I have a "thing" for Southern gothic stories. Bring me a book by Carson McCullers or some short stories by William Faulkner and I will hole up for days to read until I can no longer stay awake. In 1967 the Zombies entered EMI's Abbey Road Studios to record what would become their swan song, the Odessey and Oracle album. Rod Argent used a Falkner short story as the basis for A Rose For Emily, which appears as the second track on side one. The dense five part construction of the original story is jettisoned for a simple tale of a spinster who never finds love. But the tune itself and its arrangement - like everything on this album - is one-of-a-kind baroque pop of the most beautiful variety imaginable. Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals are unparalleled in pop music, and on this occasion he used his choirboy simplicity to evoke something antique. He effortlessly handles the leaping melodic twists, and the band joins him for the middle eight, their harmony vocals echoing clear and stark, imbuing an emotional burden almost too intense to bear. The closing lines bring no final respite for Emily's plight.
"The roses are fading now. She keeps her pride somehow it's all she has protecting her from pain. And as the years go by, she will grow old and die. The roses in her garden fade away, not one left for her grave, not a rose for Emily."