Songwriter Graham Gouldman had a unique style. In the songs “For Your Love” and “Bus Stop” he employed a “picardy cadence” or modulation from minor to parallel major (i.e., A-minor to A-major)., to the express going from something sad to something happier. Gouldman uses the same technique in his 1967 song “No Milk Today.” It was also the first Herman’s Hermits record to employ a string section as well as some awesome chimes in the bridge.
The three-word title is about tragedy and heartbreak. It refers to an old tradition of a milkman leaving bottles at the door each morning, and the resident sometimes leaving a note instructing him not to leave any milk that day. The song tells the story of a man who’s lover has abandoned him . While the message on the note seems quite mundane to passersby, it’s actually sad (“How could they know just what this message means? The end of my hopes, the end of my dreams.”)
In 1966, “No Milk Today” was in the Top 40 in the U.S., reaching #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 as a B-side to “There’s a Kind of Hush,” which made it to #4. However, it was a huge hit in several European countries (#1 in Norway and Australia, #2 in New Zealand, #3 in Sweden, and #7 in the U.K.).
In an interview 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.”