It’s Friday, so let’s focus on an 80s party anthem. Or, at least, that’s what it seems on the surface. Lurking beneath this upbeat ska classic is a scathing indictment of Cold War politics and the continued threat of global nuclear war. Despite the heavy subject matter, in the end this is a positive plea for the next generation to choose a different path than their parents did.
Released in 1985, at the heights/depths of the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher era, Fishbone states its case with a tongue-in-cheek opening salvo that makes it clear we’re all doomed. From there a narrative unfolds between young American soldiers, represented by “Johnny,” and young soviet soldiers, represented by “Ivan.” There is a never-ending war machine that needs more fodder and these are tomorrow’s heroes. The band pleads with Johnny and Ivan to party instead, because the seeds for world destruction have already been sewn and further fighting is pointless.
So, you know, start dancing before we all get turned into “pink vapor stew.” Wackado, wackado, wackado!
Read the full lyrics for Fishbone’s “Party At Ground Zero” right HERE.
More “Short Story in a Song” posts:
- “Throwaways” by Beach Slang
- “Violins” by Lagwagon
- “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s
- “Clean Sheets” by Descendents
- Books on the Bus Podcast Mini-Series—Talking to musicians about their favorite books and authors
S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, GRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.