No Milk Today – in the Eternal Present

What’s the difference between the way you say the word today and the way Peter Noone sings it in No Milk Today? Does he sound angry with his milkman, happy or sad?

Peter stretches the diphthong of day to cover the musical notes. True. But does the music force him to stretch it quite as far as he does? No. He chooses to do extend it further. For good reason.

Peter stretches the second half of today surprisingly far. He knows the alteration will attract his audience’s attention. He’s turned an everyday word into an exotic plaything. For the sake of the song.

By stretching today he stretches the time that the word encompasses. He turns the today of his song into more than a single day. It becomes an Eternal Present. By stretching time he intensifies the song’s atmosphere of nostalgia for a paradise lost. Peter knows that it won’t just be No Milk Today – it will be No Milk Forever.

The rhyme of today and away is pivotal. The two words tell you all you need to know. Peter shortens the word away slightly to make it rhyme more closely with today.

Peter Noone studied voice and drama at the Manchester School of Music. He’s an actor and he tells the sad story of No Milk Today like an actor. Even if you’ve never lived in a terraced house in a mean street back of town where milk was delivered every day by a milkman, you can follow the story of the song thanks to Peter’s clear enunciation of the lyrics.

No Milk Today

No Milk in the Eternal Present

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. One word, used well, carries a universe of meaning when you sing.

© Sing Better English, 2014

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7 thoughts on “No Milk Today – in the Eternal Present”

    1. Thanks Thom. I doubt if any of it is consciously thought out before starting to sing either – I think it would be hard to plan and I think we’d be terrified to open our mouths if we fully realised the subtle power of the sounds that come out of them! I’d guess that it feels ‘right’ to the singer and so they keep doing it.
      Did you read the post about ‘Friday on my Mind’ too? You’ll like the dancing. https://singbetterenglish.wordpress.com/?s=friday+on+my+mine It’s written especially for singers from other countries, who often miss out consonants when they cover English songs that they’ve learnt by ear. Once I started writing it I started thinking about Stevie Wright doing clever things with the d of mind.

      We’re wonderful complicated creatures, we humans!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a passion you have for language! I’m currently occupied with writing next year’s syllabus for my ESL students and making my first tentative steps towards teaching pronouciation seriously. These articles have planted many ideas in my head, and my students love using songs in class. Not sure if this is the aim of your site, but a happy by-product nonetheless. Thank you.

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    1. Hi – yes, it was the original aim of the site. After spending years living abroad and teaching English, I saw a lot of contestants on competitions like Operación Triunfo or La Voz in Spain, or The Voice in other countries, struggling to sing in English.

      I’m a voice and language coach for singers and songwriters who work in English. I wanted to put some free, straightforward tips out in the world to help anyone who wants to sing in English. I started the blog with that in mind. It’s been helpful as a tool to clarify my own thoughts on language.

      If you want any help to find a post on the blog that would help a particular English pronunciation point, just let me know. There are a couple that deal specifically with schwas http://wp.me/p4f2mI-8V or http://wp.me/s4f2mI-crazy and there’s Jolene for getting the long English ee http://wp.me/s4f2mI-dolly. David Bowie’s Starman is good for the English ar where the r disappears http://wp.me/s4f2mI-starman. The Snake puts a new spin on phrasal verbs http://wp.me/p4f2mI-i4. The Bioshock post is good for the pure ooo of you http://wp.me/p4f2mI-a4 and Bang Bang has thoughts about the elastic sound of an English ng http://wp.me/p4f2mI-kT. All fun to sing along with.

      I’ll stop now before I list every post! I’ve tagged the pronunciation points, so you should be able to find whatever you want.

      One last thought – I bet your students would like the bath tub dancing in the d or th post about the Mamas and Papas http://wp.me/p4f2mI-1x

      Hope your classes go well and do let me know if I can point you towards any songs that help with pronunciation specifics.

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