The Zombies recorded this in one take after they won a talent contest at their college called the Herts Beat competition. The prize was a recording session.
The group signed to Decca Records, and their keyboard player Rod Argent came up with this song for the session. It tells the story of an alluring woman who won't be tied down to one man - the singer wants to tell us all about her, but he can only use words, since she's not there.
This was The Zombies first single. The band also recorded a cover of Gershwin's "Summertime" for their first album, which was considered for the band's first single, but "She's Not There" got the nod. Boosted by radio play on New York powerhouse WINS, the song became a hit in the US.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
Some of the chord changes Rod Argent used were inspired by Brian Hyland's "Sealed With A Kiss."
This was The Zombies biggest hit. Even though it did very well, their next releases didn't catch on until 1969, when they hit US #3 with "Time Of The Season." Unfortunately, the band had already broken up by then and Rod Argent had started his own group, Argent, with Zombies bassist Chris White on board as a songwriter.
Lead singer Colin Blunstone re-recorded this in the early '70s under the name Neil MacArthur. His version went to #34 in the UK.
The lead instrument is an electric piano, which was very unusual at the time. In the UK, it was the first hit song with an electric piano as the lead instrument.
The song got a big boost when it was judged on the UK TV show Juke Box Jury, where a panel of musical authorities would pass judgment on a song. The week this song appeared, George Harrison was a panelist, and he gave the song a good review.
Santana covered this on their 1977 album Moonflower. Their version hit #27 in the US and #11 in the UK; it was the only non-live song from the otherwise live album. It was the last Santana cover song to chart. From here on out, the band would experiment with more Jazz-sounding material. Moonflower was also the last album before Supernatural to sell more than a million copies.
Suggestion credit: Jim - Oxnard, CA
Rod Argent on the marriage of lyrics and melodies: "Words have to sit, they have to sort of combine seamlessly with the way the melody is being sung. I know I was very concerned with the lyrics on 'She's Not There' but in the sense that they had to really complement the melody. They had to stand on their own, and had to have their own rhythm and, in that last section I was using the words with different stresses at different times to propel it along towards the final chord. So lyrics have always been very important to me in that way, but not necessarily in a sense of having to explain something concrete. They're an important part of the jigsaw, because I think bad lyrics can screw up a song."
This song was inspired by John Lee Hooker's "No One Told Me" from his 1964 LP The Big Soul Of John Lee Hooker. Argent explained: "If you play that John Lee Hooker song you'll hear 'no one told me, it was just a feeling I had inside' but there's nothing in the melody or the chords that's the same. It was just the way that little phrase just tripped off the tongue. I'd always thought of the verse of 'She's Not There' to be mainly Am to D. But what I'd done, quite unconsciously, was write this little modal sequence incorporating those chord changes. There was an additional harmonic influence in that song. In the second section it goes from D to D minor and the bass is on the thirds, F# and F, a little device I'd first heard in 'Sealed With A Kiss' and it really attracted me, that chord change with bass notes not on the roots. And I'm sure I was showing off in the solo as much as I could!"
This song was born in bassist/vocalist Chris White's bedroom and only had one verse until producer Ken Jones heard it. "I remember we were playing in Hatfield, and Ken Jones came up to hear us. And after the gig, Rod said, 'I've got this song that we've been rehearsing' and he played it to Ken on the piano. He did the verse, and then the solo, and there was no second verse, and Ken said 'Can't we go back to the beginning again?' So Rod had to write another verse, because it only had one originally."
On 'She's Not There' Ken Jones also instigated a recurring trait of many Zombies' recordings: additional overdubs added in the mixdown to mono stage from 4-track. In this case, there were a couple of extra beats superimposed to create a distinctive drum pattern, thereby rendering the original mono single mix of 'She's Not There' the only 'correct' version of the song.
Suggestion credit: DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation, for above 3
Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals on this track became a signature sound for the group, but their producer, Ken Jones, had him use the technique throughout their first album, which blunted the effect. That album was released in 1965, and was their last until 1968, when they issued Odessey and Oracle, which the band produced themselves.
This reached its US chart peak of #2 on the second week of December 1964. This earned the group an invite to the Murray the K Christmas show on December 29 at the Fox Theater in New York City on a bill with Ben E. King, The Shangri-Las, The Shirelles, and several other popular acts. It was the first time the band came to the city, and it was a seminal moment for them, as they got to meet many of their idols and soak up some American culture. They spent a lot of time with Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells, who introduced them to the music of Aretha Franklin. On their 2015 album Still Got That Hunger, The Zombies recorded a song about this experience called "New York."
