)“.
However, in the UK, it stayed firmly on the “Rubber Soul” album.
Because the song appears in the 1968 film, “Yellow Submarine“, it is now included on the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” Album (1999). However, it doesn’t feature in the “Yellow Submarine Soundtrack” album from 1969. In the film, The Beatles sang it to Jeremy Hillary Boob, a creature living in the blank region, “Sea of Nothing”.