As She & Him, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have delighted fans with a Christmas album and two volumes of pure pop bliss. As they gear up for the release of Volume 3, let’s explore some of the influences that have impacted their vintage-inspired work.
As the primary songwriter for She & Him, Zooey Deschanel has proven herself adept at several different styles. One of her specialties is the classic country ballad, with a pop twist. In the 60’s and 70’s, Linda Ronstadt typified this country-by-way-of-Southern-California sound. One of the biggest stars of the era, Linda began as a Laurel Canyon folkie, and made the transition to what would now be called alt country before going pop. She & Him songs like “Change is Hard”, “Take It Back”, and “I’m Gonna Make It Better” bear her influence. She is seen here performing her hit “Long Long Time” on the Johnny Cash Show in 1969.
Zooey has made no secret of her love for another Southern California band, the Beach Boys. Known for their genius leader and songwriter, Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys’ lush harmonies made them one of the biggest bands of all time. She & Him utilized some of their vocal techniques on songs like “Sentimental Heart”, “If You Can’t Sleep”, and “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here”, and followed the template of the Beach Boys’ Christmas album closely when making their own holiday record. They’ve also been known to cover Beach Boys songs “I Can Hear Music” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.
The girl group sound, exemplified by Phil Spector-produced groups like The Ronettes, has also made its mark on the music of She & Him. Lead singer Ronnie Bennett sang passionately over exuberant strings and pounding drums, much like the She & Him songs “Thieves”, “Sweet Darlin'”, and “I Was Made For You”.
A British Invasion band, The Zombies scored hits with songs like “Time of The Season” and “She’s Not There”. Their innovative sound, driven by keyboards and airy harmonies, crops up in the She & Him songs “Don’t Look Back” and “I Thought I Saw Your Face Today.” Pop music at its purest and finest, they have more fans today than they did in the 60’s, with new audiences discovering their underrated, melodic gems.
A lynchpin of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip in the late 1960s, the Neil Young and Stephen Stills-led Buffalo Springfield scored a top ten hit with “For What It’s Worth”. Fusing rock with country and folk long before The Eagles, the band broke up after just eighteen months but remains legendary. In particular, their distinctive guitar sound (coming from the highly skilled Young and Stills) has been a prime She & Him influence, and their Laurel Canyon breeziness impacted songs like “This is Not a Test” and “Sing”.