Holiday in Cambodia (3:46)

Cover of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

From Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and 60 other releases

“Holiday in Cambodia” was the second single by the American hardcore punk band Dead Kennedys. The record was released in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with “Police Truck” as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band’s first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980), and the version that appeared on this single, as well as the single’s b-side, are available on the rarities album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987). The cover picture of the single is taken from the 6 October 1976 Massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the rightist crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair.

The song attacks both Eastern totalitarianism, Western complacency and the direct relation between the two through American military intervention. The song’s lyrics offer a satirical view of young, self-righteous Americans (So you been to school/For a year or two/And you know you’ve seen it all/In daddy’s car/Thinkin’ you’ll go far…) and contrast such a lifestyle with a brutal depiction of the Pol Pot regime of Cambodia (Well you’ll work harder/With a gun in your back/For a bowl of rice a day/Slave for soldiers/Till you starve/Then your head is skewered on a stake).

The version of this song that appears on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is slightly different from the single version, being fifty-five seconds longer and featuring an extended guitar noise intro as well as an extended psychedelic solo.

In October 1998, Jello Biafra was sued by former members of the Dead Kennedys. According to Biafra, the suit was a result of his refusal to allow “Holiday in Cambodia” to be used in a commercial for Levi’s Dockers; Biafra opposes Levi’s due to what he believes are their unfair business practices and sweatshop labor.

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