At the end of Robert Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies”, the protagonist, who has managed through gender re-assignment and time travel to be his own mother and father, seems trapped in his own narcissistic circle of causality. After he has completed his cycle of movement and ‘movements’, he speaks to an unnamed other of his loneliness, only to ask of the rest of the world “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?”
His zombies, it seems, are the agentless walking-living, that teeming mass of people who aren’t causes of their own existence, who look outward for will, meaning, and mission. Zombies, thus, are easy metaphors for the automatic behavior of human beings—the way we mindlessly consume ourselves and the world around us from the moment we’re born until we die. Not being a zombie is, on one hand, a losing battle against appetite and attrition. Not thinking about zombies? Something different altogether.
For the return of The Walking Dead, one of the few shows my brother and I both watch since the end of Breaking Bad, I lamely just re-posted something from a few years back. Part of this is because I was only lukewarm about the show’s return (I found last season disappointing) and partly because I feel that it is hard for anyone to make good TV after the end of Breaking Bad.(Homeland has fallen into nonsense. The last season of Game of Thrones was fragmented and incomplete. Sons of Anarchy is a satire of itself. Avengers is a bit awkward and rushed. Should I keep going? No.)
But I actually did sit down and watch the first few episodes of The Walking Dead and, mirabile visu!, the show seems to be returning to form as a narrative about survival. So, in honor of that, here are some songs with zombie in the title.
(Yeah, this isn’t an original idea. Others have beaten me to this. And they did it better. And I stole some tracks from them.)
“Zombie Song”, The Besties
I love this song about falling in love with a zombie. The lyrics are sweet; the harmonies are sweeter. Never heard of the Besties? That’s ok, I found them on public access TV in NYC.
“Zombie Prostitute,” Voltaire
Yeah, this song is mostly a lark. It seriously narrates having sex with a zombie girl. But I can’t believe it is only that—isn’t it a post-horror allegory about the loss of control that issues from lust, about the zombie-state incited by our appetites? The line “I had a stiffy for the stiff in front of me” is inspired juvenalia.
“Zombie”, The Cranberries
This isn’t about real zombies but it is about the zombie reality of having no will, no agency, and just mindlessly going through motions. There was a time in the 90s when I couldn’t go from home to school without hearing this song. True story, an Irish wife of a Turkish friend of mine (who is a known confabulist) claims that she got in a bar fight with Dolores O’Riordan in the early 1990s and kicked her ass. I choose to believe the story.
“Zombie Zoo,” Tom Petty
This song is also about lack of will and living like a zombie instead of really being one. Is it messed up that I can’t think of Tom Petty without thinking of Tom Cruise singing “Free Falling”? Is It?
“Zombie Jamboree”, The Kingston Trio
I don’t really know what to think of this? Goethe-based calypso music from Trinidad? I really don’t care what to think of this. This is absolutely great music.
“Zombies Ate Her Brain”, The Creepshow
This band is like a garage band version of No Doubt. The song is fun in a post-punk, quasi-surf-rock kind of way. It would be much cooler if it were a decade older.
“Living Dead Girl”, White Zombie
I don’t care if the band’s name and not the song name has zombie in it. This song creeps me the fuck out and always has. If I were dead, fear of Rob Zombie might raise me.
“Zombie Slide”, Insane Clown Posse
I am sure that my brother has some intelligent and insightful things to say about the Insane Clown Posse. All I know is that the “dead bodies dancing on the lawn” in this song must be inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Shit. Let’s just end this thing with “Thriller” as a palate cleanser.