|Day 157: Tim Booth (Monkey God)
This blog will either go spectacularly or end badly. Probably the latter.
When I first heard Tim Booth's 2004 song "Monkey God," off of Bone, I was convinced he had been influenced by one of the most endearing musical acts of all time, The Wiggles. Throughout the song, and most prevalent on the first 8 bars or so of the song, is, probably, a guitar-effected wah-wah, a kind of eerie whooooooh, that forms the backbone of some stupid Wiggles' song. I know it, but, damn it, I just can't prove it.
Trust me, I have spent way too long finding Wiggles' YouTube videos, watching Jeff awakening from sleep, Dorothy the Dinosaur stumbling around stage, and Wiggle replacements showing up. After hundreds of "no, oh god no, not that song," I finally have given up and hope this blog will lead me to my salvation.
By 2005, my 6-year old son would have played a Wiggles' VHS hundreds of times, so I am sure somewhere they employed this same sound effect in a song. I believe (as he seems very guarded about his family details) Booth's son was born in 2003 or 2004, so it is very likely, he couldn't avoid The Wiggles. Look, Booth may not even be aware he has appropriated a sound sample from The Wiggles; he may have just heard it rushing past the t.v. on the way to the loo and never noticed how it latched onto his brain like a tick.
Then there are the title and the lyrics. If there were two things The Wiggles loved to sing about (besides food), they were animals and religion. Let's tackle the animals first: "Butterflies Flit," "Calling All Cows," "Crocodile Hunter," "Zamel The Camel Has Five Humps," "Kookaburra Choir," "Koala La La," "Bert The Wombat," hell, even "Australia Zoo." They had, at minimum, four songs about monkeys, one of which included Kylie Minogue ("Monkey Man"). Goodness, blow me down, mate, with the tributes to the animal kingdom.
And then there were all the Christian-based songs, many hymns or Christmas songs that they covered, such as "Angels We Have Heard On High," along with catchy Wiggle classics like "Yule Be Wiggling," "And The World Is One On Christmas Day," and "Henry's Christmas Dance."
Sure, with the title "Monkey God," the song seems more likely to reference Hindu mythology and the powers of humans needing to be held in check. Some eggheads will argue that it's really about the struggle between ideas of evolution and creationism. Scholars would point to lines such as "my behavior's chemical/nurture biological/determined by the stars in space" or "Mix X with the Y chromosome/one to destroy/the other tries to find the way home" as evidence of the deep philosophical underpinnings of "Monkey God." After all, this is the guy who wrote "if God is in his [man's] image/the almighty must be small" in "God Only Knows."
However, I would caution all not to overthink this. With the hypnotic Wiggle-ness of the music, the lyrics reveal a simple mantra to the listeners that rivals "Fruit Salad" for moralistic simplicity ("it's time to put the scraps away/wash the bowls and wash the spoon/let's do it all again real soon").
"We co-create our fate/everything's connected," Booth sings repeatedly, his "yummy yummy" as bananas connect to grapes to connect to melons in the human fruit salad. Later, he sings "see things from the stratosphere/we're unimportant here," that moment when we realize there's "nothing left on our [fruit salad] plate."
I mean, it's uncanny. I also don't believe it is coincidental that the page with "Monkey God" in the Bone CD booklet shows a collage of Booth with his family (I assume) including one where he seems to be clearly wearing a bear costume, straight from "Rock-A-Bye Your Bear" (a word of caution on clicking on either of those two links, both might be NSFW but for entirely different reasons).
So, I think I have proven my point here. Tim Booth was channeling his inner Anthony/Murray/Greg/Jeff when he recorded "Monkey God." If he wishes to disprove my point, he merely needs to write me a letter (signature clearly visible) asking me to retract this, and I will. If any of The Wiggles write me, they should thank me. Their videos have had more hits the last few days from me then they may have had in years. If the FBI ever comes to arrest me, please direct them to this blog for evidence that my research was completely on the up and up.
Tim Booth. "Monkey God." Bone. Sanctuary, 2004. Link here.
Day 156: Sinead O'Connor "Black Boys On Mopeds."
Day 158: Natalie Maines "Take It On Faith."
See unfinished list here.