There are countless songs that feature animals. From dogs, cats, and all sorts of pets. However, did you know that there are also a number of songs about monkeys that have been around since the early days of modern music? If you haven’t heard any of them yet, we’ve got you covered! Here are some of the best songs about monkeys you should listen to.
1. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide, Except For Me And My Monkey” by The Beatles
Out of all the songs from any Beatles album, this one takes the cake for being the longest. While it’s not about the animal itself, it’s a nice song with the word “monkey” on the title and the lyrics. The song was written around the time John Lennon and Yoko Ono got together.
A lot of people were rather anxious and paranoid about the fate of The Beatles and the couple themselves. So, Lennon wrote a song that basically says they’re unbothered about it all because they’re in love. A critique made a cartoon portraying Ono as a monkey riding Lennon’s back, so Lennon retaliated by writing the song and even used “monkey” as a playful and affectionate nickname for Ono.
2. “Shock The Monkey” by Peter Gabriel
Anyone who’s listening to this song for the first time will be confused as to what the lyrics mean. Don’t worry. It’s not about shock therapy or animal rights violations. While it does say “monkey” in the title, the song is about jealousy.
Being released in 1982, the track used a number of cutting-edge technology at the time. From drum machines to synthesizers, “Shock The Monkey” was riddled with a lot of electronic devices to improve its backing track.
3. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by Pixies
The next one on our list of songs about monkeys is just as cryptic as the previous one. Many have tried to interpret it, but according to the band itself, the entire point of the song is to be meaningless. Nonetheless, they say that it was written to revolve around the title, which means it might have something to do about nature and our environment.
This song was the band’s first single from a major label, and their efforts paid off. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” was regarded as Song of the Year in 1989 by The Rolling Stones. It also became one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
4. “Sleepy Monkey” by Widespread Panic
When Widespread Panic first got together, the first single they wrote was called “Coconut Image.” On the B-Side, they juxtaposed it with another song called “Sleepy Image.” After a short while, “Coconut Image” became “Coconut,” while “Sleepy Image” became “Sleepy Monkey.”
The reggae-tuned song is about a life of partying and having fun, which can sometimes be exhausting. The persona sings about his friend, roommate, or housemate, and how his/her lifestyle can be tiring sometimes, causing the persona to call him/her a sleepy monkey.
5. “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones was famous for a lot of things, but not always for songs about monkeys. Their song “Monkey Man” was released in 1969 from their album Let It Bleed, but was rather unpopular.
It was thanks to Martin Scorsese who included the song in his film Goodfellas. It was only during the 90s that the song received plenty of airtime, more than 20 years after its release.
The song talks about the persona being a monkey man and being glad that he found a monkey woman. It might be confusing, but a lot of people assume that the song is actually about drugs.
6. “Monkey And The Engineer” by The Grateful Dead
Tracks with the word monkey in the title may come and go, but songs about monkeys playing huge roles in the events that are unfolding are eternal. Here’s a funny story from The Grateful Dead that talks about an accident between a monkey and an engineer.
The engineer in the song is also the one who pilots a train, driving it in different places. When he got hungry, he decided to take a quick break and stepped off the locomotive. The monkey, whom he always travels with, suddenly pulled the throttle of the train and drove it at speeds reaching 90 mph.
7. “Brass Monkey” by Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys is a rap group from New York that was formed in 1981, and one thing we can tell you about them is that they know how to party. In their song “Brass Monkey,” they name-check all of the most popular alcoholic beverages of all time, including Chivas Regal Whiskey, Moet Champagne, and Martini.
However, the one drink that made it to the top is the brass monkey. It’s a cocktail drink made from a bottle of Olde English 800 Malt Whiskey mixed with orange juice. The drink was very popular back then, especially in hip-hop parties.
8. “Tweeter And The Monkey Man” by Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys is a supergroup of musicians including Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. They often collaborate in the songwriting process of the band, but the song “Tweeter And The Monkey Man” was written solely by Dylan.
