Certain Songs #445: Fishbone – “Party At Ground Zero”

Fishbone EP Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

As I’ve written before, if you were a young person in the mid-1980s, you kept one eye permanently on the sky, expecting that at any moment nuclear hellfire would rain down from out of nowhere.

This naturally let to a lot of great songs, from The Clash’s “Stop The World” to XTC’s “This World Over,” but of all of the songs written about nuclear annihilation, none was more fun than Fishbone’s epic “Party At Ground Zero.”

Like a lot of the greatest Fishbone songs, “Party at Ground Zero” has a ton of moving parts, so it starts out with a long reggae instrumental that kinda meanders here and there, before exploding into lightspeed ska, which almost instantly gives away to the brilliant almost acapella group chorus:

Party at ground zero
A “B” movie starring you
And the world will turn to flowing
Pink vapor stew

Of course, it wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics on the internet that I discovered that the lyric that I’d always thought was “Every movie star and you” was actually “A ‘B’ movie starring you”. And assuming the internet has it right (which is a huge assumption with the lyric sites) I still like my interpretation better, because it meant that not even the privilege of being a movie star was going help folks with the Big One dropped.

Either way, after that intro, it’s a joyous horn section and enough energy to deflect a nuclear blast as Fishbone sing about how fucked we’d all be in case of that nuclear blast. For one thing, getting blown up would mean that we couldn’t dance to this song anymore!

And of course, my favorite part back in 1985 was when somebody interjected “Play it, Boy Wonder!” just before a particularly hot trombone solo. Actually, it’s still pretty cool.

“Party at Ground Zero” Music Video

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