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franferparraga

Talk about Zombie Zoo song

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On May 24, 2018 at 12:43 PM, franferparraga said:

Hello everyone, can someone transcribe what Dhani Harrison said about the song "Zombie Zoo" on the SiriusXM show. I can not understand everything... Thanks 

I can't help you with that but I think Zombie Zoo is a fun song, one of my favorites, was surprised it had never been played live and is the perfect ending to Full Moon Fever; you get vampires in the first song and zombies in this one at the end.

It's just a pure fun song, though one could look at the lyrics and feel badly for the people who seem a bit lost in a subculture they maybe don't want to really belong in but somehow became a part of, but I never really took a deep look at the lyrics, just enjoying this for the fun quick ditty it is.

cheers

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On 5/26/2018 at 12:36 PM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I can't help you with that but I think Zombie Zoo is a fun song, one of my favorites, was surprised it had never been played live and is the perfect ending to Full Moon Fever; you get vampires in the first song and zombies in this one at the end.

It's just a pure fun song, though one could look at the lyrics and feel badly for the people who seem a bit lost in a subculture they maybe don't want to really belong in but somehow became a part of, but I never really took a deep look at the lyrics, just enjoying this for the fun quick ditty it is.

cheers

I also think it's a great song, very funny with a relaxed tone like the record.

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On 5/24/2018 at 12:26 PM, nurktwin said:

Don't know what Dhani said, but George Harrison said that when it was written for The Wilburys, Tom and Bob just took off with it and George nor Jeff knew what they were talking about and just let them go with it.

😁

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This is not a transcription but I just listened to it and he said something along the lines of, that George Harrison (or 'my dad' as he calls him) went off with some goths because he was bored (not sure that was the word he used, will have to listen again) with the rest of the Wilbury's in that particular moment, and TP wrote the song in a kind of retaliation. I felt that Dhani was a bit unclear as he told the anecdote so I may not have understood it right, but that was the gist of it as I understood it - probably to be understood tongue in cheek :)

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I love the intro organ and percussion, right after the end of Heart of its Own it's the perfect end to this fun album. If perhaps, as Shelter noted that the early albums had some spooky dimension to them, this record has more of a fun fantasy type vibe, a nice counter balance, if Luna's a bit mysterious, Zombie Zoo is a dance party.

cheers

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So I spend the last half hour trying to find a decent cover of this song on Youtube. Turns out it was one of the least well spent 30 minutes of my life - I am now tired, weary and quite frankly blushing with shame. Oh, the horror! In so many ways.

I guess I struck gold in terms of good stuff to back up an argument, though. Argument being Tom's own - that a good song is a song that you can peform, sitting in your kitchen with one guitar, one voice (or something to that effect). To my ear, ZZ quite obviously evaporates completely without the specific arrangement and production it's given on FMF. This goes to say that, understood this way I can understand why Tom didn't like the song. It doesn't meet his own standard, seemingly. 

Still, let's just say that in the hands of these people covering it, the song reveals two things. 1) many people seem to like it, and 2) it's more single dimensional than you may think when you hear it on record. 

 

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24 minutes ago, Shelter said:

Thanks for proving my point!

Wow! it's almost like you'd rather listen to It Ain't Nothin' To Me...the studio version.

I think the song works both stripped down and with a full band, it's got some neat chord changes, galloping drums, crazy b-horror movie organ, fun lyrics and does a lot in a short period of time. Oh well.

cheers

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1 hour ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Wow! it's almost like you'd rather listen to It Ain't Nothin' To Me...the studio version.

Well, let me put it like this. I'd rather listen to Zombie Zoo... the studio version.

(Not to sound grumpy, I get the joke, but seriously: IANTM is actually a slighlty better composition than ZZ, in my opinion. Just that the latter is lifted to quite a decent level of greatness by the production and attitude, while the former -already on paper far from grand - is arranged and produced all the way down to the muck stratum.)

1 hour ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I think the song works both stripped down and with a full band, it's got some neat chord changes, galloping drums, crazy b-horror movie organ, fun lyrics and does a lot in a short period of time.

