Thursday, 10 June 2010

Chapter 2.9 With The Beatles - Not A Second Time?

In every great artist's bottom draw there are a million failed experiments and 'nearly great' works of art.

Not A Second Time is one.

We get Beatlisms a plenty but it just doesn’t gel.

We get the Aeolian cadence in the bridge (finishing on the vi (Em) rather than the I (G).

And where several songs on this album kick off with a vi I progression they keep shaking things up by trying the chords the other way round (I vi - G Em) instead.

But nevertheless the song plods along aimlessly, stopping by a soporific piano solo before (horror of horrors!) fading out (perhaps through lack of interest).

What’s missing? 

(other than a proper ending)?

Backing vocals. Non diatonic chords.

But I think the song is killed by an overdose of melisma and the fact that nothing happens lyrically.

Lennon’s not doing anything.
Not even crying.
And he’s certainly going to go out with her again.

Yes, A Second Time!

Here’s a funny thing. Listen to the vocal phrase at 1:54. (give or take a second if you're watching the video)


Now listen to the vocal phrase in All I’ve Got To Do at 0:10.


Exactly the same melody and rhythm! How’s that for recycling?

Not a second time my eye!

Today’s lessons?

  1. Use melisma sparingly, unless your name is Handel.
  2. Try make sure something happens in your lyrics.
  3. It’s OK to blatantly steal (as long as you’re stealing from yourself).


Lennon stretches ‘you’ and ‘time’ out here for seven notes. FAIL.
What the longest example that you can think of that actually works?


  1. Matt, this is awesome. Especially love the "Ticket to Write" page here.

    I agree about melisma. It's risky business. I find a good general rule is to only use it when you inflect in such a way that it adds emotional color or depth to the word.

  2. Thanks Nick

    I'm loving your blog too.

    Keep checking back - I might even have the Ticket to write page updated!