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"For No One"

Categories: Beatles songs

"For No One", Paul's poignant reflection on a doomed love affair, composed in the Swiss Alps, is another example of The Beatles' — and particularly his — innate desire to push back the frontiers of contemporary pop/rock, incorporating instruments not normally associated with the genre. The piano is accompanied by the clavichord, normally limited to Classical Baroque (McCartney playing both), and a French horn solo by Alan Civil of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, one of George Martin's many 'proper music' contacts.

The cross-over is particularly effective here. Whilst the elegantly down-stepping piano/bass line most certainly ain't blues, "the day breaks, your mind aches" as an opening line is every bit as evocative as any 'woke up this morning' in setting the tone. Paul's uncertainty over his future with Jane Asher had been showing itself in song for a good couple of albums already, from a variety of emotional standpoints — but never with the lost emptiness of this one:

And in her eyes you see nothing,
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one:
A love that should have lasted years...

Paul apparently whistled the horn part for GM to transcribe, and both then pushed and wheedled to get it played in a higher key than the instrument's habitual range. The melancholy result is exquisite, with Civil himself rating it as one of his very best performances.
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