Everything Zen
by Bush

Album: Sixteen Stone (1994)
Charted: 84 40
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  • This was the first single from Bush. The lyrics are about youth culture.
  • Lead singer Gavin Rossdale made reference to two of his favorite people in one of the lyrics: Tom Waits and Allen Ginsberg. The line "Rain Dogs howl for the century" refers to the Waits album Rain Dogs (also a "song), and the Ginsberg poem Howl.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Gavin Rossdale, he explained the meaning behind the line, "There's no sex in your violence." It comes from a line in the Jane's Addiction song "Ted, Just Admit It..."

    Said Rossdale: "I thought about that line, and it always struck me as a powerful lyric. I was thinking about that, and I was thinking about where I was living and where I had grown up, and some of the more violent aspects of that life and of those kids. I really hated that violence growing up. I was a little bit lost and didn't know where I was going, what I was doing, and I was committed to music, with no chance of having any success. I had been struggling for years. And that line, 'sex and violence,' that is a common thread through art. I just decided to put it in the context of, 'There's no sex in your violence.' It's sort of a personal belief, a personal mantra."
  • The line "Minnie Mouse has grown up a cow, Dave's on sale again" refers to David Bowie, whose song "Life On Mars" contains the line: "Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow, Lennon's on sale again."
  • Bush is a British band, but they had by far their most success in America, where this song led the charge. In December 1994, a copy of "Everything Zen" made its way to KROQ, an influential radio station in Los Angeles. Their DJ Jed The Fish made it his "Catch Of The Day," and the song got a huge response, sending it into hot rotation. Other radio stations followed suit, MTV put the video in their Buzz Bin, and the song gradually found a foothold across the country.

    Bush took advantage of the opportunity by touring America and playing the song on TV appearances (including Late Night with David Letterman) and radio showcases (including the KROQ Acoustic Christmas concert) along the way. By the end of the tour in April 1995, they were playing arenas.
  • This was the first song for which Bush made a video. It was directed by Matt Mahurin, who had done videos for U2, Peter Gabriel, and Alice in Chains.
  • This song helped bring the word "asshole" into the mainstream. The first verse contains the line "Should I fly Los Angeles, find my asshole brother," which most radio stations left as is. This type of profanity would have been removed just a few years earlier, but standards of acceptable profanity were being lowered. The TV show NYPD Blue was using it on primetime US TV, something that had never been done before.
  • Around this time, Britpop acts like Oasis and Blur were huge in their homeland but struggling to break through in America. It was the opposite for Bush, who got hardly a listen in their native England (Sixteen Stone peaked at #42 on the UK Albums chart), but was embraced in the US. Much of this has to do with "Everything Zen." Despite Gavin Rossdale's accent, the song is very American, with a heavy grunge sound and lyrics about being young and disaffected. A quick comparison:

    "Everything Zen":
    We're so bored, you're to blame

    "Live Forever" by Oasis (also released in 1994):
    Maybe I don't really wanna know how your garden grows

    Rossdale spent much of 1991 in America, as the grunge sound was emerging.
  • In an interview with Guitar World, guitarist Nigel Pulsford said that the solo in the song was "Probably recorded after a few drinks." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Corey - Boston, MA
  • In America, the song wasn't released as a single, which kept it off the Hot 100 (per Billboard rules) but sent sales of the Sixteen Stone album skyward. By the end of 1997, it had sold over 6 million copies. The song reached its peak position of #40 on the Billboard Airplay chart in March 1995.
  • In 1996, No Doubt was Bush's opening act for about three months on an American tour. During this tour, Rossdale took up with No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani, leading Rossdale's bandmates to refer to this song as "Everything Gwen." Stefani and Rossdale later married.
  • Gavin Rossdale was dirt poor when he wrote this song, which gave him the perspective for these lines:

    A million dollars at stake
    As you search for your demigod
    And you fake with a saint


    He told Fuse: "That's to do with people that espouse spiritual values and lean certain ways and then they behave like douchebags in another area of their lives. So, it was that sort of hypocrisy of people that are obsessed about self-help books or self-improvement.
  • Bush included two versions of this song on their 1997 album Deconstructed: The Lhasa Fever Mix and the Derek DeLarge Mix. In the DeLarge Mix, you can hear Gavin Rossdale's ex-girlfriend Jasmine Lewis (subject of "Glycerine"), singing "no sex in your violence."
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Comments: 21

  • Zero from The Abyss, NjI feel like this song perfectly describes me at this point in time.

    "Everything Zen? Everything Zen? I don't think so." - With my chronic anxiety, I find it hard to live in the moment.

    "There must be something we can eat." - I'm always hungry, and my medication makes it worse.

    "We're so bored, you're to blame." - I get bored very easily.

