I was just mentioning the Rod Argent-Colin Blunstone reunion tour, and this reminded me what a startling, even frightening song "She's Not There" is.
Released by the Zombies in 1964, it's one of the great songs of the British Invasion, highlighted by Argent's jazzy organ and Blunstone's high, breathy vocals. The song's spookiness dervies primarily from the detachment with which Blunstone deals with his passion; his voice has a chill to it that Sting has similarly approached but never quite achieved.
- Well no one told me about her
The way she lied
Well no one told me about her-rr
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 tryng to find her
She's not there
Which translates to something like:
"You, my friends, didn't tell me about this psycho bitch: she lies, she breaks hearts like twigs. Don't bother to apologize now; but you should have, could have, warned me.
"She has powers - she's a devil woman. I'm going to do what you all should have done: warn the unsuspecting world!"
The linguistic meaning of the phrase "she's not there" is ambiguous. Normally a person describing such a situation would say "she's not here," meaning "I am here, in this particular space and time, but she is not."
In other words, under normal circumstances, the only place he knows for sure that she is not is where he is. In theory, she could be anywhere else - unless he isn't referring to geography.
One possible explanation for this odd use of "there" would refer to the woman's mental state: she isn't "there" even when she is there. Her attention isn't focused on her physical surroundings. It is very disconcerting to be with someone who''s attention is elsewhere:
"What? Did you say something? I'm sorry - my mind was elsewhere. Was it good for you too?"
Not terribly flattering.
The woman's attention may be elsewhere, but her appearance is beguiling:
- Well let me tell you 'bout the way she looks
The way she acts and the color of her hair
Her voice is soft and cool
Hereyes are clear and bright
But she's not there
These attributes are invitations to disaster: like the Siren's song or the Venus' flytrap alluring scent. Each victim finds out for himself - each is sucked into the woman's vortex to find the exquisite horrors that lie within.