The Argotist Online
Argent is a musician, singer, songwriter, composer and record producer. In a
career spanning more than 50 years, he came to prominence in the mid 1960s as
the founder and keyboardist of the psychedelic rock group The Zombies, who
formed part of the British Pop Invasion of the US throughout the 1960’s, along
with bands such as The Beatles, The Stones, The Animals, The Faces and The
Yardbirds. Formed in 1962, the group released their debut album, Begin Here,
which contained the hit ‘She's Not There’. The band released their second
album Odessey and Oracle in 1968, which contained the hit ‘Time of the
Season’. The group continued to record through the 1960s but disbanded in1967.
was one of the main composers of The Zombies' music, and made major lyrical
contributions to the group’s songs. He was one of the group's two main
songwriters, penning the hits ‘She's Not There, ‘Tell Her No’ and ‘Time
of the Season, amongst others. And as their keyboardist he used a variety of
instruments, including the Mellotron, the harpsichord and the organ.
the group disbanded, he went on to form another group called Argent, which had a
hit album in 1972 with All Together Now, which contained the single
‘Hold Your Head Up’. His Hammond B3 solo on that track is cited by Rick
Wakeman as the greatest organ solo ever. The group disbanded in 1976.
addition to his work with the Zombies and Argent, he has composed music for
television series, been a session musician, produced albums by other artists,
and has had a solo career, which has included three studio albums: Moving
Home, Red House and Classically Speaking. And he has played
keyboards with a number of musicians, including piano on the title track of The
Who's album Who Are You, and on Variations with Gary Moore, Julian
Lloyd Webber and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
1987, he formed a production company with ex-Van Morrison drummer Peter Van
Hooke which produced a number of artists, including Nanci Griffith's album Late
Night Grande Hotel.
1999, he recorded a solo piano album, Rod Argent Classically Speaking, in
which he played Chopin études and music by Ravel, Bach, and Grieg, as well as
three of his own compositions.
2004, he and The Zombies’ vocalist Colin Blunstone recorded a new album, As
Far as I Can See in the style of The Zombies. A subsequent album Colin
Blunstone and Rod Argent of the Zombies Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre
received favourable reviews, as did their 2007 US tour. One critic noted, ‘The
Zombies, still led by original keyboard wizard Rod Argent and featuring the
smoked-silk vocals of Colin Blunstone, is the best 60s band still touring which
doesn't have Mick Jagger as a front man’.
He has continued to tour with Colin Blunstone as The Zombies, and in April 2009 the original surviving members of the band played four reunion concerts performing the album Odessey and Oracle. This led to a group reunion. The current line up consists of founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, alongside Steve Rodford and Tom Toomey, with Danish fan Soren Koch stepping in to replace the late Jim Rodford.
Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
Song lyrics are not the same as poetry, because lyrics primarily have to sound
good when sung. Sometimes a lyric can add to the muscularity or energy of a
phrase, for instance, or enhance the rise and fall of a musical line purely from
a sonic point of view alone. The requirements are different from lines which
have to be effective or moving when read or spoken.
I do love to include devices such as internal rhyme and to write with a deal of
poetic imagery and rhythm and structure which I believe have elements in common
with poetry, depending on the subject and mood of the song. Just one example:
wheel hard across the sky
I want to fly
the days go so slow
no way to satisfy
just must break free, 'cause I'
want to fly
the ordinary world
the earth and make a wish
say a prayer for the lonely ones
fantasies that I
as they race by
my heart is breaking
for the reason why
I want to fly...
beginning of The Zombies' ‘I Want To Fly’)
Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
I don't actually think songs have to rhyme—but most of the time I
believe rhyming does provide a positive effect, and can just be a
pleasing element in itself. It also can often help propel a song with a
sort of forward momentum.
Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as
clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can
also be like free verse?
I personally believe that structure is perhaps the most important element in the
writing of a good song. I think it's something which holds true for
almost all art. But it doesn't have to be something that's often used,
or easily recognised. It just has to be there, and it has to work! It can
be invented. You certainly don't have to use a well-tried formula of verse,
chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight, chorus etc., although there's nothing wrong
with that, either. Good structure in a song gives the listener a sense of
satisfaction. It can be set up intuitively, but I believe it's important that it
When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to
the music you enjoyed?
I felt a tremendous connection between poetry and the music I enjoyed, I was
actually passionate about many different forms of music—I'd love early Elvis,
Bach, The Beatles, Blues and Miles Davis absolutely equally, and in a strange
way got the same transcendent feeling from the best of all of them. And it was
the same feeling I got from the wonderful music of Wordsworth's ‘Tintern
Abbey’, or W. B. Yeats's ‘The Cloths of Heaven’ or ‘The Second
Coming’ or ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ etc. etc.
Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
Well, not directly—but indirectly yes, hugely. The use of meter, stress and
rhythm in phrases, for example. (In ‘She's Not There’, the Zombies first
hit, the third section builds to a climax on a final major chord. I very much
used these elements to build to a climax—‘Well let me tell you 'bout the way
she looked, the way she acted, the colour
of her hair’—and so on). And of course the feeling of flow and
Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
Songs are just a different, generally more accessible medium; I also feel that
most people react initially to the music rather than the words on first
hearing a song... Some poems of course have an immediate impact, but often the
best benefit from concentration and measured assimilation over time before they
reveal a full flowering.