100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'For No One'
Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty Images40/100

40. 'For No One'

Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: May 9, 16 and 19, 1966
August 8, 1966
Not released as a single

McCartney wrote this quiet classic in the second person, as if he were addressing, but not quite comforting, a friend abruptly abandoned by a lover: "You want her, you need her/And yet you don't believe her/When she says her love is dead." He was talking to himself: "For No One," written in March 1966 while he and Jane Asher were on vacation in Switzerland, was about an argument they had. The intimacy of the production and performance — a kind of exhausted acceptance — stand out amid the accelerated experimentation everywhere else on Revolver. McCartney and Starr were the only Beatles present at the session; they cut the backing track — McCartney's piano and Starr's minimalist percussion, plus overdubbed clavichord — in a single night. George Martin later suggested a dash of brass, so they called in Alan Civil of the London Philharmonia, who played the song's brief, moving French-horn interjections. Civil was paid about 50 pounds for his efforts, but got something more valuable: a rare Beatles-album credit on Revolver's original back cover.

Appears On: Revolver

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