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All You Zombies by The Hooters

Album: Nervous NightReleased: 1985Charted:
58
  • This was written by Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, who founded The Hooters. It is filled with biblical images and created some controversy. Hyman told us: "I think the spirituality of it wasn't premeditated. I think everyone is a spiritual person in whatever they believe or not. There was no real agenda on our part. I know it got banned on several stations, which interested us - there were some Christian stations that refused to play it. There were articles - we never understood the controversy that much, but it stimulated activity. For a writer, that's the best thing you can do."
  • The Hooters included this song on Amore, an independent album they released in 1983. Around the same time, Cyndi Lauper's first album came out, which Hyman and Bazilian had worked on. Columbia Records took notice and signed the band soon after, releasing this as their first single. The version released by Columbia was slowed down, with instrumental sections added to make the song almost 6 minutes long.
  • Hyman: "That may have been the fastest song Eric and I ever wrote that was of any quality. We've written some quick songs, but that one stayed with us. That one we literally did write in one night. We like to call it the '10 minute song,' I think it was more like a couple hours, but we did bang it out in one night."
  • In our talk with Eric Bazilian, he explained: "This is spooky. When we first wrote the song, the first lyric that came out of someone's mouth, I think it was Rob's, was 'All you people hide your faces, all you people in the street.' We wrote a song based around that, and the next day we came in and Rob and I decided it needed a better word than 'People.' The word that came out of Rob's mouth was 'Zombies.' There was something familiar about it to me. I thought about it, and it wasn't for another year or 2 that I realized that was the title of a Robert Heilman story which I had read in 7th grade. It was a really bizarre story. Rob had never read a science fiction book in his life. It took me years to find a copy of the book because it was out of print. By the way, it had nothing to do with the song."
  • Hyman: "We launched into this kind of biblical world with Moses and Noah and all of the imagery which was the obvious, basic stuff that you read and hear about, whether it's in The Bible or in movies, and just combining those kind of icons and images with this Reggae beat, which is something I was always very much into."
  • Hyman and Bazilian liked this song, but thought is was way too quirky to be a hit. They considered it a throwaway song, and played it in clubs early in their sets when most people weren't paying attention. They didn't realize people liked the song until they did a live concert for radio station WMMR in Philadelphia. When they played this, the phones lit up and the station got flooded with requests for it. They released a vinyl 45 of the WMMR performance to satisfy the demand.
  • The Hooters played this on the Philadelphia stage of Live Aid in 1985. They were from the area and given the slot opening the concert after the introduction ceremonies and a performance by Joan Baez. Over 100,000 people attended the show while another concert was held in London. Proceeds from Live Aid went to famine relief in Africa.
  • Hyman: "To this day, it probably is the song that people ask us about the most, they want to know what it's about, they want to know the intent and the meaning, and it just happened. We didn't think about it, it wasn't discussed, it wasn't premeditated. It just came out of us. The lyrics are very intriguing. Some songs are just like that, you never quite know what they're about and if it's put together in the right way, they can be wonderful experiences. I love songs like that, you just listen and every time you hear it you kind of wonder what's going on."
  • Hyman and Bazilian went on to work with Joan Osborne on her album Relish, with Eric writing the hit "One Of Us," which also contained some religious themes. They have worked with many other artists as well, including Dar Williams, Ricky Martin and Jon Bon Jovi. (Thanks to Rob and Eric for speaking with us about this song. Their websites are www.robhyman.com and www.ericbazilian.com.)
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Comments: 25

