Song of the Day #376: ‘Monkey’ – Counting Crows

satellitesCounting Crows’ second album, 1996’s Recovering the Satellites, was a bit of a letdown from August and Everything After, but I’ve grown to appreciate it over the years. Initially it felt a little too hard and a little too all over the place.

And I’ll admit, the extended coda of the otherwise excellent song ‘Miller’s Angels’ annoyed me so much that it turned me off the whole album for awhile. Duritz occasionally suffers from that Sting syndrome of not wanting to let songs end. And he can be a bit too in love with his own voice sometimes, noodling around with a phrase until you’re ready to smack him.

But that complaint aside, Recovering the Satellites emerges as a solid effort that avoids the fabled sophomore slump.

It contains one of the band’s most popular and beloved songs, ‘A Long December,’ a lovely piano (and accordion) ballad about (again) loneliness and inner pain. That song finishes with one too many “yeaah”s, a source of much amusement for my brother-in-law and me. Duritz’s then-girlfriend Courtney Cox appears in the video looking far more forlorn than she ever did on Friends.

Cox was also the inspiration for today’s SOTD, ‘Monkey.’ The title was apparently his nickname for her while they dated, perhaps providing a clue as to why they broke up.

I think I’m kind of alone in this, but ‘Monkey’ is one of my absolute favorite Counting Crows songs. I’m not even sure why. I love the piano buildup that starts the song, the melody, the chorus, the backing vocals, the bridge, everything about it. It’s pure sonic pleasure.

I also love the Ben Folds reference… this was one of the first times I’d ever heard that name and shortly after this album came out I picked up the first two Ben Folds Five albums. I don’t know if I can credit Adam Duritz with my discovery of Ben Folds, but he sure didn’t hurt. Folds later returned the favor by name-dropping Duritz on the song ‘Fear of Pop’ from his experimental album of the same name.

All dressed up
No place to go
Hey monkey, when you gonna show your face around me?
I know all the wrongs and rights
And I just want a little light to fall on me

Hey monkey, where you been?
This lonely spiral I’ve been in
Hey monkey, when can we begin?
Hey monkey, where you been?

We’ll I’m all messed up
That’s nothing new
Hey monkey, when you open up your blue eyes,
I don’t know if I’m wide awake or dreaming
But all I ever need is everything

Hey monkey, where you been?
This lonely spiral I’ve been in
Hey monkey, when can we begin?
Hey monkey, where you been?

Just get the world off your shoulders
and close your pretty blue eyes
Hey monkey, what’s life without an occasional surprise?

Got nowhere but home to go
Got Ben Folds on my radio right now
I’m in trouble for the things I need
Hey monkey don’t you want to be needed too?

Hey monkey, where you been?
This lonely spiral I’ve been in
Hey monkey, when can we begin?
Hey monkey, where you been?

10 thoughts on “Song of the Day #376: ‘Monkey’ – Counting Crows

  1. dana says:

    I was a bigger fan of this album than you were initially and I’m glad you have warmed up to it more over the years. I agree that AD can go on a bit long and repetitive at times, a trait for which I have heightened awareness given Amy’s sensitivity to this.

    I don’t find your appreciation for this song unusual. I think this a very good song.

  2. Amy says:

    Courtney Cox is Monkey? Cool 🙂 I like this song well enough, but I adore “A Long December,” so that would definitely be the highlight of this album for me. That said, I listen to “A Long December” on Hard Candy, which is in constant rotation with August… I can’t remember the last time I picked up another of their CD’s. This week will be a reminder for me of all their other songs.

  3. Clay says:

    What do you mean by listening to ‘A Long December’ on Hard Candy?

  4. Amy says:

    I mean, of course, listening to “A Long December” on Films About Ghosts, which is in constant rotation with Hard Candy, this Desert Life, and August and Everything After.


  5. Clay says:

    You bought a greatest hits collection by an artist whose every album you own? For shame!

  6. Amy says:

    🙂 i imagine it was a gift, though we might have bought it for the two new recordings it contains. would you like me to do a guest blog on one of them? ;P

  7. Clay says:

    I’d love that… have it to me by Friday. 🙂

  8. Amy says:

    Will do… until then, here is an amazing live performance of “Round Here” that the band did on the Howard Stern show about a year ago. The fact that Duritz can sing the song the way he does while sitting there in a bunny suit! is rather amazing. I’ve heard many (especially Dana) rave about this version of the song, and I have to agree that it’s pretty amazing. Figured this was a clever way 🙂 to feature at least one more adored song from August…

    Enjoy (oh, and I also love the little bit of Howard that you get from this clip):

  9. Amy says:

    in case it isn’t obvious, I strongly suggest you NOT look at the “video” while listening to the song. It’s radio, people! Once you get the visual, let the song unfold as it did on live radio. 🙂

  10. The Ben Folds name drop always gets me. I was pretty obsessed with this album came out, I liked it a lot more than AAEA. I was so into it, that they could’ve dropped anyone’s name and I would’ve seeked it out. I did just that with Ben Folds. About 6 months later BFF broke with Brick. It was pretty cool to feel ahead of the game. Still love this album a ton, and have grown to like AAEA just as much.

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