The Cranberries' "Zombie" Lyrics Meaning - Song Meanings and Facts (2023)

“Zombie” is a song performed by the Irish rock band The Cranberries. This song is widely considered to be one of the most famous protest songs of all time. It’s lyrics are primarily about the infamous Warrington bombings and the innocent victims it left behind.

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The bombings, which took place on 26th February and 20th March, 1993 in Warrington, England, claimed the lives of two children (Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball) and left as many as 56 people injured.

The militant group the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was responsible for planning and carrying out these horrific bombings.

Meaning of “Zombie” Lyrics

Like was said above, the Cranberries came out with this song in memory of two individuals, Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry. The former was 3-years old and the latter 12 whentheir lives were takenvia a bomb the IRA planted in England.

Thus the song begins when the band referencing a “child” being “slowly taken”.In this particular case, they may be speaking specifically of Tim. Tim didn’t die immediately but was taken off of life support about a month after the incident.

Pre Chorus

The singer starts off the pre-chorus by exclaiming that “it’s not me; it’s not my family”. The idea these statements are actually meant to point to is that despite the fact that The Cranberries are from Ireland, they do not support the actions of the IRA.And the rest of the passage seems to buttress the notion that the “fighting” the IRA is engaged in is based on their own group ideologies, not those of the Irish masses.

Chorus

And that brings us to the chorus, where the title of the song comes into play.The metaphor which prevails throughout, as you’ve probably already guessed, is that The Cranberries are exclaiming that the people who engage in activities like the aforementioned bombings are indeed ‘zombies’.Or stated otherwise, they are behaving mindlessly in the pursuit of their goals.And of course referring to someone as a “zombie” is in fact a diss and is reflective of the band’s disdain towards the IRA.

The Cranberries' "Zombie" Lyrics Meaning - Song Meanings and Facts (1)

Second Verse

And given the nature of the second verse, which once again speaks to innocent children being killed, we can easily deduce what is at the source of the band’s anger.And that is lives have been lost, in the name of Ireland if you will, as the result of an ultimately senseless, indeed even terrorist act.

Second Pre-Chorus

And in the second pre-chorus, they reference that this beef between the IRA and the UK has been going on “since 1916”.But once again, the band states that this ongoing conflict is more ‘in the heads’ of the IRA as opposed to being something that’s going on in real life, so to speak.Or another way of looking at it is that once again the masses of Irish people do not actually support the actions of the IRA, even though said organization is supposedly fighting in the name of all Irish people.

In Conclusion

So conclusively, “Zombie” has been classified asa protest song.But perhaps a more accurate way of describing it is as a diss song.And why? Because given its background, it is clear that the band is taking a stance against the IRA. And in doing so, they are unflatteringly referring to the members of this organization as ‘zombies’.

Facts about “Zombie”

“Zombie” was written by Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of The Cranberries. O’Riordan died unexpectedly at the age of 46 on January 15, 2018.

The production of “Zombie” was handled by renowned English music producer Stephen Street. In addition to being noted for his work with The Cranberries, Street is also known for working with famous British bands such as The Smiths and Blur.

The song was released on September 19th, 1994. It was the first single from the band’s second studio album. That album was titled “No Need to Argue“.

The Cranberries' "Zombie" Lyrics Meaning - Song Meanings and Facts (2)
(Video) The Cranberries The Sad Story Behind 'Zombie'

The band performed the song at the 1994 Woodstock music festival about a month before its official release.

According to O’Riordan, she wrote the song’s lyrics as well as its chords while the band was touring England in 1993.

The song reached the number 1 spot on the charts in many countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, France and Germany. In the United States, the song peaked at number 22 on the Hot 100 Airplay (Radio Songs) and number 14 on the UK Singles Chart.

Since “Zombie” wasn’t released as a single in the United States, it was not legible to enter the US Billboard Hot 100. The band’s record label deliberately decided not to release the song as a single in the United States for the sole purpose of increasing album sales there. The album (No Need to Argue) went on to sell over 7 million albums in the United States alone, making it one of the most successful albums ever.

Did “Zombie” win a Grammy Award?

No, it didn’t. However, at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 1995, the song was the recipient of an MTV award in the “Best Song” category.

