Monday, May 2, 2011

Nowhere Man

The Beatles - Nowhere Man .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

"Nowhere Man" is the fourth track on the Beatles album "Rubber Soul," released in 1965.  The song features John on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Paul on bass and harmony vocal, George on lead guitar and harmony vocal, and Ringo on drums.  The song was written by John primarily with a little help from Paul.  However, like all songs either written by Lennon or McCartney, "Nowhere Man" was credited as "Lennon/McCartney."

The song opens with a lovely a Capella three-part harmony as sung by John, Paul, and George.  John is singing the lead, George sings the lower harmony, and Paul sings the higher harmony. The three parts blend together so well that it takes a few listens to really decipher who is singing what.  This adds to the flow achieved by this harmony.

The song is in the key of E, but Lennon capos his guitar on the second fret so that he is playing in D formation.  The chord structure is relatively simply, minus the last chord of the sequence.  it uses the typical major chords of a key, but the minor 4th at the end of the phrase adds a nice flavor to the track and has a strong harmonic pull back to the tonic.  The bass bounces along the track in typical McCartney fashion, using passing tones and neighbors to add the basis of a brilliant rhythm backing track.  The guitar solo played by George achieves new levels of treble that have never been heard before on a record, using full treble and faders on full treble as well. This marks yet another studio innovation by the Beatles.

The harmonies change in the bridge, with Paul and George switching to "oh's" and "la's" instead of singing along with John.  For this part, Paul and George provide more of a backing vocal as opposed to a secondary lead.  This bridge is full of suspense, largely thanks to the chord it pulls on.  The final phrasing of the backing vocals doubles its time, further adding to the suspense.  All the while, Lennon is pleading with himself to realize the potential he has.

Lennon was largely writing about himself.  At a point in time when the Beatles had become tired of touring and the same old recording techniques, Lennon was unsure of the direction he was heading in.  Ironically, the subject matter of this song foreshadows the next albums by the Beatles.  The successive albums would constantly redefine who the Beatles were as musicians in the studio and as individuals. Anyway, in an interview with "Playboy," Lennon gave this statement about the song: "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."

"Nowhere Man" is a gem amongst gems in the Beatles discography.  The album, "Rubber Soul," was a number-one hit in both the US and the UK.  The album marks a period in the Beatles' career where their experimentation both musically and in their recording techniques really started to involve in innovation they are best known for.  This song, as well as the album, is a folk-rock monument and should be heard and praised by all fans of the genre.  A favorite of mine, I could literally listen to the album on repeat and never grow tired of it.

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