The song is set in New Jersey, and it talks about the tale of two criminals on the run while an undercover cop tries to put them behind bars. One of the criminals is named Tweeter while the other is called Monkey Man.
9. “Monkey Man” by Toots and the Maytals
Songs about monkeys don’t always talk about the animals, sometimes it’s inspired by a person who acts or looks like a monkey. Toots and Maytals wrote one called “Monkey Man,” and no, it’s not about drugs like the one from Rolling Stones.
Instead, the song is about a man who’s waiting for his girl. However, the girl decided to be with another man, and from the persona’s perspective, he thinks the other man looks like a monkey, hence the title. Amy Winehouse also made a cover of this song.
10. “Monkeys” by Echo and the Bunnymen
Echo and the Bunnymen didn’t really hold back when trying to hide the true meaning of this song. The chorus is just them singing the line “keymon” twice, which is what you’d get when you invert “monkey.”
There’s a lot of speculation as to what the song means. Some say that it’s about the pettiness of humans, leading them to act like monkeys when the chips are down, ready to throw anyone else under the bus to save themselves.
That’s probably because of the line “keymon,” which, when sung, sounds like “qui ment,” meaning “who lies” in French.
11. “Too Much Monkey Business” by Chuck Berry
You know it’s a great list of songs when the legendary Chuck Berry is part of it. Thankfully, he also contributed to the growing roster of songs about monkeys. His song, however, is about the daily tribulations of life which, to him, is just monkey business.
It’s a song for people who believe they’re made for something more, as almost all of us do. The daily hassles of life can be “Too Much Monkey Business” for people who have greater goals in life. Still, let’s not forget that those are inevitable.
12. “Punish The Monkey” by Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler has always been known to defend the working class, having been from the same predicaments most of us encounter daily. His song, “Punish The Monkey,” may sound confusing at first, but allow us to clarify a few things for you.
The chorus of the song goes,
“Punish the monkey
And let the organ grinder go”
Back in the day, an organ grinder is someone who performs shows on the streets. He would often have a real monkey that would go around the audience asking for money. In Knofler’s song, the organ grinder is the boss or the big man, while the monkey is the working class.
It’s a protest about the system of work in the country where the working class is often the ones who are punished or keep the gears turning while the people above them control them and earn most of the money.
Next: 23 Songs About Money
13. “Part Man, Part Monkey” by Bruce Springsteen
This list of songs about monkeys will not be complete if we don’t talk about one of the most heated debates in all of human history. Did we come from apes? Or were we created by God from dust? Well, Bruce Springsteen addresses this question in his song “Part Man, Part Monkey.”
As the title suggests, it’s rather obvious where he stands in this debate. He even goes on to address and challenge preachers to “come down and see” that Springsteen himself is part man, part monkey.
14. “Monkey” by Harry Belafonte
Not all of us have fun and memorable experiences with monkeys, but Harry Belafonte has one. Was it memorable? For sure. Was it fun? Maybe not. In his song “Monkey,” he narrates all the crazy things he experienced with a monkey, albeit fictional.
First, the monkey invited himself to Belafonte’s home. He then stole his girl and proceeded to use all of his personal items. In the latter part of the song, Belafonte admitted he had had enough so he would ask the monkey to leave first thing in the morning. If the monkey doesn’t leave, he wants all of us to come down to his home for a monkey stew.
Don’t worry! We’re certain it’s just a funny remark and no animals were actually harmed in the making of the song.
15. “Monkey On My Back” by Aerosmith
Aerosmith is one of the biggest bands of all time, which means they have some of the wildest and deepest stories to tell. In fact, Steven Tyler and the band’s guitarist, Joe Perry, were given the nickname “toxic twins” because of how dangerous they became, especially when it comes to drugs.
The band’s song “Monkey On My Back” depicts drugs as a monkey riding on the persona’s shoulders. The persona is then slowly realizing that a lot of the things holding him back are caused by the monkey (drug addiction). However, what really made the persona get sober is when his friends started dying.
