Zombie - the Cranberries
There are many, many great anti-war songs, but none conveys more feeling of grief, desperation and anger than the Cranberries' "Zombie" and it is these qualities, along with a great tune and a terrific, passionate vocal from lead singer and songwriter Dolores O'Riordan which have made it, to me, the greatest anti-war anthem of all time.
O'Riordan came from Limerick in the Irish republic, so it was a major statement when she wrote a song in response to the 1993 Warrington town centre bombings by the provisional IRA in which two schoolboys, out to buy Mother's Day cards, were killed.
As daily more news of the bombing of civilians in the Ukraine unfolds, as well as news of the killing of non combatant men, women and children, the anger and passion becomes more and more urgent and relevant. Now, nearly thirty years later, the song transcends its original context to become a universal condemnation of war and the idea that soldiers become zombies, unthinking, non sentient beings, and therefore able to kill and commit atrocities, sadly resonates clearly across the decades.
Another head hangs lowly child is slowly taken and the violence caused such silence. Who are we mistaken?
But you see, it's not me, it's not my family 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
In your head, in your head zombie, zombie, zombie! What's in your head, in your head zombie, zombie, zombie?
Another mother's breaking heart is taking over when the violence causes silence we must be mistaken -
it's the same old theme, since nineteen-sixteen in your head, in your head, they're still fighting with their tanks, and their bombs and their bombs, and their guns in your head, in your head, they are dying,
in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zombie what's in your head, in your head zombie, zombie, zombie?
The song reflects the anger and frustration of the young for the old carrying on with war when the obvious option is peace. O'Riordan was criticised for being "political", but what's political about wanting peace? In all the films I've seen of the Cranberries performing this song live, the audience has always been young, and they've always sung along, passionately. Somehow, I can't imagine them playing it to an "older" audience. The image just doesn't work.
The song reached number one in Austria, France and Germany but, perhaps significantly, not in Ireland (no 3) or the UK (no 14), and it entirely failed to chart in the US or Russia. Perhaps it was too close to home, too near the bone.