    "I don't believe that Elvis is dead." - I can't let go of the past/nostalgic things/trends that are long dead. (This band being one of them)

    I think I'll go play my Super NES now.
  • Mareen from San Antonio, TxIt's seems to be about "Hope"
  • Dave from Elizabeth, NjI remember the time well. The FCC had just declared that the word "asshole" was no longer a security threat, and every hack TV scriptwriter and boring rock band were tripping over each another to get the word out there. Mainstream entertainment types everywhere could now congratulate themselves on how Transgressive they were being, without any loss in profile, record sales, or advertising. I had hoped it would filter down to Barney, but it never got quite that far. Please forgive the snarky tone of this post, I'm just recalling how annoying that particular moment was.
  • Takae from London, United KingdomI always thought it was a lazy commentary on a certain couple from London. One half is doing yoga, investing in a film, partying, finding spirituality in "exotic" religions like Buddhism, relying on other people to provide thrills, and so on. And all the while, the other half is becoming disillusioned or bored with it all.
  • Michael from Buffalo, NyYou are all wrong. This song is about the sitcom Full House and Gavins utter disgust with its theme song and all that the show represents. just hear me out. He speaks from the character Jessie's point of view. The show begins with him flying to Los Angele's to move in with his "asshole brother" played by Bob Saget. Bob has just lost his wife in a violent accident leaving him with 3 young girls. Referring to him as an "asshole" because he now has to help take care of the kids. Upon arrival Gavin/Jesse "finds another lover" Becky. Dave Coulier his comedian friend of no relation to Bob actually settles in the basement. Throughout the show he is always trying to reinvent himself despite constant failure "Daves on sale again". In the opening scene they are all riding in a convertible and your point of view is the rear view mirror one of the Olsen twins makes a kissy face at everyone. Gavin/Jesse than says "were so bored and your to blame". your to blame as in you damn kids. The opening theme song seems most closely tied to Jessie's life as well. Zen is the instantaneous here and now existence. Theme song says "How did I get delivered here? Somebody tell me please This old world's confusing me". the character Jesse is absolutely obsessed with Elvis throughout the entire run of the sitcom. Raindogs howl for the century. the scent has washed away in the rain leaving them lost. Theme song "Clouds as mean as you've ever seen Everywhere you look When you're lost out there and you're all alone". As for mickey mouse growing up a cow. An obvious reference to the growing popularity of the Olsen at the time. Theme song "Kid, Don't sell your dreams so soon". mother was going to pull them from the show at one point but then the cash rolled in. There is no sex in their violence? Sex is a violent invasion with intent to seed... colonize. There Is no sex but the violent invasion and colonization is ever present.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaGreat song...The 90's last real decade for real music...
  • Andrew from Dayton, NjNone of these interpretations tie all the possibly true references above. My theory is that this song is a response to Jane's Addiction zen philosophy: especially apparent in Nothing's Shocking- Jane's sings about Elvis being dead, and that Sex is violence- which Gavin refutes (in line with the title). The Dave for sale here is Dave Navarro. The event referenced is lollapolooza: "a million dollars at stake & fake with a saint & minnie --> cow." Lollapalloza was suposed to be disney world for rock. "Asshole brother" is a kindred-sprirt-type loose reference to Perry Farrell(who's in LA). Rain dogs is indeed a comment on the days promoters. Listen to Jane's, do a quick study on Zen Philosophy, and then revisit this song- you can't deny it.
  • Ashley from Sandy, OrWho ever it was that mentioned that the song has the same lyric as Alice in Chains is awesome! I thought I only noticed it!
  • Kenneth from Springfield, IlThis song IMO is about the American culture.

    There must be something we can eat_ Americans are fatasses, plain and simple

    Maybe find another lover- Plenty of cheaters in this country

    Minnie(? ) mouse has grown up a cow
    Daves on sale again- This is a stap at David Bowie I believe, the Minnie line is from a Bowie song, and Bowie is known to change is music for what is popular, hence he's a sell out. Or it could also be towards Dave Groul of the Foo Fighters, since they werent exactly friends

    Theres no Sex in your violence- Violence is excepted in our culture, while sex is looked down on

    I dont believe Elvis is dead- Americans simply just cant give anything up, even though Elvis has been dead for years, theres still epoeple who worship him
  • Austin from Smallsville, NeThis song has a heavy nirvana influence ecspeccially in the bridge.
  • Gabby from Gloucester, NjI think this song is about a sexually abusive relationship in common life.
    "No sex in your violence" is a perception about rape that girls get, believing that it was about sex, when rape is just about violence and power.
    And when they say "everything zen, I don't think so" symbolizes that not everything is okay.
  • Adam from Wauseon, OhBadass song...thats all i have to say! i dont care what its about...
  • Derp from Jackson, Msthe line "try to see it once my way" is also the exact lyric in the Alice in Chains song "Would?" i wonder who ripped who off?
  • Tess from Milledgeville, GaI listen to this song when everything's screwed up...but I have no idea if it has anything to do with that...Does anybody know...or think they know...what it's about?!
  • Alex from Narberth, PaThis is similar to Neil Youngs song...but ive sung that song for audiences before and its not the same. This song is really good. I have no clue what its about though. It does seem to be about youth culture though...with the whole thing about searching for god and the "try to see it once my way" might be about relationships with parents. this actually does make sense to me in a weird way.
  • Nick from Arlington Heights, IlSong's main riff is the same as that of Neill Young's "Keep on Rockin in the Free World"
  • Krie from Ft. Drum, NyWhen Gavin was first dating Gwen Stefani, his bandmates would tease him after he walked in from seeing her by singing, "Everything Gwen..."
  • None from Savannah, Gai think that this song tells Gavin's philosophy against people who believe in luck and coincidence, and that nothing in the universe is set in stone and everything happens because of pure science with action yields reaction logic.
  • Nick from Paramus, NjThere are also internet sites dedicated to misheard lyrics.
  • Kei from Salem, OrFeatured in one of the "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" series of books of misheard lyrics, with both the original version and a second one constructed entirely from misheard lyrics. At first listen, neither version seemed all that easy to understand....
  • Paul from Toledo, OhI have no clue what this song is about, but it rocks!
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