shock the monkey. Go on, shock it



We’ve heard of sock monkeys, but not shocked monkeys, until we received this email from Larry:

While driving around with my teenage son, Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” came on the radio. After 4 minutes of being told over and over to shock the monkey, we’re not quite sure what he wants us to do. Is this an expression with some other meaning? Or is Mr. Gabriel suggesting that we toss a plugged-in toaster into the tub the next time a chimp takes a bath???

I’ve tried reading through the lyrics, but all I can gather is that Peter Gabriel has probably dropped a lot of acid in his lifetime.

Firstly, Larry, thankyou for directing our attention to this song which we’d never encountered before. The video looks like Peter Gabriel is starring in a Matthew Bourne ballet alongside the Pixar lamp.

Though some have spent considerable effort delving into the meaning of this song, we have usually found that the vast majority of baffling-sounding songs are about either drugs, sex or masturbation. Sometimes a combo. So readers, cast your votes:


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5 Responses to “shock the monkey. Go on, shock it”

  1. Cosmo Says:

    Shock The Monkey is about how a person’s jealous can result in primal behaviors according to Peter Gabriel himself.

  2. Fungus the Bogeyman Says:

    You are the monkey 🐒 and I shock your primal monkey brain with some form of outrageous proposition (perhaps sexual but not always) resulting in a Celebrity style wide eyed, opened mouthed, semi-paralysed, gawp-fest. Presumably followed by throwing faeces.

  3. Joe Swanson Says:

    Shock the monkey is about the practice of eating brains of a live monkey. When you cut open the head you shock the monkey and any observers to this act. Peter participated in the act once and then wrote about this in a song.

  4. John Thomas Says:

    First, I think that the category “sex” would also include “masturbation.” I’ll accept that “sex” means that another person (or more) are involved though.

    Be that as it may, it’s a truism that many inscrutable song lyrics are about masturbation, so that’s the answer.

    Also, “spank the monkey” is a euphemism for masturbation (see if this is not international,) so shocking the monkey must be a particularly extreme form of wanking.


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