Did Eminem sample “Zombie”?

Yes, he did. Eminem sampled this song on his 2017 song titled “In Your Head”, which was included in his ninth studio album titled Revival which came out in 2017.

In addition to Em, several other artists have sampled “Zombie”. In his 2011 song titled “In Your Head”, Mohombi also sampled this Cranberries classic. Singer Colbie Caillat also sampled it in her 2007 track “Feelings Show”.

Bad Wolves’ cover of “Zombie”

The original version of this song, as rendered by an Irish group known as The Cranberries,was inspired byan incident in 1993 whereas a couple of children ended up being killed by Irish Republic Army extremists.That is to say that the lyrics are founded in a longstanding beef between England and Ireland.

But Bad Wolves are a crew from L.A., far removed from Western Europe.And their take on the song, though fundamentally the same in sentiment, centers on a more macrocosmic approach.

For instance,one of most-notable lyrical changesbetween the original and their rendition is that a line pointing directly to the feud between Ireland and Britain was rather changed to have a global outlook.Or stated differently, The Cranberries focused on hostilities between two particular entities.But Bad Wolves are pointing to warfare in general, and how such tends to devastate those directly affected. (A move which, by the way, Cranberries’ frontwoman Dolores O’Riordandefinitely approved of.)

So yes, the original and the cover may share the same first verse for instance.But the point is that whether we’re talking about Ireland versus England or any two warring parties, a child dying as a result of the associated violence is still a bothersome, even shameful, event.

And this assertion is buttressed in the second verse, where the listener is introduced to the mother of one of such children who subsequently and understandably is suffering from a broken heart.

Who are these “Zombies”?

Meanwhile whereasthere are various theoriesof whom the titular “zombies” may refer to, the most widely-accepted notion is that the term alludes to those who are actually doing the killing. They are the supporters and initiators of the bloodshed.

Indeed going back to the original version of the song, part of the reason O’Riordan wrote it was to point out that even though she was in fact Irish, she did not support the actions of the IRA.Or as she put it in her own words, she deemed them as“idiots living in the past”.

So it is logical to conclude that the less-than-flattering classification which this song is named after would be applied to such individuals.Or put differently, whereas“Zombie”may have been a“song for peace”in the hands of The Cranberries, it becomes more like an actual anti-war song in the hands of the Bad Wolves.

So if nothing else, we can see that they are not too fond of those who use ‘their tanks and bombs and guns and drones’to carry out their ambitions.For doing so results in the loss of innocent lives, even the most-innocent of all, which are children.

Summary

All in all, Bad Wolves take a tune originally speaking to a particular beef and transform it into more of a general anti-war song.

(Video) The Cranberries - Zombie (Meaning)

Facts about Bad Wolves’ “Zombie”

This is a song that was originally released by The Cranberries in 1994.In fact the original writer ofZombiewas the former frontwoman of that crew, the late Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018).

Bad Wolves’ version was also co-written by Philip Naslund, who was a member of the group at the time. He slightly altered the lyrics.And their cover was produced by Kane Churko.

Said cover served as the second single from Bad Wolves’ maiden album,“Disobey”(2017).And the song was officially issued as such by Eleven Seven Music and Better Noise Music on 19 January 2018.

At first Bad Wolves werehesitant to cover this song, considering it, in the words of Tommy Vext, as ‘sacred art’.

However, doing so proved to be a wise decision. And why? It went to become the band’s most-successful single as far as the first few years of their existence (i.e. from 2018 to 2020) is concerned.For example, the track has been certified platinum in both the United States and Canada.

It also topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.But concerning their hesitancy in tackling it, it should be noted that the tune waseven a much-bigger hitfor The Cranberries.

And just to note, Miley Cyrus also achieved a little bit of chart successcovering this songin 2020.

Bad Wolves sought the Permission of O’Riordan to cover this Classic

Before releasing their cover, Bad Wolves sought the approval of Dolores O’Riordan herself.Andas the story goes,not only did she deem their rendition “f—ing awesome” but also intended to participate on it vocally, which Tommy Vext described as “a dream come true”.

However, such never came to pass, as she passed away on the very day she intended to record said vocals, which was on 15 January 2018.In fact the very last message she left while alive waspartially in admirationof the Bad Wolves’ cover.

