Music education always & always looking forward.

Direct Modulation and Symmetrical Compound Meter in The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year"

Possibly one of the more-forgotten bands of the British Invasion, The Zombies' singles in the US are memorable.  What's pretty cool, though, is that some of their deeper album cuts are even better.  This particular song is one of my favorites (spoiler alert!  I'm going to be writing about some of my favorite songs all this week!) and one that got a lot of play in my house during my wedding planning.  And it's a perfectly safe listening example for the classroom.  Yay!

“This Will Be Our Year” - The Zombies

Intro: Formed in 1962 in St. Albans, UK, The Zombies achieved modest success in the crowded 1960s rock scene. Riding the tide of the British Invasion, the band scored a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “She's Not There” in 1964 and a #3 rank on the same American chart with “Time of the Season” in 1969. The 1968 album Odyssey and Oracle featured “Time of the Season” as well as “This Will Be Our Year.” While the album received tepid critical response at the time of its release, it has since been slated at #100 on Rolling Stone's list of Top 500 Albums of All Time.

Analysis: Running a relatively brief 2:07, the lyrics discuss warmth and love, following a piano intro (with the bass note chromatically descending) in A major. The entire song contains three very short verses, each immediately followed by a short (two line) chorus (“this will be our year / took a long time to come”). In between the second repetition of the chorus and the third verse, there is a brief bridge section. At almost exactly the halfway point in the song (0:58), the key shifts up a half step to Bb, and repeats the same lyrics from the first half of the song. The vocal melody changes slightly, exploring higher range and seeming to reassure the partner to whom the narrator is speaking to, matching lyrics such as “don't let go of my hand / now darkness has gone”. Just as many key changes seek to restate the theme of a song or sometimes indicate shifting ideas, the key change here seeks to give permanence to the otherwise simply, sweet lyrics.  Additionally, the song is in 12/8 time, making it a good example of compound symmetrical meter. 

Considerations for Teaching: This song contains no inappropriate subject matter or language, and with its short length, it is long enough to keep students' attention, as well as possibly spark a discussion about what idea the key change is intended to communicate musically.

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