All down the street they're standin' in line
with white lipstick and one thing on their mind
Hey little freak with the lunch pail purse
underneath the paint you're just a little girl

Dancin' at the Zombie Zoo, dancin' at the Zombie Zoo
Painted in a corner and all you wanna do
is dance down at the Zombie Zoo

Cute little dropout, how come you pack a rod
is your mother in a clinic? has your father got no job?
Sometimes you're so impulsive,
you shaved off all your hair
you look like Boris Karloff and you don't even care

You're dancin' at the Zombie Zoo
dancin' at the Zombie Zoo
painted in a corner and all you wanna do is dance down at the
Zombie Zoo

She disappears at sunrise, I wonder where
she goes until
the night comes fallin' down again she shows
up with her friends half-alive

You can make a big impression or
go through life unseen
you might wind up restricted and over seventeen
it's so hard to be careful, so easy to be led
Somewhere beyond the pavement
you'll find the living dead

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Zombie Zoo song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +3

    I remember the zombie zoo club, they did not serve drinks and would stay open until sunrise it really wasn't a punk club but punk used to go there to hang out, after the other places closed. i remember they had a bunch of old 70s type B?W tvs stacked in a room and they would play movies like nosferatu, while the house music played. I remember seeing ADS (another destructive system) there, so they did have some punk bands play some times.

    Don't remember seeing a lot of punk girls, would have been pretty cool at 3am if I had.

    Seem to remember some death rock guys in dresses fighting with the death rock girls for mirror space to put on make up. That was always good for a laugh.

    Seem to remember it was in the LA brea area, could be wrong.

    webpunk69on June 24, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    No Its Not about a hooker ,nor is it about a Stripper( but if u didnt know about it,then its easy to see why u could have thought it) ZOMBIE ZOO was actualy one of the very very first Underground Death Rock Clubs in Los Angeles back in 88-89 ...I look forward to hearing this song asI dig Petty, and know half the people to ever step into Zombie Zoo

    MAESTRO4XSon June 11, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I thought it was about a girl who dresses weird because it is part of a sub-culture that Tom Petty was making fun of (like early emo in the eighties).

    KillViacomon July 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Zombie Zoo is not about a stripper or prostitute or something symbolizing a deeper meaning. It is about the young gaudy punk wanna-bes that hung out in the now defunct Los Angeles nightclub named the Zombie Zoo. It appeared to Tom Petty that these young girls were wasting their life, living a fast but useless life.

    SomedayNeveron June 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this song is about a party animal girl. "she shows up with her friends half-alive" as shanshanshabang said this girl wont stop partying. Maybe one day i will know how it feels.

    GitBuckon May 28, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Zombie Zoo was one of those storefront "dance clubs" trendy in the mid-to-late 80s, populated by lost-looking mascara boys and girls. At the time of Full Moon Fever I took it to possibly refer to Petty's own daughter going to the club and Tom's dad-like ambivalance over it. His oldest would have been the right age for ZZ. Just a guess

    misstressTon October 09, 2017   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    Yes, Zombie Zoo was a "Deathrock" club in Los Angeles in the 80's ("goth" used to be called "deathrock"). There was a restaraunt nextdoor to the club called Ships (it was kind-of like a Dennys). The patrons of the club used to hang-out there and eat. One night Tom Petty and Roy Orbison stopped in for a late night dinner after a recording session and met some of the club kids, and wrote a song about them.

    Zombie Zoo had many locations. The location that Tom saw was at "the Facade" on LaBrea. Zombie Zoo was also at Osko's downstairs in "the Cave", a room that was made to look like a cave. It was also at a dance hall called "La Casa" in downtown. it's first location was on Washington in a rather bad part of town (this is the locaztion that had the stack of TV's the played random things on each screen).

    Yes, we did book punkrock bands, as there weren't really enough "deathrock" bands around yet.

    Tom petty is a bastard. He wrote the song about my club. I called his managment to request a couple of tix to his concert. I was told "Tom said no". What a @#*&$%@!

    mikehellon August 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This was posted on youtube but it's Tom's own words about Zombie Zoo.

    "Yeah (Zombie Zoo was named from a Mohawked Pink in a diner). It was from when Jeff and George and I went out to Anaheim to ask Roy Orbison to be in the (Traveling Wilbury's). We were working on Full Moon Fever at the time. We were writing everything we saw. One line I remember we saw on a billboard was, 'Every day is judgement day.' That later turned up in End Of The Line, the Wilbury's song. We stopped at a (Denny's) restaurant on the way back, and these punky-looking guys recognized us and came over. And I said, 'Where have you been? What are you playing?', and they said, 'The Zombie Zoo' and out came the pads! (Laughs). It's a very light-hearted song. Nonsense, really. There's no great statement. It was just for the fun of it. I kind of wondered about Zombie Zoo really. I don't think I would have had it on if Jeff hadn't really campaigned for it. I would have cut it out. But there it is."

    • Tom Petty. November 1, 2005 from Conversations with Tom Petty.
    djstevemon August 22, 2021   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I thought it was about somebody who is acting all weird just for the sake of being weird. One of those people who would stop breathing if they could, just because that's what everybody else is doing.

    Nick the Bastardon July 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    When I listen to this song I think of a "punk rawk" girl. Really eager to be completely comfortable and decided in who she is and what she wants out of life. That is a contemporary pop-culture lens to view this song through.

    But now that I think of it, a hooker is a likely candidate.

    Lukasa101on July 06, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Bee Gees
@[Diderik:33655] "Your a holiday!" Was a popular term used in the 50s/60s to compliment someone on their all around. For example, not only are they beautiful, but they are fun and kind too ... just an all around "holiday". I think your first comment is closer to being accurate. The singer/song writers state "Millions of eyes can see, yet why am i so blind!? When the someone else is me, its unkind its unkind". I believe hes referring to the girl toying with him and using him. He wants something deeper with her, thats why he allows himself to be as a puppet (even though for her fun and games) as long as it makes her happy. But he knows deep down that she doesnt really want to be serious with him and thats what makes him.
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."
Album art
Gentle Hour
Yo La Tengo
This song was originally written by a guy called Peter Gutteridge. He was one of the founders of the "Dunedin Sound" a musical scene in the south of New Zealand in the early 80s. From there it was covered by "The Clean" one of the early bands of that scene (he had originally been a member of in it's early days, writing a couple of their best early songs). The Dunedin sound, and the Clean became popular on american college radio in the mid to late 80s. I guess Yo La Tengo heard that version. Great version of a great song,
Album art
When We Were Young
This is a sequel to 2001's "Reckless Abandon", and features the band looking back on their clumsy youth fondly.
Album art
Another Love
Tom Odell
I think the meaning is pretty clear. This person got really burned in a previous relationship, and because of this is unable to love and show care in his present one, even though he so badly wants to. It's lovely song, and very sad. You can really feel how defeated and frustrated he is with himself.