And you may have also noticed that their version came out just a few days after her passing.

Moreover, the Bad Wolves went on todonate the proceeds of the singleto the late singer’s children, of whichshe had three.

6 Responses

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  1. Nick says:

    June 16, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    (Video) The Cranberries - Zombie (Lyric Video)

    I’m convinced that though the above is a plausible interpretation the song is broader than that. Zombies are more likely and people who feel untouched by violence and justify their own dismissiveness of horror with “But you seen it’s not me it’s not my family.” Just a thought. As one who has witnessed first hand the horrors of two IRA bombings in London, surely I know the Ira is not known for their use of tanks. Just sayin.’ Peace be with us all.

    Reply

  2. Anonymous says:

    October 7, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    I’m from Belfast and it’s more to do with the violence that the British brought upon the Irish people. They were defending their freedom and civil rights, they weren’t even allowed to work without discrimination. That is the simple fact.

    Reply

  3. Sarah T says:

    May 27, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    I remember the interview when she very briefly talked about the horror and insanity of those who blindly felt their ’cause’ was justification to murder, and yes it was about the delusional zombie state of the IRA and supporters mindset. She was very clear that they didnt represent the ordinary irish person. I remember listening to the lyrics properly after that and thinking what a brave lady for speaking out.

    Reply

    (Video) Cranberries Zombie ( lyrics )

FAQs

What is the meaning behind cranberries Zombie song? ›

The song was written in response to the death of Johnathan Ball, 3, and Tim Parry, 12, who had been killed in the IRA bombing in Warrington, northwest England, when two devices hidden in litter bins were detonated.

Whats in your head meaning? ›

What Does It Mean to Be In Your Head? (A Definition) To be in your head usually means overthinking or overanalyzing a situation or behavior, constantly dwelling on the same thing over and over until your mind feels super cluttered. Sometimes, we all get stuck in our heads, but some of us do so more than others.

What is the mood of the song Zombie? ›

The song feels heavy, dark and the themes of the song, which are war, violence are in coherence with the elements of the song. The use of the instruments: guitar, bass and drums and the accompanying singer form the overall sounds of the song.

What is the meaning of the song she's not there by the zombies? ›

The group signed to Decca Records, and their keyboard player Rod Argent came up with this song for the session. It tells the story of an alluring woman who won't be tied down to one man - the singer wants to tell us all about her, but he can only use words, since she's not there. This was The Zombies first single.

How can I get off my mind? ›

9 Ways to Get out of Your Head
  1. Meditate. ...
  2. Try an intense workout. ...
  3. Pay more attention to the outside world. ...
  4. Focus entirely on your breathing. ...
  5. Watch an entertaining TV series. ...
  6. Don't fight your thoughts. ...
  7. Regularly write down your troubling thoughts. ...
  8. Live in the present moment.

How do I stop living in my head? ›

  1. Get ready to “go there” This sounds like a way to do exactly the opposite of getting out of your head, but it's not. ...
  2. Be a storyteller, not an ruminator. ...
  3. Talk to a stranger. ...
  4. Deactivate the “Me Centers” of your brain by meditating. ...
  5. Focus on someone else. ...
  6. Learn what mindfulness really is.
19 Aug 2014

What is it called when you live in your head? ›

Depersonalization-derealization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you're observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren't real, or both.

How do you survive a zombie apocalypse? ›

12 tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse
  1. Separate friends from foes. You can't survive an apocalypse alone. ...
  2. Set up a base. ...
  3. Make hunting for supplies a priority. ...
  4. Don't drink the water. ...
  5. Pull your weight. ...
  6. Eliminate the weakest link. ...
  7. Find the perfect zombie-fighting ensemble. ...
  8. Just because you have shelter doesn't mean you're safe.

Who was the first sung zombie? ›

Dolores O'Riordan died the day before re-recording the band's classic 1994 hit - but why was the song so important? The death of The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan aged 46 shocked the world.

Are Cranberries anti IRA? ›

Following an IRA attack that resulted in the death of two children, The Cranberries wrote 'Zombie' to speak out against violence and pose one question to extremists: “What's in your head?”

