Who doesn’t love monkeys? They are such a signifier of a good time that to say something is a real blast is to say that an activity is more fun than a barrel of them.
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A hit song off of The Beastie Boys’ first album ‘License To Ill’, Brass Monkey was a premixed cocktail bottled by the Heublin Company.
It was a combination of vodka, rum, and orange juice and purportedly had quite the kick to it. This tune was the hip-hop pioneers’ ode to the potent alcoholic beverage.
A single off of Peter Gabriel’s fourth album ‘Security’, there was nothing else like this on the radio at the time. After this, Gabriel would go on to become a household name with his next album ‘So’, and its hit ‘Sledgehammer’ became a fixture on MTV.
Peter Gabriel has said this monkey song is about the most primal of emotions, jealousy. We were very glad to find out that it isn’t about shocking an actual monkey.
With lyrical nods during the verses to sayings by the Maharishi that The Beatles picked up during their time in India, this song was one of the liveliest off of ‘The White Album’.
The chorus of the song was John Lennon’s way of describing his relationship with Yoko Ono. The couple felt that everyone around them was being particularly paranoid and uptight, so everyone had something to hide but them.
This song off of one of The Rolling Stones’ best albums ‘Let It Bleed’ has Mick Jagger singing “Well, I am just a monkey man/I’m glad you’re a monkey woman too.”
There is much back and forth about the meaning of its lyrics, but this was from the height of The Stones’ hedonistic years, so we have our theories.
This classic 50s tune by Chuck Berry has him bemoaning bills, work, school, love, and more. It turns out that it is all too much monkey business for him to bother with.
The song resonated with many with covers recorded by several artists. Even The Beatles once took a crack at it. Their version is on their ‘Live At The BBC’ recordings.
A deep cut off of Aerosmith’s blockbuster comeback album ‘Pump’, this song deals with the recently sober Steven Tyler and his struggles with addiction.
Tyler and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry earned the nickname ‘Toxic Twins’ due to their many drug exploits. The shininess of that sort of life eventually faded though and the members of the band decided to get clean.
Thankfully, the sobriety stuck and they came back bigger than ever.
This song off of the band’s album ‘Doolittle’ has nonsensical lyrics as the verses and then “This monkey’s gone to Heaven.” as the chorus.
Over the years though, a lot has been made of its impenetrable lyrics to be about the environment, our place in it, and our destruction of it.
Okay, we’ll bite. We’re still not really sure what that has to do with that monkey in the chorus though.
This classic calypso tune performed by Harry Belafonte might be the most fun song on this list. In most of the songs on this list, a monkey is a metaphor. Not here.
This genuinely seems to be just about a man that has a monkey following him around and driving him crazy. It begins with the monkey at his gate, then coming inside and pouring the singer’s girlfriend a drink. Harmless enough, right?
Well, eventually it gets to the point that the monkey is embracing the girlfriend, destroying the toiletries, and getting so out of the hand that the singer is contemplating cooking up some monkey stew. The song reached a new generation decades later in an episode of the popular cartoon ‘Animaniacs’.
The first song on Side B of Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’, “Very Ape” is one of the heaviest songs on arguably Nirvana’s heaviest album.
‘In Utero’ was a course correction for the band, feeling that the polished sheen of ‘Nevermind’ gave them too many fans in the mainstream culture that they could not relate to.
The band enlisted underground sensation Steve Albini to engineer their next record and the rest is history. Some might argue about the inclusion of this song on the best by saying apes are not monkeys. We read that are the sister group of the Old World monkeys and that is good enough for us.
In this song, Dave Grohl sings about not wanting to be someone’s monkey wrench in a relationship. This is in reference to a common colloquialism about throwing a monkey wrench into machinery to cause a disruption.
The ‘monkey wrench’ dates back to 1835 and was invented by a Baltimore mechanic named Charles Moncky. The first use of the phrase that is documented was in 1892 in reference to a debate in the House of Representatives.
Despite all this stuffy history, the song rocks pretty hard.