Written and sung by John Lennon, Not A Second Time featured on the group’s second album With The Beatles.
The song was reviewed “The Times’” music critic William Mann, who wrote a musicological treatise on Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting, published on 27 December 1963.
“Harmonic interest is typical of their quicker songs, too, and one gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody, so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat submediant key switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of Not A Second Time (the chord progression which ends Mahler’s Song of the Earth).”
William Mann – The Times
Lennon was dismissive of the critique. In the Anthology book, Lennon is quoted as saying:
“I still don’t know what it means at the end, but it made us acceptable to the intellectuals. It worked and we were flattered. I wrote Not A Second Time and, really, it was just chords like any other chords. To me, I was writing a Smokey Robinson or something at the time.”
In 1980 he returned to the phrase Aeolian cadences, saying:
“To this day I don’t have any idea what they are. They sound like exotic birds.”
Despite Lennon’s flippancy, the musical structure of Not A Second Time is noteworthy. In Revolution In The Head, Ian MacDonald described it as "a rambling affair composed of an irregular fourteen-bar verse joined to a ten-bar chorus which sounds like a middle eight."
Lennon tended to write his lyrics first, then fitted chords and melody around the words. While the results here are certainly interesting, the out-of-time introduction, barely audible bass and George Martin’s rudimentary grand piano solo suggest it was regarded as little more than a filler track to complete the album.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Steve Bolton has worked with Keith Richards, David Bowie, Paul Young, David Gilmour, Belinda Carlisle, Carl Palmer, Dominic Miller, Manu Katché, John Otway and The Who.