What does Shock The Monkey mean?

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Peter Gabriel: Shock The Monkey Meaning


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Shock The Monkey Lyrics

Shock the monkey to life
Shock the monkey to life
Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out' the trees
Now I'm on my knees
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know when you're going to...

  1. anonymous
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    Aug 22nd report

    The lyrics to this song are written in such a manner that they could have a variety of interpretations. Example: there's an old saying about having a monkey on your back, which means having an addiction. Therefore, it's possible that the song is about a drug addict going through withdrawl.

  2. anonymous
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    May 6th 2019 report

    He says it's simply a song about jealousy.
    How the jealous raging over your mate can reduce you into the primal pre-sapien cortexical part of the brain that is intensely reactive and beastly.
    but this could also be the state of a psychotic break with reality. The writer and director of the video, not Gabriel, references ancient tribal ritual and Shamanism. The painted face, the white suit, the ring of fire, the banging together of sticks, the rising from the water and crying out--the video is a "Vision". It's not fable or allegory. It is a "Vision". There's a difference.

  3. anonymous
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    May 1st 2017 report

    I'm working slowly but intently on this song. It uses the metaphor of 'shocking a monkey'--experiments with classical and operant conditioning in animals and, well, in humans as well--something to do with what is called in the Pysch trade 'learned helplessness' perhaps the line "don't like it but I guess I'm learning" applies to this. I always thought it meant "don't like it but I guess I'm learning (to--like it)" as we usually colloquially mean. But, I tend to think Gabriel is being crafty with us. The song certainly has something to do with the alienated, anxious aspect of modern man in high-tech advanced civilization--and something about the healing of that (in the video, Gabriel appears in white tribal face paint in a bright- lighted room making a circle of fire---and while in this state he addresses the camera and displays a transcendent self-mastery in sharp contrast to the suffering man in the dark suit, with the walls closing in on him, putting his fists to the table to stop its frenetic shaking--in these phases he exhibits a form of high anxiety--and what prolonged sublimation and repression often lead to---a break with reality--psychosis. (or, perhaps, it's about drug addiction and cocaine-induced psychosis). All this I'm juggling in my head and will be juggling about with for many more weeks until, I hope, as has happened before while in hot pursuit of, not merely an interpretation,--but the full purport and intent of a work of art--I hope for that 'flash of insight', where everything falls into place in an instant and I see it all stark and clear, as if its hidden meaning had been obvious from the beginning.(By the way, that flash of insight struck me while working on U2's ZOOTV and Bono kissing the camera during "Until The End of The World--the DVD concert--so I know insight is nothing like an educated guess). Feel free to add your own pieces to this puzzle of a song, Peter Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey."

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