It does. In the studio version.

The second example you posted above is surely the best of what's out there. And it displays the point perfectly - the more you "arrange" this song, the better it gets. But again, that to me is proof that the song is not genuinely that good. On paper, it's as flat as... the paper. It got a certain punch, but I don't hear enough hook or swing, some of the melody is left hanging and so on. This is what I like to call a production song, sorry. I'll take it with all the layered organs and oh-la-la-las I can get. Oh well indeed.

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On ‎5‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 7:26 PM, nurktwin said:

Don't know what Dhani said, but George Harrison said that when it was written for The Wilburys, Tom and Bob just took off with it and George nor Jeff knew what they were talking about and just let them go with it.

I don't know if that adds up chronologically. While it seems plausible that other (future) Wilburys were present at the incident that inspired the song, the whole Full Moon Fever project was wrapped up before the Wilburys happened. That's what Tom said in an interview, probably in "Conversations". Then the record company didn't like the album and Tom took it back and handed it in six months later or so. Or even later. So I think it's not very likely that it was written for the Wilburys.

The song you are referring to is Tweeter And The Monkey Man, that one didn't make much sense to Harrison and Lynne, as George said in the Wilburys documentary. They viewed it as some "Americana kind of stuff" :lol: when in fact it was a Springsteen pastiche/tribute (I forgot how many Springsteen song titles are referenced in the lyrics, but it's a lot). Which, maybe, amounts to the same thing.

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^ Right! There it is. I thought something did not quite compute in that particular side story. Tweeter & The Monkeyman is where that is at! Thank you! Although, to me personally, for someone who is into music in any way, even someone who is just briefly familiar with Bruce Springsteen and doesn't know any of his song titles, the style, atmosphere and rambling lyrics of T&M practically scream Springsteen parody. For anyone with the slightest knowledge in the subject, T&TM just a wicked hybrid tall tale in the vein of Highway Patrolman and Johnny 99, the mentions of a "mansion on the hill", a "Jersey girl" and a "Thunder Road" kinda giving it away to anyone in doubt. It's all very clever. To miss all levels of that is quite exceptional, even for brits Harrison and Lynne. At least I think so. But it is a good story, and we love good stories!

As for Zombie Zoo, I think whatever the reason for mixing it up with T&TM here, it really is a totally poetic and wonderful slip. Of course, Zombie Zoo should have been a Wilburys tune! That is genius thinking. It's so Wilburys in character that I don't know where to start. So much more so than FMF. Speaking of how I see ZZ as a song very dependent on arrangement and production, I can really hear it lifted even further given the swinging TW treatment, perhaps wee tad slower than we're used to... with Tom and Bob taking turns with the verses and Roy coming in for a thrilling and chilling  "She disappears at sunrise.. I wonder where she goes..." That would be absolutely briliant. How come I never thought of that?

When Tom was given the absurd verdict of "not good enough" from MCA, for FMF, perhaps he should have recognized the chance this "rejection" meant. With some extra time and hindsight on his hands, and various new friendships and collaborations - quite a madly prolific and fun time in Tom's career, one would suppose - I'm a bit surprised that all he come up with in ways of "salvaging" FMF, to satisfy the A&Rs (try to say that out loud!), was Feel A Whole Lot Better. WHAT?! It's too easy to sit here, some 30 years later and think... why didn't you shelf ZZ, with hopes that it could be used in some of the new projects (that must clearly have been under way by the time the final draft of FMF was handed in) and why didn't you put a FMF mix of the brand new, loose end, Heartbreakers/Bangles cut Watiting For Tonight on there instead?  A rare opportunity to rework details and set things straight, that you don't see often. One that was sadly missed. Not that things didn't turn out great anyway, but still... I guess Tom didn't have as much second thoughts about ZZ then, as he would develop later on. Him and Jeff apparently too pleased with their original product - for good reasons too - to make even the slightest changes, that they didn't have to. Given all the opportunities at hand, Feel a Whole Lot Better, seems more like a joke than  anything else. A joke the record company felt very serious and happy about, apparently. (Then again, wasn't there staff changes at MCA the time? That would perhaps have granted the original, sanse FAWLB cut of the LP its release anyway after the initial push back for some time...? Who knows. Speculations anyway.) 