I just love how the bible-thick religious people try and deny a blatant challenge to their faith system by trying to point out some kind of support for their ego-driven delusions in some less important part of the text. My very favorite is when you flood the discussion with reams of quotes, as if you thought you could obscure the challenge by burying it with the tripe which supports your fantasies. None of this changes the meaning of this song's final verse, and it sure doesn't answer it!Dave - New York, Ny
Does anyone here know if there is any connection between this song and the Robert Longo sculpture All You Zombies: Truth Before God?Darrell - Franklin, Tn
Here's an interpretation;
Moses received the ten commandments from God. Man is incapable of living a righteous life therefore "braking" the ten commandments (pieces). If you choose to live by the law (commandments) you will fail and you will be condemned by the law. That's the "pieces gonna fall on you" bit. Ie Judgement.
What about the Zombies; the walking dead... Those Without the Holy Spirit , dead in spirit. "pieces gonna fall on you".
The people wouldn't listen to Moses. Even as he was on the mountain top receiving the law the people built the golden calf to worship instead of God and didnt that cost them... The people didn't listen to Noah either & we know how that turned out. As for the comment on the race of the descendants of Noah? Isn't that everyone?
I think the point is that at some stage in our lives we've all been told. If you don't listen "pieces gonna fall on you".
The Law is old testament/old covenant. The Law was fulfilled by the righteous life and sacrifice of Christ. When we accept that Christ lived & died to fulfill the law FOR US then we receive the GIFT of his righteousness and enter into the new covenant. John 3:16.
Too easy? Well, that's what it says. The criminal on the cross next to Christ said he believed and where did he end up? No time for him to rub rosary beads and do good works. How about how mankind fell to sin? By the sin of one man. BANG! And it was fixed by another man (who wasn't exactly ordinary), but one man. Romans 5:17.
His Grace. His righteousness. IT'S A GIFT. You don't have to earn it. You just have to accept it, receive it.
Come judgement day; the law will be used as the standard for non believers. What is the penalty for not living up to the law? (pieces gonna fall on you) Romans 6:23.
Those who believe in Christ and live in his grace will be seen as righteous.
Question; how does a person just, believe? Answer: instead if being instantly dismissive, just open your mind & your heart to the possibility, that maybe....? "Seek and you will find" Matthew 7:7.
Anyway, good song. I like it. :-)
Jim - Coffs Harbour, Australia
Whoo Philly! The Hooters are so underrated. I love their song Johnny BOlivia - Philadelphia, Pa
FYI, the Hooters are still together, and have a new album coming out. They are currently celebrating their 30th anniversary together, and they are as amazing as ever. We saw them twice last year. They played The Last Call concert at the Spectrum in Philly, with Hall and Oates, and they played as headliners at the Borgata in Atlantic City (unbelievable concert!!) and they just finished a tour of Germany.

They are truly the nicest guys. My husband knows their drummer, Dave U., and he recently came to our house and played All You Zombies on our drum set. It was the coolest most amazing moment of my life. I now get chills every time I look at that drum set or hear that song. I'm not a drummer (my husband is) and I never realized that the drums make that entire song. It would be nothing without Dave's incredible drumming. I got the whole thing on my flip camera, and took a great photo of him with my 7 year old son at his drum set, as well.

