Song of the Day #4,930: ‘New Monkey’ – Elliott Smith

Here’s a track from 2004’s New Moon, the second posthumous Elliott Smith release following his death in 2003.

While the album released prior to this one (2004’s From a Basement on the Hill) was in the works but unfinished when Smith died, this one is a collection of unreleased tracks mostly recorded a decade earlier in his career. A lot of newer fans name this as their favorite Smith album, which bugs me because it’s the one Smith release with which he had zero involvement.

That said, the songs are typically great. Many of the tracks, including today’s SOTD, were recorded during sessions for Either/Or, my own favorite Smith album.

‘New Monkey’ seems to be about Smith’s creative process, and the way some fans can’t get past his drug addiction, or even see it as a selling point. The song has a more upbeat, pop sensibility than much of Smith’s output from the time.

Here comes the sidewalk boss again
Telling me how I can’t cave in
That I’m a study in black
Need a pat on the back

I look up and smile
A picture of dissatisfaction
That he can only see as a junkie
Though I might be straight as an arrow
He’s busy shaking hands with my monkey
Busy shaking hands with my monkey

I go in my car
Straight to the bar
Where my sweetie pours the beer
For the millions of fans ignoring the bands
He’s in my ear
Wants me to live in denial
Says, “You’ve got to settle for something
Though it might not be really living
Anything is better than nothing
Anything is better than nothing”

No half-dead action man going to move in to take my place
I’ll be pumping out the product
Just a total waste
Look at your hands unoccupied
Look at the lengths you’ll go to hide
You’re under the veil
Pretending to fail
Got a whole lot of empty time left to go
Now you’ve got to fill it with something
I know what you could do, don’t you know
Anything is better than nothing

No half-dead action man going to move in to take my place
I’ll be pumping out the product
Just a total waste

I’m here with my cup
Afraid to look up
This is how I spend my time
Lazing around, head hanging down
Stuck inside my imagination
Busy making something from nothing
Pictures of hope and depression
Anything is better than nothing
Anything is better than nothing
Anything is better than nothing
Anything is better than nothing

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,930: ‘New Monkey’ – Elliott Smith

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It’s interesting that an album of songs Smith wrote but chose not to release would be a fan favorite.

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