 

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2 hours ago, Shelter said:

I'm a bit surprised that all he come up with in ways of "salvaging" FMF, to satisfy the A&Rs (try to say that out loud!), was Feel A Whole Lot Better. WHAT?! It's too easy to sit here, some 30 years later and think... why didn't you shelf ZZ,

 No! I'm glad FMF was released as is, it's a perfect record, Feel A Whole Lot Better is a nice way to start Side B. While Side A is five really good songs all perfectly balanced against each other, Side B is a nice mix of high pop-rock energy, unusual lyrics and a tender little lullaby. 

I love Waiting For Tonight but it doesn't fit at all on this record. And losing Zombie Zoo? It's such a good little song, to me, summing up the whole FMF experience as its been told, this one-of-a-kind magical record that just happened, Zombie Zoo contains the energy of the record with some nice singing, inspired drumming and bizarro lyrics. I was very much surprised when Tom even suggested not having it on there.

cheers

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OK, I listened again and I still think it's a weird anecdote. Dhani Harrison is not so good at telling anecdotes, I must admit - he sort of sounds a little confused. There are two places where I'm not sure exactly what he said - I put a question mark in those two places. Also, I didn't think that the Travellin' Wilbury's ever played live, did they? They seem to have according to this anecdote, which makes me think Dhani Harrison is not really telling it right?! Anyway, here it is:

(Dhani Harrison talking on TP Radio, after having played Zombie Zoo)
“That was one of my favourite fun songs, Zombie Zoo. That song was banned on this station, by Tom. Because.. apart from on Halloween… ‘cos it was getting too much play. I say, I’m sorry, but that song is coming back and I wanna tell a story about when it was written, in a Deny’s (?) off Sunset, next to the Palladium, late one night, after a show, I imagine, with the Travelling Wilbury’s, where my father tried to ditch them to go and hang out with some goth kids, who seemed to be having a lot more fun than said Wilbury’s. And I think it caused quite a stir. My dad always liked to ‘queer the pitch’ (?), wind people up, even the goth kids. They didn’t know what to think. He was just going to go right ahead and ditch the Travelling’ Wilbury’s for some goth kids. Anyway, that was Tom Petty’s retort to said abandonment by writing the song Zombie Zoo, ‘You look like Boris Karloff, and you don’t even care.”

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^ Unless it was just Tom, Jeff and George hanging out after being to some other people's show, since they were obviously friends, hanging out around that general time? That could, to DH, easily be "Traveling Wilburys" hanging out "after a show." Seems like they were at a Denny's anyway. But even if the incident took place there, the song may not have been written right there and then, right. 

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12 hours ago, Shelter said:

^ Unless it was just Tom, Jeff and George hanging out after being to some other people's show, since they were obviously friends, hanging out around that general time? That could, to DH, easily be "Traveling Wilburys" hanging out "after a show." Seems like they were at a Denny's anyway. But even if the incident took place there, the song may not have been written right there and then, right. 

That sounds very plausible :)

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On 6/5/2018 at 11:31 AM, Shelter said:

As for Zombie Zoo, I think whatever the reason for mixing it up with T&TM here, it really is a totally poetic and wonderful slip. Of course, Zombie Zoo should have been a Wilburys tune! That is genius thinking. It's so Wilburys in character that I don't know where to start. So much more so than FMF. Speaking of how I see ZZ as a song very dependent on arrangement and production, I can really hear it lifted even further given the swinging TW treatment, perhaps wee tad slower than we're used to... with Tom and Bob taking turns with the verses and Roy coming in for a thrilling and chilling  "She disappears at sunrise.. I wonder where she goes..." That would be absolutely briliant. How come I never thought of that?

Oh boy, that would have been lovely!

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