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This song about a love that is lost became a hit in 1968, a few month after its release, when the American public turned away from The Beatles after John Lennon's statements that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus. (thanks, JL - Bretagne, France)
This was written by future 10cc member Graham Gouldman. Among other '60s hits written by Gouldman were "Bus Stop
" by the Hollies and "For Your Love
" by the Yardbirds.
The lyrics were inspired by Gouldman's father. The songwriter explained to Mojo
magazine in 2011: "He'd been to visit a friend of his and noticed the milk bottle on the doorstep with the note, 'no milk today'. He came back and said to me, 'You should write a song called No Milk Today,' and I said 'What's so interesting about milk?', and he said, 'It's nothing to do with milk! There's nobody in the house, the house is empty, the love has left the house.' He helped me see it from a whole different point of view. Thanks, dad."
This was Herman's Hermit's first single to employ an orchestra.
In the US, this appeared on the B-side of Herman's Hermits cover of The Kinks' "Dandy," which peaked at #5. However in the UK, this was released as the A-side, the flip side "My Reservation's Been Confirmed," being a self-penned rocker.
According to the Stylus magazine (June 2006), this "Is quite possibly the most compacted structure of any song from the period. Not that you might notice. The tune is so clever that it manages some perceptual tricks. If you are at all familiar with 'No Milk Today,' you may be surprised to learn that it is comprised of 16 sections." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 4)
In an interview with the Forgotten Hits newsletter, Hermit's lead singer Peter Noone said: "Personally I think 'No Milk Today' is Herman's Hermits' best recording, and perfectly captures the moment and the feel of Manchester terraced houses and what was the end of a British era. I recall it was made at Lansdown Studios and that we recorded a few other songs that day, probably 'There's A Kind Of Hush,' 'Dandy' and 'No Milk Today.' This was in the period where we (Mick and I) had just stopped using The Hermits on the recordings and were using the best musicians available to us to try to keep up with what had suddenly become The British Invasion. We were supposed to deliver 48 tracks a year to MGM so we were always scrambling to catch up. I recall that John Paul Jones played bass guitars (an upright and a fender bass) on the tracks and was also responsible for the arrangements which I dare say are brilliant on all 3 tracks but I know he liked 'No Milk Today' and I would suggest that his arrangement turned this perfect Graham Gouldman song into a hit. I think that after we had the tracks down then I did the lead vocal and then Karl Green, Keith Hopwood and I did the backgrounds, the songs were mixed and that was it." (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can join at The60sshop@aol.com.)
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