'Tweeter and the Monkey Man' was originally released in 1988. It was a part of the album 'Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1', and credit is given to all the members of the band for the writing...
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 rackateer 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

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

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 bed said "There's someplace I gotta go"
She took a gun out of the drawer and said "It's best if you dont' 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"

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 to 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

Lyrics submitted by Dorthonion

Tweeter And The Monkey Man song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe best of all the Wilburys' songs. Just a good old fashioned ballad about crime and punishment. One thing has always confused me, though - is Tweeter a transsexual or something? They say he was a boy scout, and went to Vietnam, but they also say "she"; and I don't understand the line "I'm not fooled by Tweeter's curl (?) I knew HIM long before HE ever became a Jersey GIRL." Did he have a sex change, like in Dog Day Afternoon? I don't know.
    Anyway, great song.
    Kafzielon June 19, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've never heard someone sing a Dylan song better than Dylan.
    Mr. Blue Skyon July 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment(Me and my friends listened to this song all day every day for years and drank beer with a psssion . We analyzed the lyrics for years and still wonder about this , who actually wrote this song?
    Flag muletrainhoeon January 04, 2010)

    I would definitely say BOB DYLAN,
    Classic Dylan storytelling, (This song especially reminds me "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts")
    Ricortizon August 28, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell it's obviously about running away from the authorities and a caper gone bad...quite an excellent song and if you don't have the rock version by the Headstones get it now!
    babytexon April 16, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is a Bruce Springsteen parody/pastiche, done in the style of Bruce's crime epics and the lyrics allude to over a half-dozen Springsteen songs (Thunder Road, Born to Run, Mansion on the Hill, etc.)
    DJacques75on October 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat crime ballad epic. And yes, Tweeter is a tranny.
    bkat004on January 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Headstones version of this song is way better than the Travelling Wilburys.
    jcool_caon May 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs for the parody of Springsteen, the whole thing is obviously tongue in cheek, but at the same time, there's an air of acknowledgement on Dylan's part toward the Boss. It seems like more of a friendly ribbing from Dylan than anything else. I like that, because I lile Bob Dylan and I like the Boss.

    As for the Headstones version being better, I've never heard it, but it certainly wouldn't be the first time someone sang a Dylan song better than Bob Dylan.
    twollamaloveon February 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love Bob's raw voice too Mr Blue Sky, but the easiest example is All Along the Watchtower. You can't look me straight in the eye and tell me the Dylan version is better. Anyway, it was more of a joke. I wouldn't change a thing about Bob Dylan's voice.
    twollamaloveon August 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI am sorry, but the Headstones version is just plain god awful! The original has this dark coolness about it, but this headstones version sounds like a piss-take, Weird Al parody on crack. It just ruins absolutely any organic expression from out the song.
    bugoffon August 11, 2007   Link

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