‘For No One’ is one of the high points on The Beatles 1966 album Revolver which is high praise indeed considering it is a near faultless record. The song remains a shining example of Paul McCartney at his absolute best and this rare solo performance of Macca performing it in the studio decades after its initial release is about as close to perfection as you’re going to get.
The original version of the track which was recorded back in 1966. The only Beatles who featured were McCartney with assistance from Ringo Starr on percussion with ‘For No One’ being one of the songs considered to be Macca’s baby that he cherished and still holds close to his heart today.
It’s one of Paul’s best pop ballad’s and was delivered from the heart about his turmoil as his relationship with Jane Asher came to a close. But at least we had this timeless classic to come out of hardship and the track also saw a progression from McCartney in a songwriting sense.
McCartney was on holiday with his girlfriend at the time, Jane Asher when things went wrong and ‘For No One’ was born. “I was in Switzerland on my first skiing holiday. I’d done a bit of skiing in Help! and quite liked it, so I went back and ended up in a little bathroom in a Swiss chalet writing ‘For No One’. I remember the descending bassline trick that it’s based on, and I remember the character in the song – the girl putting on her make-up,” Macca said in Anthology.
Lennon was even a huge fan of the track and once said “one of my favourites of his, a nice piece of work” which is high praise from John.
The track also featured a French horn which is peculiar for a Beatles number and in the solo performance Paul even mimics the instrument by comically saying “brrrrrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbr French horn brbrbrbrbrbrbaba”. The band recruited Alan Civil to play the part who was apparently the best player of the instrument in the whole of London even if Macca wasn’t initially impressed.
“It was a very strange instrument to record, and Paul played it. But we wanted a very special sound, and French horn was what he chose,” George Martin said in Anthology.
“Paul didn’t realise how brilliantly Alan Civil was doing. We got the definitive performance, and Paul said, ‘Well, OK, I think you can do it better than that, can’t you, Alan?’ Alan nearly exploded. Of course, he didn’t do it better than that, and the way we’d already heard it was the way you hear it now,” he continued.
Check out the joyous solo performance below that is guaranteed to brighten up your day.