“Zombie” is a protest song by Irish rock band The Cranberries, written about the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, and in memory of two young victims, Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry. It was released in September 1994 as the lead single from their second studio album, No Need to Argue (1994). It preceded the release of No Need to Argue by two weeks. The song was written by the band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and reached No. 1 on the charts in Australia, Belgium, France, Denmark, and Germany.
It won the “Best Song” award at the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards.
In 2017, the song was released as an acoustic, stripped down version on the band’s Something Else album.
The lyrics and chords of “Zombie” were written by Dolores O’Riordan during the Cranberries’ English Tour in 1993. The song was written in response to the death of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, who had been killed in the IRA bombing in Warrington earlier that year.
The lyrics also reference the Irish Easter Rising with the lines: It’s the same old theme / Since nineteen-sixteen / In your head, in your head, they’re still fightin’ / With their tanks, and their bombs / And their bombs, and their guns / In your head, in your head, they are dyin’.
The Rough Guide to Rock identified the album No Need to Argue as “more of the same” as the Cranberries’ debut album, except for the song “Zombie”, which had an “angry grunge” sound and “aggressive” lyrics. The Cranberries played the song on their appearance on the U.S. show Saturday Night Live in 1995 in a performance that British author Dave Thompson calls “one of the most powerful performances that the show has ever seen”.
AllMusic said the song “trivialized” the events of the Troubles, and that the “heavy rock trudge” of the song did not play to the band’s strengths.
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