This provides the soundtrack for a 2016 Kohler commercial that follows a faucet thief known as "The Jackal" who changes her appearance to evade the police.
Arthur from Methuen, MaThis is probably the most covered song I know of. Not only did Santana cover it, but the band "The Road" had a hit with it, and so did "Vanilla Fudge".
David from Lakeland, FlIn the beginning of the song you can hear his lips smack before he says "the way she lied". Zombies version is better than Santana in my opinion.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 12th, 1965, the Zombies performed "She's Not There" on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo'... This was the debut episode of 'Hullabaloo'; its last show was on April 11th, 1966 after a grand total of first run 48 episodes.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 6th, 1964, "She's Not There" by the Zombies peaked at #2 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on October 31st, 1964 and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100... The record that kept it out of the top spot was "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton.
Natu from Addis Ababa, EthiopiaI first heard Santana's version; the keyboard intro, the vocals and the hypnotizing solo....like they did in 'Black magic woman' they give this song a 'touch of grace'.
Richard from Bexhill On Sea, United KingdomThe Herts Beat competition they won was in fact at Watford Town Hall in front of several thousand people. I know - I was in one of the other bands!
Roman from Barrie, OnRecently (Sept. '11) scored front row seats for their concert at a local casino. With the freedom of performing live, they were better than on a CD. Not a single soul in the audience under 40. They performed some new songs from a new CD as well. Colin sang his heart out and Rod played the daylights out of his keyboards !
Barry from Sauquoit, NyThree of the five records that The Zombies released in the USA made the Top 10; In 1964 "She's Not There" was #2 for one week, then "Tell Her No" peaked at #6 in 1965, and finally "Time of the Season" reached #3 in 1969!!!
Constance from Dallas, TxYes this song was covered on Kill Bill 2, however it is like a remix not the whole song. It just takes a few lines from the orignal song "She's Not There" mixed with a song from the great African American jazz/blues singer Bessie Smith for the 1930's "My Man". It has a slow cool hip beat remix.
Snow from Sierra Foothills, CaWell, I am amazed!!I still get those goose bumps. 1967 to 2009. I feel that a natural voice came out. It is very seldom to hear. The catching of one's breath as you put forth your emotions in song. I do thank the Zombies....Snow
Musicmama from New York, NyThis song plays a prominent role of novelist Jennifer Boylan's eponymous memoir. That book tells the story of her evolution from a boy/man named James, and the song recurs in it, like thunder muttering through some dream one gets drunk or high in order to forget, and returns at the moment she realizes she can no longer live as a man. I have always loved this song, but it means even more to me now because of Jennifer Boylan's book, which also means a lot to me because I've taken the same journey that she's made.
James from Arlington, TxFor those wondering about the Kill Bill song, it's on Kill Bill Vol. 2: "About Her" by Malcolm McLaren.
Dave from Cardiff, Wales"I like how Santana makes this song a Santana song" - not entirely true Johnny, there's no such thing as an artists taking someone else's song and making it their own. The only way in which Santana's version was radically different was that they added an all-new introduction and they also re-worked the ending so that it faded out instead of ending after the final chrous instead, other than that it wasn't really that different. That said, I did like the high-octane blues guitars Carlos Santana used in the cover
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI didn't know songs with e;lectric pianos were that rare. The piano part is good on the original version.
Jon from Oakridge, OrHello Stefanie.
Jon from Oakridge, OrIt WAS covered in Kill Bill milen,Sofia,Bulgaria. It's in the 2nd soundtrack. That's one of the reasons I have it.
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI like how Santana makes this song a Santana song, makes it much different from the original. Steph: Covered by Santana not too long after. very good cover, I might add. Me: Steph, not so long after? That's longer then I have been alive!
Milen from Sofia, BulgariaIsn't that song covered in Kill Bill's soundtrack.?
Dave from Cardiff, WalesI didn't like Santana's version as much as the original; it was still very good as covers go, though
Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScYeah! The cover's great! I've heard it.
Steph from Ottawa, CanadaCovered by Santana not too long after. Very good cover, I might add.