C is for Cranberries

There's a lot of choice of artists beginning with "C" too with some obvious talents like Coldplay, Elvis Costello, the Cult and I was oh so tempted to go with the Cure, the soundtrack to the closest I got to teenage rebellion. I often wonder if Phil Collins realizes how much of his mediocre stuff is regurgitated on American radio stations.

I went with the Cranberries not because I was overwhelmed by them and purely because of Zombie. Linger and Dreams were catchy but not quite sublime. But Zombie was something else altogether.

Quite possibly you may have had to grow up in Britain to tap into the powerful mood of Zombie. For as long as I can remember the TV carried scenes of the funerals of soldiers and small boys with faces of 52-year-old men, the muddy puddles and the dilapidated back-to-back homes on the Falls Road, the threatening murals on bleak walls, the men with guns, the marches, the Maze, the hunger strikes and slowly but surely Ulster would eat into our souls.

It wasn't quite war but it certainly wasn't peace. And the Troubles were disconcerting because the road signs and the homes looked just like the ones on our street. Just the worse for wear.

When I first heard Zombie it blew me away because it captured the feel of Northern Ireland so well, down to the real footage of the British soldiers who didn't know they were being filmed, patrolling a conflict they didn't understand.

If there was no war there could be no winners. But with such hatred across the religious divide there could be no peace.

Mr T was a hapless history teacher. He sent us away to create a project on Northern Ireland. He didn't expect anyone to turn it in. He certainly didn't expect my graphic drawing of a victim being tarred and feathered. At least he wasn't being knee capped. That came later.

It wasn't very eloquent but it's hard to sum up the Troubles in Ireland without going back to King Henry VIII in the 16th century or the Easter Rising - "It's the same old theme since 1916."

By the time I first visited Northern Ireland in 1999 the Troubles were on the wane and it was hard to imagine sectarian violence on the wind swept cliffs of Antrim. But now and again you would drive through a staunchly Unionist village to see the curb stones painted red, white and blue and the red hand of Ulster raised aloft on signs as high as the wire around the police station.

Two years later airliners crashed into the Twin Towers and suddenly all the support from across the Atlantic for the "freedom fighters"of the IRA started to dry up as we saw terrorism for what it really was. Mud and blood, slogans of hate on walls, burnt out houses and hollow eyed people hardened to violence. Zombies to the last man and woman manning the barricades.

CURIOUS FACT ABOUT THE CRANBERRIES - In 2009 Cranberries lead singer Dolores O' Riordan became an Honorary Patron of University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin)


  1. I had a Cranberries CD b/c one of their songs was used in a commercial that I liked, but I think the ex got it in the divorce. lol

  2. I had a feeling this would be your choice.. no reason just a hint. Are you sticking with British [UK] bands. I have some suggestions for O,S,R... lol

  3. Powerful song and equally powerful post, David. :)

  4. Dave, you are absolutely right about having to have been growing up in the UK to fully understand the song.

    Can I just say that in 1994, I was a sophomore in high school and this band was one of the few that helped to bring awareness to people like me and my friends?

  5. wow! lots of political undertones we cowboys werent aware of.
    still loved their music!

  6. Oh, dear God, I thought at first cranberries were, er, you know, that, ahem, red berry. *blushes cranberry red* So, er, hmmm, guess I've gotta get on the right planet.

  7. Blogger woes -- not sure my comment took. Will check back later.

  8. This is a great post. When I first heard the song Zombie, I assumed it was about the dreadful violence in Ireland. But I only knew this because in 1995, Seventeen Magazine had a feature story about two Irish teen lovers (one from the south and one from the north) who were forbidden to see each other. It resulted in them being so in love and so heartbroken that they committed suicide together by jumping off a bridge. I had not read Romeo & Juliet yet (I was 11) so this story made a big impression on me.

    It's really sad how a country that should be standing united can experience so much hate and misery.

    I also remember reading a news article (NYT?) a decade ago about some of the more violent men throwing heavy rocks at little Catholic school girls (five years old) as they walked into school. It made me very sad.

  9. PS. I find it odd that there are Americans who still have not heard of the violence in Ireland. It's been the subject of many famous films, television show episodes (like Law & Order even) and news articles.

  10. Yes they are kinda cool Scots Lass. You may have to renegotiate the divorce settlement Jo Jo. Suggest away Vodka, No. I did Elvis. Fraid I am behind on comments

  11. Thanks Jayne, glad they helped Mollie.

  12. I think a lot of their stuff had less undertones Tara. ha, Kitie - no worries; the comments stuck.

  13. Appreciate your comments as always Jen. Hmm - not heard of that although have heard about the same kind of idea in the Israeli - Palestinian context

  14. OMG - The Cranberries.

    Again - I listen to Zombie all the time. Rotation again.

    That song gets me every time.


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