Thankfully, Tyler and Perry did get clean, and the band became stronger and more popular than ever.
16. “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)” by The Dickies
The Dickies also contributed to our list of songs about monkeys with their track “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla).” At first glance, the song seems to be simply talking about an ape or a monkey going wild and running around.
However, when you really try to dissect the song, you’d find that it’s about going crazy about a girl. The lyrics seem to suggest that the persona goes around town partying or performing, and he just can’t resist the beauty of this one girl he refers to as “baby monkey.”
17. “Dance Monkey” by Magic!
Some of us are fortunate to be remembered by a lot of people for one particular masterpiece. Nasri Atweh, Magic!’s lead singer, knows the feeling all too well after the band’s song “Rude” became a huge hit. This led the band to play or sing the song just about anywhere they go.
However, when you repeatedly do something, it can turn into a chore. That’s what Atweh felt a few months after performing the song multiple times every day. Being a creative artist, he felt like a “dancing monkey” as people urge him to sing the song each time they play.
This was the main inspiration for their song “Dance Monkey.”
18. “Lab Monkey” by Alice In Chains
Not all monkeys were fortunate enough to be part of fun and happy songs depicting their journey with their person. Some monkeys end up in experimentation laboratories. That’s what Alice In Chains seems to be singing about in their song “Lab Monkey.”
While the lyrics are rather confusing, the song suggests the point of view of a scientist and a monkey in a laboratory being tested for all sorts of things. The first verse is the monkey asking for help or for someone to save him. However, the next verse is about the scientist trying to examine the monkey.
The entire song seems to be changing back and forth from the perspective of the monkey and the scientist.
19. “Me And My Monkey” by Robbie Williams
This song is both fun and tragic. Robbie Williams was talking to a girl while he was in Singapore, and the girl asked him how he gets into the process of writing a song. Williams replied that songwriting is simply about writing whatever is on your mind.
He then asked the girl two things she wants to hear in a song and he promised her he will write a song that same afternoon. The girl replied, “monkeys and rollerblades.” Ergo, “Me And My Monkey” was born.
However, Williams also explained that the song has a deeper meaning, even going on to describe the song as a “cautionary tale.” Williams had a rough past, and he regularly resorts to self-destructive behavior because of his cocaine addiction.
He says that the “monkey” in the song also refers to his drug abuse. Thankfully, Williams got sober in 1997 with the help of a rehabilitation certain.
20. “Monkey Riches” by Animal Collective
This is the best environmental song to ever come out from the Animal Collective, and it fits their name perfectly. Dave Portner, otherwise known as Avey Tare, shows his dismay about the state of the planet in this song.
He didn’t hold back when he said that our environmental footprint, or the way we live today, being indifferent towards the environment, only makes a monkey (people) rich and a monkey (animal) wretched.
21. “Monkey To The Moon” by The Coral
While a lot of the songs about monkeys on this list somehow depict monkeys as troublesome creatures or use them as metaphors for drugs, The Coral says otherwise. Well, it’s about a lot of things, one of which is seeing a monkey go to the moon, hence the title.
Additionally, the lyrics also sing about anything and everything that you may or may not see in the world or the world outside of this one, like an angel inside a car or lizards who are for the sun.
22. “The Hartlepool Monkey” by The Teesside Fettlers
Back in the early 1800s during Napoleon’s reign, legend has it that a French shipwreck was brought ashore in the Hartlepool town of England. However, upon investigation, none of the members of the crew survived except for a monkey. The people of Hartlepool had not seen a Frenchman nor a monkey before, so, they thought the monkey was a spy and hung him.
While “The Hartlepool Monkey” is not the first and only song written about this legend, we can guarantee that it’s the one very much worth listening to.
Monkeys are one of the most peculiar animals here on earth, and we seem to have a specific kind of connection with or opinion of them. That’s probably where there are countless songs that include this creature in their lyrics.
If you ever want to make a playlist about animals, be sure to check out our list of songs about monkeys!