Tweeter and the Monkey Man

bbdance766.jpg

The coolest thing about the Traveling Wilburys for me was that Bob Dylan was freed up to finally have himself a little fun again. Like John Lennon and Pete Townshend, I think Dylan hit a period where he wanted to be continually moving forward to bigger and better things and forgot about the simpler joys of producing something that was perhaps somewhat disposable, but possibly just as brilliant.

I like to say that just because it took 1000 times as long to record “A Day in the Life” than “She Loves You” doesn’t mean that it is 1000 times better or ever better at all. Obviously, after you’ve written Quadrophenia, it seems like you’re going backwards when you start to write three minute pop tunes again, but that forgets how awesome the perfect three minute pop song can be.

Bob Dylan abandoned the so called “protest song” in the early 60’s, but when he wrote “Hurricane” a decade later, you were amazed by how well he could instantly pop back into that mode.

I’m not saying that I want my heroes to repeat themselves, but it’s great when they can just relax and remind you how brilliant they are. “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” is a hilarious parody of the entire Bruce Springsteen genre in five and a half minutes.  I can’t stop laughing when I hear it, despite the fact that Dylan manages to turn it into a somewhat fascinating and extremely violent B movie.

The fact that Springsteen was often burdened with the “new Bob Dylan” label makes it even more riveting. Hopefully, Springsteen was honored rather than irritated.

Tweeter and the Monkey Man were hard up for cash
They stayed up all night selling cocaine and hash
To an undercover cop who had a sister named Jan
For reasons unexplained she loved the Monkey Man

Tweeter was a boy scout before she went to Vietnam
And found out the hard way nobody gives a damn
They knew that they found freedom just across the Jersey Line
So they hopped into a stolen car, took Highway 99

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

The undercover cop never liked the Monkey Man
Even back in childhood he wanted to see him in the can
Jan got married at fourteen to a racketeer named Bill
She made secret calls to the Monkey Man from a mansion on the hill

It was out on Thunder Road, Tweeter at the wheel
They crashed into paradise, they could hear them tires squeal
The undercover cop pulled up and said “Everyone of you’s a liar
If you don’t surrender now, it’s gonna go down to the wire

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

An ambulance rolled up, a state trooper close behind
Tweeter took his gun away and messed up his mind
The undercover cop was left tied up to a tree
Near the souvenir stand by the old abandoned factory

Next day the undercover cop was hot in pursuit
He was taking the whole thing personal, he didn’t care about the loot
Jan had told him many times it was you to me who taught
In Jersey anything’s legal as long as you don’t get caught

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

Someplace by Rahway Prison they ran out of gas
The undercover cop had cornered them said “Boy, you didn’t think that this could last”
Jan jumped out of the bed, said “There’s someplace I gotta go”
She took a gun out of the drawer and said “It’s best if you don’t know”

The undercover cop was found face down in a field
The monkey man was on the river bridge using Tweeter as a shield
Jan said to the Monkey Man, “I’m not fooled by Tweeter’s curl
I knew him long before he ever became a Jersey girl”

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

Now the town of Jersey City is quieting down again
I’m sitting in a gambling club called the Lion’s Den
The TV set been blown up, every bit of it is gone
Ever since the nightly news show that the Monkey Man was on

I guess I’ll go to Florida and get myself some sun
There ain’t no more opportunity here, everything’s been done
Sometime I think of Tweeter, sometime I think of Jan
Sometime I don’t think about nothing but the Monkey Man

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

And the walls came down, all the way to hell
Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell

One Response to “Tweeter and the Monkey Man”

  1. There’s a scene in the making-of DVD in the Wilburys box set that shows Bob roughing out the lyrics, for this song I believe, on a yellow legal pad. Then he holds up the pad as sort of cue card to ad-lib/finish the lyrics while recording the song in the booth. George Harrison says something to the effect of how amazing it is, the way Bob does that.

    Monkey Man, also a.k.a. Mick Jagger.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment