“John said ‘Nowhere Man’ came only after he’d given up on writing. The song arrived on Rubber Soul, the 1965 record George Harrison called the band’s “first fully fledged pothead album.” On this track, John sang about a character who’s “as blind as can be” and doesn’t even manage to have a point of view.
When John spoke about composing “Nowhere Man,” he stressed how different the songwriting experience was for him.
By the time The Beatles tackled “Nowhere Man” in October ’65, they had completed several key tracks for Rubber Soul. “Drive My Car,” the opener by Paul McCartney, and “If I Needed Someone,” George to the California sound, were already on tape.
The same goes for “In My Life” and “Norwegian Wood,” two John had brought to the studio earlier in the Rubber Soul sessions. But John would still come out with “Nowhere Man,” a song that came to him after a long night of frustrating attempts at writing.
In his ’60s Beatles biography, Hunter Davies quoted John explaining how his frustrations ceased. “I’d actually stopped trying to think of something,” John said. “Nothing would come. I […] went for a lie down, having given up. Then I thought of myself as Nowhere Man, sitting in this Nowhere Land.”
Looking back on writing “Nowhere Man” in 1980, John continued the story. “[It] came, words and music, the whole damn thing, as I lay down,” he told David Sheff in All We Are Saying. “So letting it go is what the whole game is.”
‘Nowhere Man’ became 1 of the last new songs The Beatles performed live.
When The Beatles embarked on their final tour, they had just finished Revolver (1966), an album with several songs they wouldn’t consider playing live.
The final Beatles live sets only featured songs up to Rubber Soul. But the Fab Four also passed on most of that album on their ’66 tour.
However, “Nowhere Man” was one of two Rubber Soul tracks to make the cut. (George’s “If I Needed Someone” was the other.)