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8.06-BEECHWOOD PARK (Zombies)

Zombies

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Do you remember summer days
Just after summer rain
When all the air was damp and warm
In the green of country lanes?

        And the breeze would touch your hair
        Kiss your face and make you care
                About your world
                Your summer world
        And we would count the evening stars
        As the day grew dark
        In Beechwood Park.

Do you remember golden days
And golden summer sun
The sound of laughter in our ears
In the breeze as we would run?

        [Repeat B Section]

                All roads in my mind
                Take me back in my mind
                        And I can't forget you
                        Won't forget you
                Won't forget those days
                And Beechwood Park.

        [Repeat B Section]

                [Chorus]


Odyssey and OracleThe Zombies had released two Top 10 singles in America in 1964, during the “British Invasion”: She’s Not There and Tell Her No. Then they disappeared from the American charts entirely until Time of the Season was released as a single in March 1969. In 1964, the jazz inflected music was way ahead of fashion, sounding more like Yes would in the 1970s than the ‘60s Beatles. When Odessey and Oracle was recorded in Abbey Road Studios, beginning in June 1967, right after the Beatles had completed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, they were still ahead of the times. (The Zombies used the same four track tape machine as the Beatles, along with their same sound engineer, and the mellotron that the Beatles left behind, but the album sounds far less like Sgt. Pepper than most other psychedelic albums recorded in the second half of 1967. Because the Zombies had a limited budget, the group used the mellotron a lot, rather than hiring orchestral musicians.) The album sounded so little like the psychedelic music of the period that their recording company refused to release it. In 1968, public taste, a bit more jazzed up by such groups as Traffic and Blood, Sweat and Tears, made the Zombies album a bit more accessible. When Al Kooper (founder of Blood, Sweat and Tears) heard the Odessey and Oracle record in London, he persuaded Columbia Records to release the album in the United States, after nearly a year delay. Its release was not welcomed at the time by positive critical reception or sales, but a cut from the album slowly started making its way as a single—almost another year later, Time of the Season became the Zombie’s best-selling single in the U.S. Psychedelic music by that time was waning in popularity, and a new form, called “progressive rock” was beginning to gain popularity. Time of the Season fit right in; its time had come.

The initial neglect of Odessey and Oracle led to the Zombies breaking up as a group in late 1967, and probably accounts for the lack of attention given to spelling the title of album correctly when it was finally released. But over the years, Odessey has been rescued from obscurity and is frequently mentioned by critics as one of the psychedelic gems one must go back to listen to. (Other such albums, unremarked at the time but appreciated in later decades, include Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Love’s Forever Changes, and the album United States of America.) Most of the songs included in Odessey have well-formed pop melodies worthy of the Hollies, and what psychedelic effects are included are executed with a light touch, a cultured restraint.

Beechwood Park received its psychedelic aspect by the use of vibrato to make a mellow tone on the lead guitar playing a melodic line, combined with an organ playing chords. It joins Itchycoo Park and Strawberry Fields as a place to take the listener, but the Zombies place the park into the realm of shared memory, a place and a season previously enjoyed with a special companion. (Strawberry Fields, of course, is also located in the past, but it is more of a place of the mind in which the listener is invited to participate in the present.) Unfortunately, the melody is brought to a conclusion with barbershop harmonies.

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