Explaining the meaning behind song «Zombie» — The Cranberries

«Zombie» — The Cranberries: explaining the meaning of the song and songfacts songs

What do zombies represent in today’s society? The word “zombie” originates from Haitian Creole and means “spirit of the dead.” In Haiti, zombies are associated with the Vodou religion, specifically the bokor. However, the meaning of Zombie has evolved over time, and it is now commonly used to describe someone who is brain-dead or mindless. So, what is the significance of Zombie in The Cranberries’ song “Zombie”? Let’s take a closer look.

Is an ideological struggle justified if it sacrifices civilians? In 1993, two explosions sounded in the Irish city of Warrington, and militants of the Irish Republican Army organized the attacks. As a result of the second incident, two boys, Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, were killed, and other people were injured.

The event rocked Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries. The group was on a tour of the UK, during which Dolores wrote the song Zombie and dedicated it to the dead guys.

Zombies she calls members of the IRA, through whose fault innocent people go to the next world.

The history of the creation of the song Zombie – The Cranberries

Dolores O’Riordan spoke about the origin and meaning of Zombie:

It was written during a tour of England a year and a half ago when there was a surge of difficulties in the relationship between Northern Ireland and London. It never got out of my head. For a while, thoughts of explosions, in general, gnawed at me, and I read articles about what was happening in Bosnia, about how women were being treated and, more painfully, children. Then there was an explosion in Warrington, and those boys were killed.

The IRA is not me. I’m not in the IRA. The Cranberries are not the IRA. As is my family. When the song says, “This is not me, this is not my family,” that’s what I mean. This is not Ireland; these are some idiots living in the past, living in dreams.

I don’t care if they are Protestants or Catholics, and I don’t care if it’s England or Ireland. By and large, I only care about innocent people’s suffering. That’s what inspired me to write the song. And I didn’t write a song about it because I’m Irish.

  • In an interview, O’Riordan said that Zombie is about “an Irish struggle for independence that seems to go on forever.” At the same time, all group members are unanimous in that this is “a song for peace, peace between England and Ireland.”

    Meaning of The Cranberries – Zombie

    Zombie is the most famous composition of the Irish group The Cranberries, familiar even to those who do not consider themselves a fan of Dolores O’Riordan’s work. Even without listening to the lyrics, it is easy to guess that the song is dedicated to some tragic event. I will tell you about the sad story that inspired Dolores to create this song in this article.

    The historical meaning of the song The Cranberries — Zombie

    The Zombie song is dedicated to the protracted armed confrontation between England and Ireland or one of its incidents – the terrorist attack in 1993 in the English city of Warrington. A bomb planted by militants of the Irish Republican Army exploded, and two children, Jonathan Ball and Tim Perry were among the dead. Dolores O’Riordan saw the mother of one of the dead boys, a heartbroken, unfortunate woman, on the news. It was then that the song Zombie was born. Dolores sings about the death of children and mothers’ broken hearts, perpetuating this and other tragedies in which innocent civilians suffered.

    It’s been the same old theme since 1916. This line refers to the historical events that preceded the attack. Ireland’s struggle for independence from Great Britain began in 1916 (Easter Rising). The country achieved independence three years later, but hostilities did not stop. It must be said that Dolores was touched by this incident, not at all because the Irish were involved in it. The singer said that she was not at all concerned about the political side of the event: she was outraged that someone dares to decide who lives and who dies; someone is trying to solve their problems by killing innocent people.

    The meaning of the central metaphor is zombies.

    The central image of the song is zombies. Dolores uses this word for all murderers and terrorists, not just members of the Irish Republican Army. According to the singer, these people are just as brainless; they obey an abstract idea or belief; they live in yesterday. They do not understand that their victims are the most ordinary people who have families and children. They are trying to achieve justice but do it with brutal methods. Therefore, they are zombies – living corpses-killers, blindly obeying the tenets of their beliefs.

    The meaning of the song The Cranberries – Zombie – is an attempt to look into the head of such a zombie killer. What’s in your head, Zombie? (“What’s on your mind, zombie?” Dolores asks. And then he answers his own question. It’s not me; it’s not my family in your head (“It’s not me, not my family in your head”) – the Zombie is unaware of who his victim is. In your head, they are fighting with their tanks and their bombs and their guns tanks” “guns” intensifies the atmosphere of destruction and murder. This is precisely what goes on in the minds of terrorists – continuous explosions and deaths of those they consider enemies.

    Finally, I will say a few words about the video. It uses actual footage from the military chronicle – the shooting of British soldiers in Ulster and moments from the life of local children. But the band members also wanted to express a more general idea in the video, not to tie it only to the struggle of Ireland and Great Britain. They did this with a series of shots of Dolores and young children. Dolores’s body is covered in gold, and the boys’ bodies are covered in silver, and the play of these precious colors symbolizes abstract beauty – something that many would like to see around. But shots from Ireland sharply contrast the gilded life – here it is, the real thing, what we don’t want to see. When violence causes silence, we must be mistaken (“If violence gives rise to silence, we seem to be mistaken”), sums up Dolores.

    The call of The Cranberries was heard. Shortly after the release of Zombie’s song, the Irish Republican Army announced a cessation of hostilities. Of course, it is unlikely that the militants were imbued with the lyrics of Dolores O’Riordan, but if at least one of those whom the singer called “zombies” changed his mind after hearing this song, it means that the world has become a little less evil.

    Interesting Facts

    • The line “It’s the same old theme since 1916” refers to the Easter Rising in 1916 with the goal of Irish independence.
    • Shortly after the song’s release, the IRA announced a cessation of hostilities, which became an occasion for all sorts of rumors.
    • The video for the song Zombie uses documentary footage of British soldiers patrolling.
    • Dolores Riordan states, “Ireland’s war of independence will go on forever, but ‘Zombie’ is a song for peace, peace between England and Ireland.” By the way, shortly after the song’s release, the IRA announced a cessation of hostilities, which became the reason for all sorts of rumors.
    • A video was filmed for the song “Zombies,” which uses footage of the firing of a British patrol in Northern Ireland. The unsuspecting soldiers were told that the footage would be included in a documentary about the operations of the peacekeeping (as well as policing) forces.
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