"Punish The Monkey" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
They're driving long nails into coffins
You've been having sleepless nights
You've gone as quiet as a church mouse
And checking on your rights

The boss has hung you out to dry
And it looks as though
Punish the monkey
And let the organ grinder go

you've been talking to a lawyer
Are you gonna pretend
That you and your employer
Are still the best of friends

Somebody's gonna take the fall
There's your quid pro quo
Punish the monkey
Punish the monkey, yeah
Punish the monkey
And let the organ grinder go

Here comes a policeman
He won't be sidetracked
He's asking 'bout a smoking gun
He's after the bad

It's a quiet life from here on in
You dropped your poisoned cup
The telephone is ringing
But you're not picking up

Times I've said are flunky
And everybody knows
Punish the monkey
(Punish the monkey)
Punish the monkey, yeah
(Punish the monkey)
Punish the monkey
And let the organ grinder go

Punish the monkey
(Punish the monkey)
Punish the monkey, yeah
(Punish the monkey)
Punish the monkey
And let the organ grinder go

Punish the monkey
Punish the monkey
Punish the monkey
Punish the monkey


Lyrics submitted by bars.of.a.rhyme

"Punish The Monkey" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Punish The Monkey song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentLove this song

    Would love to hear some interpretations
    Sysyson October 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAn organ grinder is a street performer who plays a street organ and, in old times, sometimes had a trained monkey to scamper around with a cup for coins. Now they often use stuffed or brass monkeys in an homage to those days.

    That being said, to me, that makes "punish the monkey" means the little guy gets punished, while "let the organ grinder go" means the person with the power gets away with it. I think this could be applied to many things, from criminal enterprise to the government. It often seems the lackeys get punished heavily, and the guys pulling the strings get off with little or no punishment.
    u2nspenserfanon December 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentu2nspenserfan You are exactly right.. I believe the same thing.. and with "Here comes a policeman,
    He won't be sidetracked" hes possibly talking about corruption in police or atleast I apply this to the US.
    fenderpaman16on May 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is obvious to me that the monkey is a symbol for punishing someone completely innocent while letting the bad person go.

    The policeman is asking about a smoking gun. Why would he do that? Is the gun still smoking in his oppinion? Yes he seems to be corrupted, "He is asking about the facts".

    But who is the person described in the lyrics? It seems to me it is someone who has been overpowered
    jrrtolk1enon May 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI would think the song refers to Scooter Libby, the fall guy in the George W Bush administration's leakage of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby was the only member of the adminstration who was convicted of perjury among other things for his role in the leak and subsequently pardoned by President Bush.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    tka2013on September 12, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI don't believe this song is about Scooter Libby, tka2013 (though i don't know who, if anyone, it specifically refers to).

    "They're driving long nails into coffins"

    means they are smoking a lot of cigarettes (coffin nails). something you might do in a stressful office environment.

    "You've been having sleepless nights
    You've gone as quiet as a church mouse
    And checking on your rights"

    means what it says.

    "The boss has hung you out to dry
    And it looks as though
    Punish the monkey
    And let the organ grinder go"

    Your boss is going to let you take the blame for something. You (the monkey) are not the person in power. The boss (organ grinder) is going to get away with whatever wrong-doing was done.

    "you've been talking to a lawyer
    Are you gonna pretend
    That you and your employer
    Are still the best of friends"

    The executive who will probably be blamed is getting a lawyer. There will probably be a lawsuit, but nobody is admitting it yet.

    Here comes a policeman
    He won't be sidetracked
    He's asking 'bout a smoking gun
    He's after the bad

    "It's a quiet life from here on in
    You dropped your poisoned cup
    The telephone is ringing
    But you're not picking up"

    Should say "dropped your poison pill", which is also a corporate expression. Refers to effect of hostile takeover on the acquired company (stock options vest, that sort of thing - which is "poison" to the acquiring company). Hinting at more difficulties with keeping the job.
    jorbruon November 19, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTom Brady and coach= Organ Grinder - suspended equipment guys = Monkey.
    bruce12897on September 07, 2015   Link

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