As WMMR's Pierre Robert said, "The Hooters are Philadelphia's gift to the world!"
Jill - Audubon, Pa
I just heard this song for the first time on the radio and was immediately bothered by the line about Noah's family being the "Israelites." Noah's descendants weren't the Israelites. Abraham's were. Did no one catch this in post production? Check it out for yourself. Noah's sons are actually credited for being the fathers of whole different races, including the Philistines who used to persecute the Israelites generations later. There wasn't a single jew in the entertainment business who could've caught that? C'mon.Zack - Langhorne, Pa
Maybe it was missed in the above, noted comments: The Zombies it has been well known for 25+ yeras are in-fact, The Roman Catholics & so it follows that "Holy Father" could only be The Pope or rather the office of the Holy See rather than any individual. Together with the future head of NBC News, Steve Capus, future WMMR - WYSP - WMGK DJ, Ray Koob, Simpsons collectibles book author, blogger & avant garde jazz composer, Robert W. Getz along with Rounder Records guy, John Toney, Glenside PA rockabilly bar owner, Scotty Acker as well as yours truly + a volunteer staff of about 50 folks - we played the daylights out of the original live 45 mix & other locPaul - Jamison, Pa
What surprised me about this song is how much the Evangelical Christians around me hated and loathed it. I was 13 when this came out and loved the song and the lyrics to me had a political message - they seemed squarely aimed at religiosity turned to hubris: spiritual blandness and hypocrisy. And all those Christian hypocrites got totally infuriated being sent a prophetic message by a bunch of secular (maybe even devil-worshipping LOL) rock stars. But it must have touched a deep nerve or they wouldn't have got so worked up about it.Daniel - Melbourne, Australia
I can't remember when it was that I first heard this song, Probably back in Year 10 at high school in 1985 when it was first released. One thing I do know for sure though is that I love to hear this song when it comes on the radio. If anyone wants to see a video of this song from 1986, please see the link here http://www.getalookatthis.com/2009/04/03/classic-80%E2%80%99s-songs-all-you-zombies-by-the-hooters-live-1986/Craig - Port Macquarie, Australia
I grew up in New Zealand and had never heard of The Hooters, but I can remember watching The Hooters perform in live aid 1985 and taking an instant liking to "All you zombies". Some months later it had become a huge hit in NZ. This song brings back some wonderful memories from the 80's.Glenn - Auckland, New Zealand
I cooked for The Hooters one night on their 1985 tour with Squeeze. They were celebrating their road managers birthday and came in my restaurant in Lexington Ky. We had a great time, they were very down-to-earth and fun to be around. Later that night we all went to a club downtown where we heard Squeeze was jamming with the band that that was playing on stage. The Hooters wanted to out-do them, as Squeeze was an arrogant, selfish band on that tour, and The Hooters quite resented it. Unfortunately, Squeeze had already left by the time we got there, so we just partied into the night. The Hooters left us Comp tickets for the show the next night...awesome concert, band and music.Joe - Lexington, Ky
Growing up in Levittown I had the privledge of seeing the Hooters perform live at Vernon's Tavern.Recently a friend mentioned Vernon's, I did a web search and found this thread, I feel like I was part of history.Gary - Levittown, Pa
To Jim in Warrington:
Your not the only one... But that was alot of brain-cells ago.. I mixed sound for Hazzard on afew occasions, as well as several other local bands.
Jim in Levittown..
Jim - Somewhere, Pa
I am glad to see I am not the only one who was a Hooters fan, and I thought I was the only person in the whole world that listened to Robert Hazard and the Heros. Talk about a trip down memory lane!Jim - Warrington, Pa
I haven't read anyone mention this yet (unless I missed it?), but do you know 'All You Zombies' was recently covered by the German singer Sandra (the female voice of early Enigma, and wife of Enigma's Michael Cretu) - it appears on her latest (2007) album 'The Art Of Love'. And I think it's one of the best songs I've heard in ages! (Only recently discovered it's a cover of the Hooters song). If you're at all interested in this song you should check out her version (I think she does it better, but would be curious to know what you guys think). Rohan, TaiwanRohan - Johannesburg, South Africa
The words "all you zombies" are used in the Heinlein story near the end, so it's possible that the quote marks just indicate that it's a quote from the story itself. Heinlein did stuff like that occasionally, as in the story "... We Also Walk Dogs" (where the quote marks are again actually part of the title).Bob - Oceanside, Ca
Interesting story about the first time that I ever heard this song. It was a Saturday morning in the summer of 1985, a week after I had just passed the 7th grade and I was 13 years old. I always slept with my radio on so the first time I ever heard All You Zombies was when it became part of my dream, a very weird and creepy dream. The dream started out about this creepy old house that was around the corner from the house that I grew up in and then went from that to this weird almost ghostly ferret like animal that lived in my attic that made these creepy howly but almost musical sounds all night. I remeber in the dream asking my parents if there was a way that we could get rid of that animal because it was creeping all of us out. Anyone who reads this part now is probably going to laugh, but as it turns out those weird creepy sounds that the ferret like animal was making in my dream, was the guitar lead intro that comes in just before the vocals start. As soon as I woke up from the 5 minute dream the end of All You Zombies was playing on the radio and I realized that was what I had been dreaming about. The creepy old house in the dream I have had reoccuring dreams about ever since. I don't know how to word this any better but it was almost like there was some spiritual connection between the song and my dream. I have dug that song and been a fan of The Hooters ever since!

Cameron
Cameron - Campbell, Fl
I just heard it on Jack-FM for the first time in probably 20 years. Loved that song!

