90s | Pop Culture | Music

The True Story Behind The Cranberries's Hit Song 'Zombie'

Guillaume Souvant/AFP

Following the tragic passing of The Cranberries's lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan, 46, fans are coming together to mourn the talented musician.

As fans pay tribute to the Irish artist, media outlets are doing the same by revealing the meaning behind the popular 90s band's most popular songs.

According to BBC, The Cranberries's hit single, "Zombie" isn't about the undead, but rather about a devastating event that rocked Northern Ireland forever.

In March 1993, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed the Cheshire town of Warrington, resulting in two causalities and more than 40 injuries.

Three-year-old Johnathan Ball was killed when two bombs hidden in garbage bins detonated on a busy shopping street, while 12-year-old Tim Parry passed five days later.

"I remember seeing one of the mothers on television, just devastated," O'Riordan told Vox magazine in 1994.

"I felt so sad for her, that she'd carried him for nine months, been through all the morning sickness, the whole thing and some… prick, some airhead who thought he was making a point, did that," she added.

However, not everybody knew about the the song's hidden meaning.

Colin Parry only found out "Zombie" was inspired by his son after O'Riordan's death.

"I'm sorry to say I didn’t know about the song until yesterday when my wife told me," Parry told RTE’s Morning Ireland. "When I heard the song was about Warrington, I listened to it as carefully as I could to the words."

“I was very moved, certainly by the singing voice of Dolores and the song itself but it was the sentiment behind it that was particularly captivating," he said. "For an Irish band to sing about the tragedy of my son and Johnathan dying is obviously very poignant."

Parry also posted a tribute to O'Riordan on Twitter:

"I’m saddened to hear of the death of Dolores O’Riordan at just 46. Her wonderful band recorded a moving song after the Warrington bomb in memory of two innocent victims, Johnathan Ball and my son Tim. RIP Dolores."

O'Riordan once told NME that while music is often seen as a pleasure, it's important for musicians write their songs about subjects worth talking about.

"If you feel really strongly about something and it really annoys you, then other young people will think the same as you and something can be done about it," she said. "But first, you have to be aware."

While most of the songs were a collaborative effort, O'Riordan wrote the song by herself, and it became the most aggressive song in the band's second album, No Need To Argue album. It is also the Cranberries's biggest single to date.

Did you know the meaning behind "Zombie"?

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