The Paul McCartney Project

No Reply

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Beatles For Sale (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1964

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions





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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

No Reply” is a song by the Beatles from the British album Beatles for Sale and the American album Beatles ’65. It was written mainly by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon wrote the song for Tommy Quickly to record, but Quickly never went along with it. The Beatles recorded the demo version on 3 June 1964 in the style of Tommy Quickly, while their regular drummer Ringo Starr was hospitalised and Jimmie Nicol was hired to take his place, but a different drummer that was unidentified recorded with the group on the demo.

Composition

The song is about a young man who is unable to contact his apparently unfaithful girlfriend, although he knows she is home (“They said it wasn’t you, but I saw you peek through your window“).

According to Lennon in a 1972 interview, the Beatles’ music publisher Dick James was quite pleased with “No Reply“: “I remember Dick James coming up to me after we did this one and saying, ‘You’re getting better now — that was a complete story.’ Apparently, before that, he thought my songs wandered off.

Reviewer David Rowley found its lyrics to “read like a picture story from a girl’s comic“, and to depict the picture “of walking down a street and seeing a girl silhouetted in a window, not answering the telephone“.

In his last major interview, Lennon said that lyrically, the song was inspired by “Silhouettes“, a 1957 song first recorded and released by doo-wop group the Rays.

In his book, Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald remarks that the middle eight (“If I were you, I’d realize that I love you more than any other guy; and I’d forgive the lies that I heard before, when you gave me no reply“) was the most powerful phrase featured in any Beatles song thus far.

Music

The song is in the key of C major. The song form is standard AABA (verse-verse-bridge-verse), without a chorus as such, but including the refrain “No Reply”. The instrumentation includes acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums and piano.

Originally Lennon had intended to sing the higher harmony part, as this was the original melody. However, his voice had deteriorated due to excessive use, forcing Paul McCartney to sing the part, and relegating Lennon to the lower harmony line.

Rhythm for the verses is ‘bossa nova’. The bridge reverts to standard rock rhythm. […]

Paul McCartney in Many Years From Now, by Barry Miles:

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.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 16 Oct 1964.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 1240 For Sale 1964.
    US: Capitol T 2228 Beatles ’65 1964.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46438 2 For Sale 1987.
  • [b] stereo 4 Nov 1964.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3062 For Sale 1964.
    US: Capitol ST 2228 Beatles ’65 1964.

A minor double track difference shows that decisions were made at mix stage: in “in my place” the first time, [a] has doubletrack on “place” while [b] has it on “my place”. The stereo mix [b] also reveals a cough after “your window” near the beginning.

Last updated on March 8, 2016

Lyrics

This happened once before
When I came to your door, no reply
They said it wasn't you
But I saw you peep through your window

I saw the light, I saw the light
I know that you saw me
'Cause I looked up to see your face

I tried to telephone
They said you were not home
That's a lie
'Cause I know where you've been
I saw you walk in your door

I nearly died, I nearly died
'Cause you walked hand in hand
With another man in my place

If I were you I'd realize that I
Love you more than any other guy
And I'll forgive the lies that I
Heard before when you gave me no reply

I tried to telephone
They said you were not home
That's a lie
'Cause I know where you've been
I saw you walk in your door

I nearly died, I nearly died
'Cause you walked hand in hand
With another man in my place

No reply, no reply

Officially appears on


Beatles For Sale (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:15 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Handclaps, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Handclaps, Vocals
George Harrison :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 16, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles '65 (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:15 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Handclaps, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Handclaps, Vocals
George Harrison :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 16, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles '65 (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:15 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Handclaps, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Handclaps, Vocals
George Harrison :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 04, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles For Sale (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:15 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Handclaps, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Handclaps, Vocals
George Harrison :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 04, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles for Sale

EP • Released in 1965

2:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Handclaps, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Handclaps, Vocals
George Harrison :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 16, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

1:46 • DemoC • [...] this 3 June demo recording of the song certainly has not been heard before. It was announced at the time that John was giving No Reply to Tommy Quickly, another of Brian Epstein's artists, and - as John sings it in a staccato, jaunty style more typical of Quickly's than his own - it's feasible that this demo was recorded with that donation in mind. (All the same, if he recorded it all, quickly never issued his version.) Intriguingly, a drummer is evident, even though no recognised player - neither Ringo nor Jimmy Nicol - was present.

George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 03, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

2:29 • OuttakeD • Take 2. Almost four months after the song had been recorded in demo form, the Beatles returned to No Reply and taped a definitive version, Take 8, for Beatles For Sale. Presented here, as balance engineer Norman Smith announced, is Take 2, unreleased, which underlines the more dramatic, bluesy style that John perhaps meant for his song. Laughter ensured that this particular take could not have been used, but it was clearly an important stepping-stone to the master version, John concluding "Well, we just found out what to do, anyway - it's good!"

George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Beatles For Sale - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:42 • Alternate take • Stereo • Take 1 Stereo

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles For Sale - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

2:28 • Alternate take • Mono • Take 2 Mono

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles For Sale - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:42 • Alternate take • Mono • Take 1 - Clean VHS mix

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles For Sale - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:10 • Alternate take • Stereo • Unknown partial take 1 - Stereo

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Beatles For Sale - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:12 • Alternate take • Mono • Unknown partial take 2 - Mono

Session Recording:
Sep 30, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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