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Songs of Pain

It is interesting that of the four Beatles, Paul, the generally up-beat, happy-go-lucky optimist who wrote some of the sappiest, over-the-top saccharine Beatles’ songs also wrote three of their darkest and saddest songs.

The most famous is “Yesterday”, which is a pleasant if melancholic tune that belies the painfully true lyrics, a pain everyone will experience at some point in romance: the sudden pain of a lover’s departure. His other two songs both come from the album Revolver: “Eleanor Rigby” and “For No One”. Rigby is also a (relatively) famous song and tells the pain of loneliness, something many but not all will experience, and is certainly among the most frightening of pains, a pain that no one can help you bear. A very dark song, as no one wants to contemplate spending their last days surrounded by people yet in the company of no one.

But in my opinion, the best song on Revolver and one of the best in the entire Beatles’ discography is “For No One”. It is the sequel to “Yesterday”, it is a song about that last remnant of pain, not the pain that comes from a lover leaving but the gradual pain as you realize the love you once shared is dead in your opposite and, if you are to ever carry on with your life (as you must), you must now destroy that last remnant of love you harbor. It is a precious thing, building it was such a joy, yet destroy it you must, and realizing that she no longer cares at all about you, neither hating nor loving you, that is pain. And that is what “For No One” captures so beautifully and elegantly.

-SL

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