I always thought for some reason maybe this song was about the history of the Jews in a weird way. Starts with the Bible stuff, then "they later were the Israelites", then I figured the end about "where have all your children gone and you don't have to hide anymore" meant about the emergence of the state of Israel and the many contributions of Jewish people to society in the 20th and 21st Century. I know that both members of the Hooters were Jewish so maybe that's what it was about?
Harry - New York, Ny
Its sad to see that no one in Pa., USA would respond to this message, (let alone anyone else in the world)Jim - Somewhere, Pa
Len its good to know those albums are in good hands. Please fix your website "contact us", it rejects email addresses. JIMJim - Somewhere, Pa
My grandfather was Vernon Perroots. I now have the gold & platinum album that the Hooters awarded to him. I also have the original 45 album sleeve for All You Zombies that was in the jukebox at Vernon's Tavern before they got their big break.

Sounds like "Jim from Somewhere, PA" knew my grandfather...

Len Perroots
perroots.com
Lenny - East Stroudsburg, Pa
Just thought I'd throw this in for the heck of it. Back in the late 70's I was in a band that rented rehearsal space right across the street from another band (That band was known as 'Hot Property' at the time). That band played the local clubs in the Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania area, and later became the Hooters.
The band at that time had a female singer named Heidy Lindner. After reforming as the Hooters, the band consisted of, Rob Hyman (keys and hooter), Eric Bazilian (guitar), Bobby Woods (bass), John Kuzma (lead guitar), and Dave Usekeinen (not sure on the spelling, but he was the drummer). They became a regular fixture at a club in Levittown, Pennsylvania until the time they gained recognition through local radio play, and playing some of the more well known clubs in downtown Phialdelphia. When approached to sign a contract with a record company ( Capital I think ),they had to make a few changes. Both Bobby Woods, and John Kuzma would be replaced by the then lead guitarist, and bass players from another area band, Known as 'Robert Hazard and the Heros'
The Levittown, Pa. club where they pretty much got they'er start was known then as 'Vernons Tavern', (now called 'The 5 Points Sports Bar'.
After being signed, the band awarded their first gold record to Vernon Perroots (owner of Vernon's Tavern) where it was hung on his office wall until his retirement, and and untimely death.
Jim - Somewhere, Pa
I loved this song when I was in High School. I loved the Hooters! I saw them open for Squeeze in 1985 from the second row in the Nassau Coliseum. I just listened to the song again for the first time in probably 20 years. The melody and arrangement are still killer, but now I find the lyrics silly. "Yeah they were the Israelites!" What's up with that? Sigh...it makes me long for the innocence of my youth when songs didn't have to make sense...Michele - San Francisco, Ca
Bazilian: "I realized that was the title of a Robert Heilman story which I had read in 7th grade". The author's name is actually Robert Heinlein, possibly the best-selling science-fiction author of all time. The short story "- All You Zombies -" (that is how Heinlein titled it, complete with quote-marks, though I have been unable to identify the quote source if it is a quote) was written in 1959 and is a story about a time-traveller who loops back and meets himself in various guises, a theme Heinlein used in other stories too. "- All You Zombies -" is available in Heinlein's short story collection "The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag".Martin - Sydney, Australia
No comments to this mystical, air-folling song? I almost can't believe it! Is good music completely forgotten today? Believe me, I'm not some old guy being sad that music changed the way it did in the 90s and today. I'm 20 years old, and by the time of nirvana, I launched into the world of rock music. As the years went by, I listended to many songs from the 60s up to today's rock music. I found many bands and songs that I soon learned to love, in every age of rock music, from Chuck Berry to The Hives. I first heard the song "All You Zombies" on a big benefit party for the flood victims of the awful tsunami. The party took place in a huge subterranean car park which was reconstructed to be a party location. But there was still the atmosphere and the environment of a lonesome and dangerous garage at night. And as the yellow neon lights shone on the grey walls of the giant garage, and the party people were just arriving, this song was floating through the air. I thought that it fits so perfectly to the mystical yellow neon light and the dark environment of the garage. The people were completely impressed by this song because it was played in a place that seemed to be made for it. And I was among the crowd, hypnotized by the melody and moving around restlessly like a zombie among other zombies. After the song had ended and I had recovered from the vision-like images that filled my mind, I went to the DJ and asked for this song. That was how I learned to love "All You Zombies". I am sure, if you would have been at the same place and listened to the same song, it would have also caught you...Benjamin - Heidelberg, Germany