"Zombieland" as written by and Stephen Bruton T Bone Burnett....
Accentuate the positive
Destroy all the negatives
Before the black mass media
Get a hold of them

Boy's been sniffing that frog powder
Drinking that genius juice
Shooting that monkey blood

We're gonna stomp in Zombieland
Devil beat in Zombieland
We're gonna stomp that devil beat
Down in Zombieland

Machines always do just what you tell them to do
As long as you do what they say
Machines gonna stomp
To that devil beat in Zombieland

Look at that boy can't see nothing
Can't hear nothing
Just put him over there
All the tides in Zombieland
Are to oblivion

Sniffing that frog powder
Blowing that Egyptian bone
Settling like a fog

Speaking hieroglyphics
With his pistol and his pills
Phantom conjured to a dark mojo
You want to know but you don't know
You want to know but you don't know


Lyrics submitted by ikefox

"Zombieland" as written by Turner Stephen Bruton T-bone Burnett

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Spirit Music Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Zombieland song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI am reminded of drugs when I listen to this song. It can be really hard trying to figure out meanings in songs by T- bone Burnett. My dad has been listening to him for forever, and he still doesn't know what most of his songs mean.
    so yeah. that's all I have to say.
    SunGreen777on March 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBefore I say anything relating to the meaning of this song, I just want to say that this song is perfect for cruising around on a cloudy day or night.

    Yeah, this song definitely is using drugs in the narrative in some form or fashion. I don't know how many of those names are actual pseudonyms for real drugs, if any of them are, but the fact that the listeners can immediately realize that T-Bone is talking about drug use is an observation of how many words we have for illegal, under-the-table substances like these. It's said that the Inuit have 100 words for different types of snow, so I think it's analogical that we have so many words for drugs and sex in America and the rest of the modernized, urban world.

    Back on track. Zombielands are, from what I've heard, places where teenagers go to hangout, smoke, drink, and makeout. Pretty much where the cool kids get high and stuff. Normally they're under bridges, in the woods, near a cemetery, or something like that. Essentially, it's where children go to do bad things.

    Since The True-False Identity is an album with a highly critical narrative of the Bush Administration, I'm going to try to tie my interpretation of the lyrics into that theme. It can also be viewed as a criticism of shady modern politics in general, whichever you prefer.

    The song starts by not only referencing the Harold Arlen song "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive", but by describing a cover up of some event gone wrong in an attempt to hide it from the public and the press. They seek to destroy the negatives of compromising photographs in order to hide the truth. What event this is referencing in particular is not clear, but it's likely either 9/11, Bush's military history, or the Abu-Ghraib prison torture scandal. This could just be about the government or big business trying to make everything seem well when it isn't, and hiding the truth from the public.

    The next stanza refers to someone who's been doing drugs. If we're still following the Bush analysis, this might be a reference to his days before the presidency, when he did cocaine. The more meaningful part of this stanza, however, is that he's been clouding his judgment and decisions on important matters through ignorance and constant support from his close cabinet of like-minded followers. If you are following the more general description, this can be about your average citizen clouding and ignoring the world around them, whether through actual drugs or other distractions.

    The chorus is tough to understand. The best I can think of is that it's talking of how we're going to "stay the course" and keep on the same tactics, essentially doing the same old dance even though it's the wrong thing to do. The zombieland referenced here is America or the developed world in general, which T-Bone is looking at as a place of hedonistic sin and apathy towards other parts of the world. Much like the teenagers in actual zombielands, all of the inhabitants are doing what they please and fulfilling their desires, too busy to notice that they're spelling out their own doom.

    The line about machines is about technology today, and how most of us don't understand the myriad of electronic devices that we depend on. Yes, they 'help' us, but only if we do everything they want us to do. Since we don't understand, we become imprisoned to these devices, forced to do their will as much as they are forced to do ours. Thus, they lead us further down the path of ignorance, to the devil beat. This is a distant aside from the bush narrative, but it fits well into the more general meaning of the song, the one which focuses on the modern world in general.

    The stanza about the boy can refer to Bush's unimportance in government and his status as a figurehead in the Bush Administration narrative. He's not making any decisions (or understanding what's going on around him), just drawing our eyes away from the real people in charge. Otherwise, it could be about the growing loss of knowledge amongst the public. The last line, though, is the same in both meanings: everyone will be clouded, confused, and destroyed eventually.

    The next stanza is simply the same as the second, with the added line about "settling like a fog", which adds to the sense of obfuscation of the truth.

    The final stanza means most in the Bush interpretation. He's speaking hieroglyphics, which means that he's either saying things from the past (repeating what we all know) or that he's speaking nonsense. His pistol is his power, military wise, and his pills are his ignorance, his knowledge as viewed through his bias. The phantom is the percieved threat overseas from Iraq, which is simply his personification of his fears and other threats since our illusion of security was shattered during 9/11. The last two lines hint at his search for an answer to these problems, which is in vain.
    The more general explanation would be that the subject of this stanza has realized that something's wrong, but he's too deluded to determine what.


    Ohkay, that only took a couple of hours of on and off writing. Whatever, it's over. Any other interpretations? Not that I expect any, since SunGreen777 is the only other person who's commented on ANY T-Bone song, but hey, I'd be happy to hear a response.
    Croove55on January 11, 2008   Link

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