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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nowhere Man b/w What Goes On

On February 21st, 1966, Capitol Records continued its policy of issuing a single created from two tracks it had held in reserve from the most recent British album.  Rubber Soul had presented the American label with a number of superior songs from which to choose a suitable A-side including Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), Michelle, Girl and In My Life, but it was Nowhere Man that was ultimately selected.  And, banking once again on Ringo's popularity among Stateside fans, What Goes On was chosen for the B-side.

After Eight Days a Week b/w I Don't Want to Spoil the Party and Yesterday b/w Act Naturally, Capitol was hoping to continue its string of self-created number one singles, but this one stalled at number three.  (The number one spot for the entire month of March was occupied by The Ballad of the Green Berets, which held on to become the number one single of the year.)  In retrospect, perhaps McCartney's love ballad Michelle would have been preferable to Lennon's introspective mid-tempo number - the first non-love song produced by the Beatles.

The picture sleeve recycled a photograph from the back cover of the 1964 UK album Beatles for Sale, which Capitol had already used as the front cover for The Early Beatles in early '65.

The next single, both sides of which were recorded early on during the sessions for the group's upcoming album, not only featured two songs that were not about love, it also introduced a richer, bass-heavy sound uncharacteristic of anything else in the Fab Four's previous catalog.  Paperback Writer b/w Rain gave fans a tantalizing glimpse of the work-in-progress that would transform the band from live performers to full time studio musicians.

This worldwide single was issued here in the US on May 30th, eleven days ahead of its British release.  As it hit number one on the charts, work continued on the accompanying groundbreaking album so, in the meantime, Capitol prepared yet another compilation album.

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