What is the message of zombies? ›

Right from the start the ZOMBIES theme has been accepting others for who they are on the inside, not what they look like on the outside. The movies have taught children (and adults) to not judge a book by the cover, and to include those who are different.

What is the zombie metaphor? ›

For 80 years, the undead have been used by filmmakers and writers as a metaphor for much deeper fears: racial sublimation, atomic destruction, communism, mass contagion, globalism — and, more than anything, each other.

What is the theme of all zombies? ›

First published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, the classic science fiction short story “All You Zombies—” (1959) explores an unusual paradox involving transsexual time travel: What if you undergo sexual reassignment surgery, go back in time, have an affair with your younger self, and become your own parent?

Where did the group the zombies come from? ›

The Zombies are an English rock band formed in the early 1960s in St Albans and led by keyboardist and vocalist Rod Argent and vocalist Colin Blunstone.

Who was in zombies? ›

Zombies (2018 film)
Zombies
StarringMilo Manheim Meg Donnelly Trevor Tordjman Kylee Russell Carla Jeffery James Godfrey
ComposerGeorge S. Clinton
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
19 more rows

How do you block someone from your mind? ›

Here are 14 tips for how to stop thinking about someone:
  1. Don't Make Contact. Many times, people want to “remain friends” after a breakup. ...
  2. Stop Looking at Their Social Media. ...
  3. Turn to Your Support System. ...
  4. Focus on Self-Acceptance. ...
  5. Love Yourself. ...
  6. Allow Yourself to the Pain You Feel. ...
  7. Be Yourself. ...
  8. Practice Mindfulness.
18 Mar 2022

Why can't I get him out of my head? ›

A particularly potent reason why you might be unable to get them out of your head is because they remind you too much of who you are, or who you have been. Maybe you care for them and you just can't stop thinking about how they're repeating your mistakes.

How do you make someone think about you? ›

So here are some of the best ways, according to experts.
  1. Talk To A Mutual Friend About Them. ...
  2. Always Leave Your Last Conversation On A Positive Note. ...
  3. Keep Them Laughing Even When You're Apart. ...
  4. Hide Secret Notes For Them To Find. ...
  5. Do Something Thoughtful For Them. ...
  6. Use Scent To Trigger Memories.
23 Feb 2018

How do you get a girl out of your head? ›

How to get someone out of your head
  1. Less said, more time. ...
  2. Wait and see what happens next. ...
  3. Move away from the blame game. ...
  4. Try not to fall into other people's states of mind. ...
  5. Deal with your biggest problem first. ...
  6. When you're angry, it wrinkles the mind. ...
  7. Don't try to figure others out. ...
  8. Your thoughts are not facts.
26 May 2014

Why do I overthink so much? ›

Overthinking can be an early indicator or symptom of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. To stop overthinking, you can try challenging your thoughts, reaching out for support from loved ones, or finding a mental healthcare professional for extra help.

What overthinking does to your brain? ›

"Overthinking can affect how you experience and engage with the world around you — preventing you from making important decisions, keeping you from enjoying the present moment and draining you of the energy you need to handle daily stressors," explains Dr.

What is it called when you can hear yourself in your head? ›

Internal monologue means more than just pondering over your own thoughts. It consists of inner speech, where you can “hear” your own voice play out phrases and conversations in your mind. This is a completely natural phenomenon. Some people might experience it more than others.

Why do I imagine scenarios in my head and cry? ›

People may learn the habit of catastrophising because they've had a bad experience before that they didn't see coming. To protect themselves in the future, they start imagining the worst possible scenarios in every situation, because they don't want to be caught off-guard again.

Why do I make up fake scenarios in my head? ›

Dawn Baxter, certified positive psychology coach, says this is likely. She says creating fake scenarios can bring us comfort and make us feel more prepared to face the real world. 'In order for us to feel prepared for any eventuality we can sometimes “fantasise” about things that have not happened yet,' says Dawn.

What destroys a zombie? ›

Destroying the brain

Nearly all zombie survivalists are in agreement that the destruction of the brain is the only surefire way to neutralize the zombie (though a few rare types of zombies require complete dismemberment).

