Originally titled “Why Did It Die?,” it appears to have been written solely by Paul. John himself confirms this assumption in his 1972 “Hit Parader” magazine interview when asked about the authorship of the song. “Paul. Another of his I really liked,” he stated. He continued to praise the song in his 1980 “Playboy” magazine interview where he states: “One of my favorite pieces of his, too. That and ‘Here, There And Everywhere.’ A nice piece of work, I think,”
As was his habit, Paul took advantage of a Beatle-less vacation out of the country and, while away, found the atmosphere perfect for writing a song. “I wrote that on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, in a hired chalet amongst the snow,” he remembered in 1984. This vacation took place in March of 1966 with girlfriendJane Asher in Klosters, Switzerland where they rented a chalet about half a mile from town.
In the book “Anthology,” Paul goes into greater detail: “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 bass-line trick that it’s based on, and I remember the character in the song – the girl putting on her make-up.”
Steve Turner’s book “A Hard Day’s Write” relates: “In an early interview, Paul said that it was all about his own experience of living with a woman when he was fresh from leaving home. Later he was less specific, saying that he was thinking only of the character of a typical working girl.” One may speculate that his three-year relationship with Dot Rhone was the experience used as inspiration for “For No One,” but speculation is probably all that it will ever be.
Details;Recorded: 9, 16, 19 May 1966
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
Released: 5 August 1966 (UK), 8 August 1966 (US)
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass, piano, clavichord
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, maracas
Alan Civil: horn
The distinctive chords were played by McCartney on George Martin's clavichord, brought in to Abbey Road from his house.
Interestigly, according to Mark Lewisham Paul's lead vocal was recorded with the tape running slow in order to sound higher (and thinner) on playback. Maybe this is the reason Alan Civil complained about being asked to play somewhere between B major and B flat major, and he thought it was very unprofessional to be asked to do that.
Anyway I agree with John, its a very fine song from a very fine album, songs like this were when people started taking them seriously as very talented songwriters, its also beautifully recorded and Ive always loved the way it finishes, sort of unresolved.... of course the horn solo by Alan Civil fits very well. The song sort of says to you ‘yeah sure, we can write a baroque pop song, no problem’
Critic Paul Evans states about the Beatles: "Theirs is the final, great consensus in popular music, not liking them is as perverse as not liking the sun." songs like For No One back this up 100%