Not precisely yer standard bouncy Beatles beginner for an album, "No Reply" picks up perfectly from where "I'll Be Back"
had left off on A Hard Day's Night
, and sets the scene impeccably for the sombre tone which characterizes both For Sale
. The demo||329||]] and [[early take on Anthology
bear testimony to the way they worked on it, even as the tapes were rolling; showing, in turn, two things: just how pressed The Beatles were for time on this album, and how much more faith EMI were now willing to place in them.
No intro: in comes the double-tracked Lennon like a knife:This happened once before,
When I came to your door,
Whilst it was by no means the first time he'd explored the theme of a doomed relationship, there's an agonized intensity here which he'd only previously hinted at. "I nearly died!" he wails, with McCartney's high harmony completing the sense of inconsolable despair.
From the lilting lament of the verse, with George's exquisite acoustic teardrops splashing between the downbeat rhythmic strum, and Ringo jilting his beloved cymbals to add to the sobriety, the bridge surges up into an impassioned plea for another chance, Paul once again backing him up with moral support:If I were you, I'd realize that I
Love you more than any other guy...
You can't help but feel, however, that it's a hopeless attempt — and that he knows it. George Martin's piano helps to compound the impression, and those handclaps sound like someone's punching the wall. Then, back to a repetition of the second verse, "This happened once before": but this time it happens with John's voice unadorned, as if to highlight his bitter sense of rejection.No reply! No reply!