Song facts: No Reply

On September 30th 1964, The Beatles recorded No Reply, a new John Lennon song for the group's forthcoming Beatles for Sale album.

They had previously recorded a demo on June 3rd, while Ringo was hospitalised with tonsillitis. It is unclear which drummer they used on that day; but Ringo was back for the formal recording sessions on September 30th. The demo later resurfaced on Anthology 1 in 1995. 

John originally wrote No Reply with the intention of giving it to English rock and roll singer Tommy Quickly, but Quickly never took it so The Beatles recorded it themselves. 

"That's my song. Dick James, the publisher, said, 'That's the first complete song you've written where it resolves itself'. You know, with a complete story. It was my version of Silhouettes: I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone, although I never called a girl on the phone in my life. Because phones weren't part of the English child's life." - John Lennon

The song's theme is similar to Lennon's other works of the time, laced with rejection and emotional insecurity. No Reply features the story of a young man trying desperately and unsuccessfully to get in touch with his unfaithful girlfriend.

We wrote No Reply together but from a strong original idea of his. I think he pretty much had that one, but as usual, if he didn't have the third verse and the middle eight, then he'd play it to me pretty much formed, then we would shove a bit in the middle or I'd throw in an idea. - Paul McCartney

Personnel

  • John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, handclaps
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass guitar, handclaps
  • George Harrison – acoustic rhythm guitar, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps
  • George Martin – producer, piano
  • Norman Smith – engineer

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John Lennon on stage in the US, 1964. 

John Lennon on stage in the US, 1964. 

John Lennon, 1964.

John Lennon, 1964.

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