Do zombies poop Walking dead? ›

A zombie's digestive tract is completely dormant. The complex system that processes food, extracts nutrition, and excretes waste does not factor into a zombie's physiology.

How far can a zombie fall before dying? ›

Skeletons, zombies, and creepers all have 20 points of health, and need a fall of 22 blocks.

What was the first virus zombie movie? ›

Instead, the distinction of being the first zombie movie is usually awarded to Victor Halperin's 1932 opus, White Zombie. Starring Bela Lugosi, this film defined the basic parameters of 'zombieness' which would be in place prior to Romero's appearance on the scene.

What was the first zombie comedy? ›

An American Werewolf in London (1981) and the Return of the Living Dead series (1985) (especially the first two and the last of the series) can be considered some of the earliest examples of zombie-comedy using the modern zombie.

What does the IRA fight for? ›

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Organisations by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic free from British rule.

What did the IRA want? ›

The Official Irish Republican Army or Official IRA (OIRA; Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann) was an Irish republican paramilitary group whose goal was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and create a "workers' republic" encompassing all of Ireland.

Is IRA still a thing? ›

Several splinter groups have been formed as a result of splits within the IRA, including the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, both of which are still active in the dissident Irish republican campaign.

Is zombies about PTSD? ›

Zombie - The song - A veteran's spouse's take on the PTSD they suffer.

Is zombies appropriate for 7 year olds? ›

With little to no violence, sound messages of acceptance, and catchy songs and dances, I would recommend Zombies 2 for ages 6 and up.

What is the meaning of zombies dream? ›

Basically, dreaming about zombies in any way means that you're probably feeling overwhelmed about something, whether it's a major life change, a lot of stress, or some sort of bad habit you're trying to get rid of. When you think about the fear zombies can give us, this all definitely make sense.

What do you call a half zombie half human? ›

Instead of turning into a zombie himself, he becomes something else altogether. The other students call such victims “hambies”—half human, half zombie.

Is there a zombie Emoji? ›

Zombie was approved as part of Unicode 10.0 in 2017 and added to Emoji 5.0 in 2017.

What is the angry zombie? ›

The Angry Zombie is a mob introduced in Thaumcraft 3. Angry Zombies have red eyes and a different forehead texture to distinguish them from regular zombies. They have more health, and are slightly faster and stronger than regular zombies, making them more dangerous. When killed, they often drop Zombie Brains.

Why are we obsessed with zombies? ›

Zombies represent a longing to reconnect with humanity.

In zombie apocalypse stories, people are generally more likely to survive if they seek power in numbers. It's easier to fight off a herd of the walking dead if you have a dozen people by your side.

Does zombies have a heart? ›

Characteristics. In zombie movies, zombies are almost always: Mobile (able to move) but technically dead, without a heartbeat or other vital signs.

Do something in your head meaning? ›

to make someone feel confused or unhappy: Getting up at four o'clock every morning was doing my head in. I've been trying to make sense of all these figures and it's doing my head in. Puzzle and confuse.

Where's your head meaning? ›

Where's your head at?: What on earth are you thinking about? idiom.

What does mean cold feet? ›

Definition of cold feet

: apprehension or doubt strong enough to prevent a planned course of action.

What does beans on toast mean? ›

Beans-on-toast definition

A dish consisting of baked beans served in their sauce on toast . noun. 1.

What does it mean to go blank? ›

Definition of go blank

1 : to suddenly stop showing letters, images, etc. The screen on my computer went blank. 2 : to be unable to recall or think of something My mind went blank when I heard the question.

What does holding your head down mean? ›

to try to avoid trouble or involvement in a difficult or dangerous situation by behaving in a quiet way, so that people will not notice you. After unity, he had little time for Christian Democrats who had kept their heads down under the old regime. to continue to concentrate and work hard at something.

What does right in the head mean? ›

Mentally unwell or unstable. The term can be used both literally and hyperbolically. Tim has been behaving very erratically lately—I'm afraid that accident has left him not quite right in the head. Liz isn't right in the head if she thinks that plan will work!

What does holding my head mean? ›

Definition of hold up one's head

: to be proud : to not feel ashamed Even though they lost the game, they can still hold up their heads because they tried their best.

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