When was it recorded? Oct. 21-22, 1965
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 3, 1965 on “Rubber Soul”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
According to the Beatles Bible, “‘Nowhere Man’ was born of John Lennon’s feelings of isolation in his Weybridge home, where he spent hours in solitary contemplation away from the mayhem of Beatlemania.”
“I’d spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good and I finally gave up and lay down. Then ‘Nowhere Man’ came, words and music, the whole damn thing, as I lay down.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
“I was just sitting, trying to think of a song, and I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and going nowhere. Once I’d thought of that, it was easy. It all came out. No, I remember now, I’d actually stopped trying to think of something. Nothing would come. I was cheesed off and went for a lie down, having given up. Then I thought of myself as Nowhere Man – sitting in his nowhere land.” — John Lennon (Hunter Davies, The Beatles)
Paul suspects the song was about John’s marriage at the time. Quoth Paul, ““I think at that point, he was a bit… wondering where he was going, and to be truthful so was I.”
According to Wikipedia, “‘Nowhere Man’ is among one of the very first Beatles songs to be entirely unrelated to romance or love, and marks a notable instance of Lennon’s philosophically oriented songwriting.”
The Beatles recorded “Nowhere Man” on Oct. 21 and 22. After a rehearsal period, the first session produced two takes, the first of which was incomplete. The band began anew the next day. They recorded three takes of the rhythm track, then overdubbed vocals onto Take Two.
On Feb. 21, 1966, “Nowhere Man” was released as a single in North America. It peaked at #3 on the US charts and at #1 in Australia and Canada. [I realize Australia is not a country in North America, but there wasn’t a way to work that fact into the first sentence that wasn’t clunky as hell.]
Quoth the Beatles Bible, “‘Nowhere Man’ made its way into The Beatles’ live repertoire, and was one of the songs performed during their final concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in August 1966.”
“Nowhere Man” also appeared in the 1968 film “Yellow Submarine.” According to About.com, the movie “contains a strange little character named Jeremy Hilary Boob, who leads the four ‘Beatles’ around a place called ‘Pepperland.’ In the film, this song is used to define Jeremy as a lonely character.” I couldn’t find a version I could embed that was in English, so you’ll have to follow the following link to view that segement.