From saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu Mon Feb 6 21:49:16 CST 1995
Re: Notes on "For No One" (FNO)<br>

Re: Notes on "For No One" (FNO)

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In article <D3Jw2J.Mz2@world.std.com> awp@world.std.com (Alan W Pollack) writes:

>- Savor these lyrics, for in them we get an unacustomedly undefended
> glimpse though the aperture of Paul's soulful heart, as though it had
> been dilated against his will by hypnosis or drug.

I suspect that the songwriter has mythologized himself via the composition of the song, so that the events take on a much more literary aura than they might if he were writing more self-referentially (cf. "We Can Work It Out" and "I'm Looking Through You"). And as a result, it's far easier for the author to open the heart of his lyrical persona, precisely because of that distance.

>- Working out this kind of thing in public surely was never Macca's
> preference, no less strong suit. Yet, we see here how much the poor
> fellow must have hurt for Ms. Jane Asher.

Paul's well-known distress over Jane may well have been the catalyst for this song, but just as the singer is not necessarily Paul, I'd venture to suggest that the lady is not Jane. In fact, the composer has imbued this lyrical lady with more indifference, even cruelty, than historical record suggests was present in Jane. And since the focus of the song's pain is on the male singer, it's entirely in keeping that "he" should exhibit greater sensitivity as well as more heart-felt pain than Paul was known to express.

Compare "For No One" with the mystery woman (also unknown to us, since she too is a lyrical/literary "type") in Lennon's devastating composition "Girl". I suspect both Lennon and McCartney were dealing with exactly the same sort of dangerous liaison, but worked it through in distinctively different music and lyrics. Both deal with women who are egocentric, hurtful, and even overtly cruel to the male protagonist. Both women seem to attempt to manipulate their respective gentlemen (in "Girl" she "promises the earth", probably pleadingly...and certainly insincerely; in "For No One" even her tears are empty, all for show). Both exhibit an explicit need to grind their men down ("She acts as if it's understood"/"You don't believer her/When she says her love is dead....") And both lyrical women are unutterably unforgettable to the men whom they have wounded.

> My own rhetorical final
> question is what, why, and wherefore, in the final lyrics, are these
> tears that *she* cries for 'no one'? Wishful thinking, or mature,
> ironic insight?

Part of her manipulative plan, I suppose? Clearly the protagonist of "For No One" feels the tears should be traceable to some event, some emotion, yet he suggests that they're "for no one"---not for the men in her past ("...long ago/She knew someone, but now he's gone..."), nor for him, who patiently waits at home while she seeks her pleasure elsewhere...nor are those tears ultimately for herself, except selfishly.

Of course the women in these two songs might have another story to tell (did "Girl" hide the story of a woman seeking her independence from a man of limited vision, who underappreciated her range? Did the woman in "For No One" have her own involved tale about being kept away from the things that she loved?) But we can't travel beyond the bounds defined by the songwriters, who have told us what they think is most important---and most eloquent---about their suffering. --


"I guess by now you've got the gist".

saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu (saki)

From saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu Tue Feb 14 10:07:41 CST 1995
Re: The hidden meaning of "Please Please Me"<BR>

Re: The hidden meaning of "Please Please Me"

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In article <3hjc2b$u27@omnifest.uwm.edu> pbodine@omnifest.uwm.edu (Paul S. Bodine) writes:

>With all due respect I think it is "interpretationally" blind to ignore
>the insistent sexual tone of Lennon's "come on!, come on!, come on" in Please
>please Me. Granted, the words on paper could mean anything but the song's
>delivery tends to narrow the number of possible meanings. (Are we forgetting
>the sexual roots of rock 'n roll?) . . .

Not at all. But I think you're selling the song short if you interpret *only* as far as some specific act of pleasure. It's not just about some girl giving him one thing he wants---whatever it is (and *whatever* it is, it's definitely not derivable from the lyrics)---but the words indicate a more long-term reciprocation is intended. Maybe the act in question is a symbol for some greater capitulation, but clearly the protagonist has been gearing up for some showdown for some time--- some confrontational plea that would require the lady to make an immediate declaration of her intentions. We already know how besotted he is by her.

He's so far been timid to excess, with minimal (but on-going, we should note) nagging ("Why do I always have to say, love"; "It's so hard to reason with you")---note the semantic markers of continuation and progression, suggesting that this is a long-standing problem. Poor fellow. No wonder he doesn't want to sound like a constant whiner ("I ("I don't want to start complaining"), but obviously he's had it with carrying the entire romantic burden himself ("I do all the pleasing with you"---again, note the non-specific timeframe of the sentence structure) for a girl who will "never even try"---i.e., never even entertain the notion that she needs to give as well as get.

Frankly, a guy who just wants one specific act, IMHO, won't use an image as stark as that from the middle-eight: "...there's always rain in my heart". Hey, that's serious! It's not just cloudy; there's a deluge of pain in his soul. He's bedeviled by her reluctant love no matter where he goes, not matter what else happens. And you think this is a chap whose only interest is in sexual variation? You might as well say that "Casablanca" is just another film about love gone aground. So it had...but that's not the denouement, and that's not the main wonder of Rick and Ilsa.

I'm amazed once more to see something in this song I'd never noticed before (and I must've gone through thousands of listenings by now): the woman he sings to is an early image of a recurring character in Lennon's work. We know her well, almost as well as he does: the girl who keeps her emotions distant ("PPM"), who abandons him at parties ("I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"), who leaves him cold ("You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", "I'm A Loser"), who bedazzles his heart but withholds her love ("Norwegian Wood"), who publicly makes him seem the fool ("I'll Cry Instead", "Girl"). She's the woman he can't catch, the lover he can't touch...and she's been the subject of his songs since the beginning.

But in "Please Please Me" he's still the innocent partner who hopes for, expects, anticipates her surrender. Hence the soaring harmonic entreaties: desire is all, love heals all pain, and these two shall mend their ways and bridge their erstwhile distance. How they'll do it is extra-lyrical; it lies beyond explicit words. I'll grant you that passion will be its carrier...but to suggest that there's only one avenue towards its realization makes the whole song trivial, to my mind. And the theme of this song is no mere schoolboy ribaldry.

"Please Please Me", one of the Beatles' earliest masterpieces, is also the obverse of their *last* message to us all. When they finally reach that elusive state of satori, love's equation is in harmonious balance: love made equals love taken. In "Please Please Me", that's all this young man wants. What a simple thing to ask...but how difficult to find the partner with whom to solve that elusive sum!

--
"...These youngsters from Liverpool, and their conduct over here, not only as fine professional singers but as a group of fine youngsters, will leave an imprint on everyone over here who's met them." ------------------------------------------------saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu Click here to return to the rmb home page.

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