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"Nowhere Man"

Categories: Beatles songs

The dreamy, opening a cappella harmonies open float you directly into the previously unexplored "Nowhere Man" soundland which The Beatles and George Martin so boldly charted on the Rubber Soul album (though in the States, it was held back until "Yesterday"... And Today).

As the treble-tweaked guitars chime in on the other channel, it's even clearer that we're into acoustic terra incognito.

Having said that, the lyrical terrain is remarkably similar to that previously charted in "Help!": and every bit as inhospitable; despite the marked contrast in the pace of the trip. A direct continuation of the same journey, in fact.

'Course the "Nowhere Man" was Lennon himself, still struggling to sort his head (or his mask) out — and now with a lysergic perspective thrown in, just to put the icing on the cake. "The world is at your command" — if only you knew what the fuck you wanted to do with it...

Even a couple of years later, Lennon gave two contradictory versions of how he'd come up with the song: and both of 'em in the same interview... Still trying to get his feet back on the ground, "as blind as he can be", "making all his nowhere plans for no-one I think is in my tree".

The one constant in his sea of holes of a memory was that the words and music had come together — and everybody else lends a hand to his lonely, spaced-out vocal here. One of my very, very favouritest George solos: so generously understated to complement the feeling, with that exquisite little ping bouncing you right back into the middle of Nowhere Land. Some of my very, very favouritest Beatle harmonies, too: all leading up to that sublime pitch shift at the finish as the round-off.

Melodically speaking, at least, "Nowhere Man" knew right where he was going to. Little wonder that it never quite worked on stage, key changes an' all. But, as nobody was actually listening to them live, what was the point anyway? Touring days were definitely starting to be numbered...

It's the oldest track featured in the Yellow Submarine movie, but holds its head as proud and sounds every bit as fresh as anything else therein — and scores a great scene for one of the most memorable secondary actors of any Beatleflick.

Isn't he a bit like you and me?
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