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Zombie - The Cranberries

Updated on July 10, 2009

The song Zombie by the Cranberries sends a powerful message to the listener, even if you are completely unaware of the specific situation the song is referencing. It can be interpreted generally as a cry out against war, a plea for peace, and a startling illustration of the mental anguish resulting from living with continuous violence. The Cranberries took their music and their artistic expression to new heights with this powerful reminder of the effect to both the heart and mind of those engaged - willingly or not - in endless fighting.

In your head, in your head they are fighting,

With their tanks and their bombs

and their bombs and their guns.

In your head, in your head, they are crying…

from Zombie - The Cranberries

The song is, in a sense, written from a very personal experience of their countrymen and ancestors. All of the band members are natives of Limerick, Ireland. Zombie, by The Cranberries was directly inspired by the violence in Ireland both in the early 1990’s and throughout the past century.

Zombie The Cranberries - Album Stars: The Best of the Cranberries 1992-2002
Zombie The Cranberries - Album Stars: The Best of the Cranberries 1992-2002

There are many ways to interpret the song Zombie from The Cranberries, but the use of the term Zombie is usually thought to represent the mindlessness of the fighting. It has become second nature to the people of Ireland because for the people of Ireland, it has been going on for a lifetime. The image of the desensitized zombie is brought to mind through the lyrics, the blank faced onlooker, void of emotion when witnessing violence.

.Zombie is specifically about Ireland, but most people who listen to it feel that it could be about war anywhere.

“Another mother’s breakin’

Heart is taken over

When the violence causes silence

We must be mistaken”

Some feel that the entire song was directly inspired by a bombing in Warrington, Chesire that took place in 1993 when two innocent children Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, were killed. The song was written in memory of the boys.

“It’s the same old theme since 1916

In your head, in your head they’re still fighting”

In early 1916 the fighting and conflict in Northern Ireland ignited to new heights in the Easter Rising, when the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood, later became the IRA) in an effort to rebel against the current British rule captured several strategic points in Dublin. This lead to many casualties, the violence had begun and the war for independence was set in motion.

This is not the first time that an Irish band has captured the emotion and the tragedy of the fighting in Ireland, U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday was written in remembrance of the 13 human rights activists who were peacefully protesting  when they were shoot down by British Paratroops in January of  1972.

Zombie- The Cranberries (lyrics)

Zombie -The Cranberries Video

The official dramatic video for Zombie adds more symbolism to an already complex song. The Cross is a main theme throughout the video, referring to the Easter Rising of 1916, with lead sing Dolores O’Riordan along with young children painted gold. Additionally, it features authentic footage of British soldiers patrolling the streets of Northern Ireland.

The video to the right contains just the the music and the lyrics. It is an easy waay to listen to what they are saying without getting distracted by the symbolism in the official dramatic video. The official Zombie video can be viewed on youtube.

Zombie The Cranberries - From the original album No Need To Argue
Zombie The Cranberries - From the original album No Need To Argue

About The Cranberries

The alternative rock band The Cranberries were originally named the Cranberry Saw Us. The band was founded in 1990 by brothers Noel and Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler. Dolores O’Riordan is the band’s second lead vocalist. She was enthusiastically hired after presenting the group with the lyrics for Linger, which went on to be one of their most popular and well loved songs.

Zombie is one of the bands most successful songs, and was first released on the album No Need to Argue, which eventually went triple platinum. The song has been covered multiple times by a wide variety of bands. The sounds and guitar riff’s are heavier and stronger than the typical for The Cranberries

The band is currently on hiatus and members are taking the time off to pursue individual careers, and be with their families. There has been talk recently of the band reuniting at some point in the future.

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