Song of the Week

EHSDA Song of the Week: Party at Ground Zero

With EHS Daily Advisor covering radiation safety this week, it brought to mind the fact that there are many songs about nuclear war and the resulting radioactive fallout. If you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, that fear of global thermonuclear war was fairly pervasive, and it definitely extended to pop culture. The Song of the Week dates back to 1985 with a ska-punk classic from the legendary Fishbone.

Fishbone came up in the Los Angeles club scene of the early ’80s at the same time as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After getting signed by Columbia Records, the band released “Party at Ground Zero” followed by a self-titled EP, which came out in September 1985.

The song is fatalistic but fun, starting out with a reggae instrumental intro before erupting into a sped-up ska jam. It wasn’t necessarily a new concept, partying in the face of certain doom, but Fishbone brought it to a new level.

“Party at ground zero/A B movie starring you/And the world will turn to flowing/Pink vapor stew/Please do not fear cause Fishbone is here to say/Just have a good time, the stop sign is far away/The toilet has flushed and green lights are a ghost/And drop drills will be extinct/Speed Racer cloud has come/They know not what they’ve done/Sin has just won/And the Earth is a crumb.”

The band’s horn section kicks things into high gear and the song promises a good time, even if it’s not for a long time.

Fishbone went on to a long and up-and-down career. They opened for the Beastie Boys in 1987 on the Licensed to Ill tour, played Saturday Night Live in 1991 and were featured on the Lollapalooza tour in 1993. The band has had many lineup changes over the years but continues to tour and record.

Even as fears of global war get stoked every few years or so, “Party at Ground Zero” remains a go-to song to both remember and forget about those fears.

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