Record Machine: “Time of the Season” by The Zombies

My first thought when playing this 1968 single is that the A-side and the B-side almost sound like two different bands. The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” is a well-known, somewhat moody song, and the flip, “Friends of Mine,” could be mistaken for a twee modern band.

“Time of the Season” became a hit in 1969, over a year after the band had already broken up. It became somewhat synonymous with the massive cultural changes happening, particularly in the U.S. Previously, The Zombies had tried to find success in their native U.K., and then as a British Invasion group. They had a bit more success in the U.S., though of course it was nothing like the Beatles and Stones.

And yet, this success-by-accident single persists, and eventually led to The Zombies reforming in some capacity in the ’90s and from 2001 to the present. That call and response segment — “What’s your name / (What’s your name?) / Who’s your daddy? / (Who’s your daddy?) / Tell me is he rich like me?” — I feel like I’ve known it my whole life as one of those songs that is so tightly woven into pop culture that one never quite remembers when they first stumbled across it. I love the drums and that organ solo.

“Friends of Mine” was initially titled “I’ll Call You Mine” when it was released in the U.K., but the single never caught on. When Columbia Records tried again in the U.S., they initially kept the original title, but then switched it at some point.

And when I feel bad
When people disappoint me
That’s when I need you two
To help me believe

It feels so good to know two people
So in love…

It’s an upbeat tune with the background vocals listing off the names of couples — maybe people the band knew? I’m not sure — while singer Colin Blunstone talks about keeping the hope for love alive. It seems so cheery compared to “Time of The Season,” though neither song is a downer.

What’s funny about a band name like The Zombies when looking at it this many decades later is that my first instinct is to think of White Zombie or Rob Zombie, and not this moderately successful ’60s band. Kids of the ’90s might expect something louder, harder, forgetting that they’ve known one of their songs probably since infancy. “Time of the Season” appearances in pop culture are plentiful, and I’d wager that perhaps only “Age of Aquarius” or “Fortunate Son” are more ubiquitously associated with the end of that decade. The Zombies may not have been around long, but they made their time count.

Zombies - Friends of Mine

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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