Artist: The Zombies
Album: The Zombies (Parrot)
Written by Rod Argent, who wrote many other classic rock songs, She’s Not There was the first hit by the Zombies. It is also one of those songs that, if you have only heard Santana’s version (1977), you should listen to the original, without all the stylized onion-layers. This is truly one of the greatest rock songs ever written, and adding superfluous instrumentation doesn’t improve it. As well, singer Colin Blunstone’s quiet and laid-back vocal style is as important to the song as the riff and the hook, not to mention a driving bass line.
She’s Not There went to No. 12 on the U.K. charts and all the way to No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Charts, as well as to No. 1 in Cashbox. At the time, this made The Zombies the only British band other than the Beatles to reach to top of the U.S. charts with an original song.
According to Argent, the song was inspired by a John Lee Hooker song called “No One Told Me,” and you can recognize the title in the opening lyrics.
I mentioned the bass line. One reason I don’t understand why so many people love the Santana version is the bass riff. The Santana version doesn’t have it. Unlike many bass lines in rock songs, which are improvised after the song is written, the bass line for The Zombies “She’s Not There” was specifically written. Argent specifically commented on the part of the song that goes “it’s too late to say you’re sorry” which switches from a major to a minor chord, while the bass plays the major third and then the minor third, instead of the root. Those little touches mean a lot when you can actually hear them.
Argent’s piano playing on the song later helped inspired Roger McGuinn’s twelve-string solo on Eight Miles High.
The B-side from the album, Tell Her No, went to No. 6 on the U.S. charts and after this the band went on the road with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. The Zombies were a big deal that year, in 1965, especially among the shrieking teenage girl set. Despite this, subsequent singles didn’t perform as well. The dozen song album “The Zombies” was put together and released in the U.S. in 1965, and consisted of songs recorded for their U.K. debut album Begin Here.
The only other big hit by The Zombies was Time of the Season from the album Odessey and Oracle, which is just as recognizable. It is claimed that the song was part of a deliberate push by producer Ken Jones to have another song like the first hit. By the time the song was released, in 1968, the band was already broken up. When the song landed on the charts, they reformed to tour.
Despite the few well-known songs and the short life (which was typical) of the band, many of the band’s other songs are just as musically and lyrically interesting. The band has since reformed and continues to tour and make music today. They released their latest album Still Got That Hunger in October of 2015.
The original lineup consisted of Colin Blunstone on lead vocals, Rod Argent on keys and vocals, Paul Atkinson on guitar and vocals; Paul Arnold on bass; and Hugh Grundy on drums.
Rod Argent has written many other classic rock songs, including for his own band Argent. You may recognize Hold your Head Up, which has been covered many times. You’ve probably heard on the radio many times but never knew the band. And, you know that Kiss song from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, God Gave Rock and Roll to You? It’s not a Kiss song, it’s an Argent song. Amen.
She’s Not There – The Zombies Beginning Lyrics
Well, no one told me about her
The way she lied
Well, no one told me about her
How many people cried
But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know, why should I care?
Please don’t bother trying to find her
She’s not there
More 1960s Music
- I Know Forever Well Be Doing It: Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’
- After Midnight by Eric Clapton: Who Did It First?
- I’ve Got the Music in Me: Kiki Dee
- No One Knows What It’s Like (To Be the Bad Man): What Song Is It?
- I Think It Was The 4th Of July (Saturday in the Park)
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