Screenshot of a boy laying in the dirt, pretending to be wounded

The song Zombie by The Cranberries is, in my opinion, one of the most important songs of the 20th century, and there’s a strong case for the twenty first as well.

It’s a protest song inspired by the death of two little boys in England. Certain parts of the Irish community thought that they only way to get freedom from England was to kill as many English as possible. They placed a bomb, and Johnathan Ball, aged 3, and Tim Parry, aged 12, were killed in the attack. 56 people were injured. I’m already getting emotional just writing that.

Dolores O’Riordan was an Irish singer watching this happen, and it broke her heart, so she wrote the song Zombie.

The BBC banned the song, because they didn’t want to hear anything from those dirty Irish. That’s nearly as heartbreaking as the act itself.

The Original Video

Dolores is incomparable, and irreplaceable. People can mimic her, but no-one will ever be her.

The scenery from this video is soldiers walking amongst ruins, with children playing at being soldiers around them. This footage is not staged, it’s from a journalist who went to Northern Ireland to make a record of what was happening there. Please watch it.

A Reaction

The Fairy Godmother does a lot of a video reactions, mostly from an educational standpoint as a musician. But she and I share a lot of the same feelings. Watch this one too.

Leo Moracchioli

Leo makes metal covers of songs. He’s outrageously good at it, playing all the instruments, singing, and producing. His version of Zombie might be my favorite, because it’s the angriest. It’s loud, it’s hard, and it’s angry. Dolores was hurt. Leo is angry.

When I was in college I played bass guitar, and several times played this song. Every time we played it got louder and harder the longer we played. Bass is usually plucked, but I always ended up with a big fat pick, and i would hit the strings harder and harder, hammering on it, pounding on it, hitting the chords as hard as I possibly could, with the guitar and amp both turned up all the way. Screaming into the void.

The Bad Wolves Version

Bad Wolves was a metal band, and they wanted to remake the song with Dolores as the singer. The night before they were set to record she died.

The decided to go ahead with the song, having their lead singer sing it. But they added in the spirit of Dolores in such a special way. A woman covered in gold just like Dolores was in the original walks toward the band, and is stopped by a piece of glass. She puts her hand on it, and the singer puts his hands on the other side, and she spends the rest of the song covering the glass in gold until we can’t see her anymore, she’s gone.

Bad Wolves gave all the proceeds of the song to Dolores’ children.

The End

Leo’s version is my favorite because it matches my soul. I’m angry the way Jesus would be angry at justifying the killing of children.

That said, the agony in Dolores’ voice will forever pull at my heart. The agony of a mother, of an Irish person, of a human being.

And the respect paid by Bad Wolves is top notch. Seeing how they represented Dolores while she was gone is priceless.

Please watch the songs in the order shown above. Be angry about war.

One thought on “Zombie

  1. This post is EVERYTHING. Everything that is everything about music, about art and raw emotion, both personal and global. I’ve performed ‘Zombie’ on stage but I did not know its background at the time. I just thought that it was a generic anti-war song. I know now that there no ‘generic’ anti-war songs. They’re all deeply personal and speak of a real person somewhere who was bleeding.

    Leo’s version is so brilliant, it’s practically a different song. You recognise that distinction between sorrow and rage so well! And his craft shows in his making anger come alive but with a fine hand, exploding with noise and then reigning it in to show how much mastery he has. This is by far my favorite.

    I might have shrugged off the Bad Wolves version as just a rehash. We are living in times of recycled culture because it’s more profitable for the entertainment machine. But with the context you’ve shared, this song is elevated. And it feels like the right (if poignant) close to the story of Dolores. What excruciating poetry that she passed on the day she was to record this collaboration!

    Thank you for this sensitive post. It has been an exquisite experience.

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