Recording: For No One

Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Paul McCartney’s song ‘For No One’ was completed on this day, with the addition of a French horn overdub played by Alan Civil.

A reduction mix, created on 16 May, had freed up two spare tracks on the four-track tape. Bass guitar and tambourine was added onto the first of these, and the second featured two passages recorded by Civil.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for For No One

George Martin rang me up and said ‘We want a French horn on a Beatles song, can you do it?’ I knew George from his very early days at EMI because I’d been doing a lot of freelance work then. So I turned up at Abbey Road and all the bobbysoxers were hanging around outside and trying to look through the windows.

I thought the song was called ‘For Number One’ because I saw ‘For No One’ written down somewhere. Anyway, they played the existing tape to me, which was complete, and I thought it had been recorded in rather bad musical style, in that it was ‘in the cracks’, neither B-flat nor B-major. This posed a certain difficulty in tuning my instrument. Paul said, ‘We want something there. Can you play something that fits in?’ It was rather difficult to actually understand exactly what they wanted so I made something up which was middle register, a baroque style solo. I played it several times, each take wiping out the previous attempt.

Alan Civil
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Alan Civil was the principal horn player in the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was paid a session fee of 50 guineas (£52.50) and was given a credit on the sleeve of Revolver, leading to more work and greater recognition for his playing.

Paul McCartney's lyrics for Why Did It Die?, later retitled For No One

Last updated: 22 June 2023
Filming: Paperback Writer, Rain
Filming: Paperback Writer, Rain
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