Friday, May 8, 2009

Too Much Monkey Business

This weekend I'm in D.C. for a mini-vacation based around seeing a bunch of friends from college (we went to school not too far away) as well as my little sister. As a childhood resident of Baltimore and then Norfolk, I used to go to D.C. like it was my job, but at this point I haven't been a tourist here for a long time. And today I get to be one, because we're going to the National Zoo! Squee! I don't think I've been to the Zoo since I was in second grade! And according to the website, there's now a baby giant anteater!

They also have monkeys. And because of that incredibly dorky connection, I'm listening to "Too Much Monkey Business" today. Look, okay, I can't be on and awesome all the time. Besides, the song rules! Bob Dylan has said that it influenced "Subterranean Homesick Blues," for God's sake! And it's another by the tremendous Chuck Berry! Whether or not you see any monkeys today, you'll love it. Just listen.

It's really more of a musical rant than anything else. I find it hard to understand some of the lyrics, but you don't really have to understand them to get the idea that the singer is sick of monkey business-- that is, all the stupid frustrations of workaday life. So each verse is a litany of stuff that sucks, followed by that refrain. There's no bridge or any other musical material to cloud up the song's intention, which seem to be to just let off steam and kick some ass.

As usual, John delivers just the right vocal, spitting out the several verses and all the many many words with tons of bite and grit and all that you'd want from it. It's more talking/yelling/bitching than singing, really, in that the pitches don't exactly matter, and John alternates between a sort of disgusted mutter, a nyah-nyah schoolyard kind of sound, and actual a true snarl-- all of which he sounds like he's kind of smiling through, to my ear. (The Chuck Berry covers are fast becoming my favorite Beatles covers, if I might overgeneralize here, mostly due to John.) But George rocks here too, and his guitar growls appealing on his solo bits. Like other tracks from Live at the BBC, this one shows off how tight the Beatles were as a live band, which is why Live at the BBC might be, if I'm honest one of my favorite albums. I feel weird admitting that because, obviously, it's not REALLY an album per se-- but it just sounds so awesome. I dance all over the place whenever I put it on. Kind of like I'm dancing all over the motel room right now.

Anyway, "Too Much Monkey Business" had an ethos that fit into the later '60s and the screw-the-man spirit, I guess-- here's Chuck Berry doing it at the 1969 Toronto Rock Festival, adding some timely lyrics about Vietnam. Even he can barely get all of his own lyrics out.

"Too Much Monkey Business" works beautifully as a song to kick off my vacation and your weekend, by the way. Screw everything, kids. Let's just rock out instead.

"Too Much Monkey Business," released in the U.K. and U.S. disc 1 track 5 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe not everything. I mean, don't screw the monkeys. The FBI isn't more than a mile or two away.