Second Chance

Album: Rock & Roll Strategy (1988)
Charted: 6


  • In this song, the singer is pleading for forgiveness, asking his girl to give him a second chance after making the mistake of cheating on her. .38 Special guitarist Jeff Carlisi wrote it with the Los Angeles songwriter Cal Curtis, and it was originally titled "I Never Wanted Anyone Else But You." When they played the demo for their new keyboard player Max Carl, he came up the new title. Carlisi told American Songwriter magazine: "He said the guy in the song sounded like a real jerk. I said 'yeah, but a lot of people have been through this and want forgiveness.' Max said 'yeah, maybe the guy needs a second chance.' And that was the title. I think lyrically what Cal sketched out was brilliant, but the real thing that touches people is that one simple phrase 'a heart needs a second chance.' No one had said it like that before and that's what makes a great song."
  • Max Carl sang lead on this track. Along with Donnie Van Zant, he handled some of the vocals during his stay with .38 Special, which lasted 1988-1992.
  • This was the biggest chart hit for .38 Special, and while it didn't have the Classic Rock staying power of their songs like "Caught Up In You" and "Hold On Loosely," it was the biggest Adult Contemporary hit of 1989, and when Billboard published their list of the top AC songs of all time in 2011, this came in at #24.

Comments: 1

  • The Rock from ChicagoThe original writer of "Second Chance" is Cal Curtis, my old roomie back in the day - we lived the next block over from the old A & M Recording Studio in Hollywood. Like 38 Special, he was from Atlanta and knew them before he moved to LA. That said, this account doesn't match my recollection of the history of this song at all. I DO remember thinking it was a hit, and Cal's version was shorter/simpler; Even though it became an evergreen smash hit with 38 Special, I remember thinking it was a better song before the rewrite. Wisely, they were smart enough not to change the best & hookiest parts of the song for the 38 Special version.

    I'm pretty sure Cal also gave up the lion's share of the royalties/publishing as part of this whole thing, but 38 Special was an established band & brand, in a position to make something happen with Cal's tune - and that they did. I would love to hear Cal's original version again somewhere, and see who else might share my opinion about which version they think is best?
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