There was a guy
An under water guy who controlled the sea
Got killed by ten million pounds of sludge
From New York and New Jersey

This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven

The creature in the sky
Got sucked in a hole
Now there's a hole in the sky

And the ground's not cold
And if the ground's not cold
Everything is gonna burn
We'll all take turns, I'll get mine too

This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven

Rock me Jo

If man is five, if man is five, if man is five
Then the devil is six, then the devil is six
The devil is six, the devil is six and if the devil is six
Then God is seven , then God is seven, the God is seven

This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven
This monkey's gone to Heaven

Lyrics submitted by numb, edited by McKean, gregory727, Wintceas

Monkey Gone to Heaven Lyrics as written by Charles Thompson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Monkey Gone to Heaven song meanings
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  • +13
    General Commentit's been said before, but not on this site seemingly, but this song seems to be about the ruinous effect on the environment of human pollution. Black Francis said that the inspiration for the song was a sense of anger at the destruction of the natural world, and this is clear from the lyrics...

    In the first verse some kind of underwater worker is killed by all the trash from N.Y and N.J being dumped in the sea. I think the line "this monkey's gone to heaven" refers to this fellow. Humans are 'monkeys' we evolved from them, and this one has died and gone to heaven.

    The second verse continues on a broader note, refering to the depletion of the ozone layer ("there's a hole in the sky") and the global warming consequences thereof ("everything's gonna burn...") this is everybody's problem: ("we'll all take turns") and now I think that the line about the monkey going to heaven instead refers to the singer dying due to the collapse of the earths environment.

    I've no idea how the final verse relates to this, although I like the interpretation given by tenniel above.
    zoton July 19, 2002   Link
  • +8
    My InterpretationWhen trying to figure out what Black Francis was talking about, it's important to erase your current knowledge and put yourself back in the late 80s. There are two environmental events specifically mentioned that were top issues at that time.

    The "10 million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey" refers to what became known as "Syringe Tide." Medical waste that was dumped illegally in the Atlantic and escaped from a landfill on Staten island. It then washed up all in various places around New York and New Jersey, particularly the Jersey Shore. A 50 mile slick made it way to NJ shore towns in the summers of 1997 and 1998, ruining both vacation seasons. Hypodermic needles, blood vials and discarded medicine was found among the debris.

    As for the Creature in the Sky verse, it refers only to the hole in the ozone layer. That hole, which was found in the stratosphere over the Antarctic, was confirmed in 1985. There was widespread awareness of the hole and the effect if it spread to populated areas. The ozone layer absorbs UVB ultraviolet light from the sun. The cause was CFCs, which reacted with the sun to deplete the ozone. Without the layer, life on earth would be impossible. After the hole was discovered, many feared it could not be reversed, and that life on earth was under threat. A worldwide CFC ban was enacted in 1987. The Antarctic hole still develops every spring, and atmopsheric ozone levels aren't expected to return to pre-1980 levels till as late as 2075.

    As for this verse also being a warning about climate change, back in the late 80s, the consensus on the threat posed by rising temperatures was just beginning to form. The possibility that carbon emissions could unnaturally raise the earth's temperatures was first discovered in 1896. It was not until 2001 that scientific debate on the existence of climate change and that it was caused by man ended. Knowledge of the threat posed by climate change in the late 80s was out there, but not widespread.
    dk50bon April 29, 2013   Link
  • +7
    General CommentFor a long time, I thought this song was about the death of religion as a way of explaining the world. The "underwater guy who controlled the sea" is clearly the Greek god Neptune. "got killed by 10 mllion pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey" seemed to me to be a metaphor for our modern society taking control of the Earth in such a way that we no longer have any use for superstition, myth and religion to comfort ourselves and explain things. "Hole in the sky" would be the void created by the removal of God, "the creature in the sky," from people's lives. Without any hope for the afterlife, everyone is screwed: "Everyone is gonna burn, we'll all take turns." Then the 5-6-7 verse is just a maniacal kind of mocking of the hierarchy of man, devil and god.

    The "monkey" could be the monkey that was on mankind's back for so many years, again, religion. Saying that the monkey is dead by saying it's "gone to heaven" could be another ironic way to mock the idea of religion and afterlife.

    But I may be overthinking this. The environmental interpretation makes plenty of sense, too.
    yowza_beanon December 04, 2004   Link
  • +6
    My Interpretationthis song is written in a biblical & social aspect.

    I believe the remark on the first line being written about Neptune is spot on, but what he was referencing was that we're no longer polytheists because all of our intelligent religion has lead us to another religion (that he thinks is garbage).
    The "hole in the sky" is heaven, he's trying to show how ridiculous the prospect is.
    The "ground's not cold" implies hell, which again is a sarcasm about "everything's gonna burn, we'll all take turns. I'll get mine too" (everyone burns in hell, right?)

    The line "if man is 5, then the devil is 6, then god is 7" is the implication that there are beings beyond us, which again is a sarcasm, that because we're 5 clearly evil is greater, but good is greater than that. the alliteration in the bible of the 6 being the number of the devil and 7 being the number of god is clear, it's to suggest that good is greater than evil in a very primitive sense.

    The obvious chorus "monkey gone to heaven" is a sarcasm which in itself alludes to evolution but suggests we still believe we're going to go to heaven.

    That's how I see it all anyway. :)
    nopointsurrenderon May 07, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think this is such a great song, and one of my favourite pixies songs. the number part is so cool - man is 5 cos we count in fives/tens cos of our fingers, the devil is 6 cos 666 is the number of the beast, and god is 7 cos that's the heavenly number (tons of 7s in revelation, world created in seven days etc etc). I <3 the pixies and I know someone who wants this song at his funeral - but I can't decide if this is great, or freaky?
    tennielon June 12, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFrancis said the verse 'This monkeys gone to heaven' was just some words he made up so he wouldn't forget the tune. He was originally planning out replacing it (like how Paul McCartney started with Scrambled Eggs and turned it into Yesterday) but he liked it so he kept it in.
    The number part is supposed to be from Hebrew scriptures. Some kind of hierarchy in the Hebrew religion.
    plosionon March 11, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentits Kaballah.

    5=the Pentagram

    the pentagram is the vehicle for making spiritual energy physical.
    we are pentagrams (head, arms, legs)

    thus man is 5, devil 6, the Eternal 7,
    that's basic numerology, ancient ideas really...
    darncaton February 11, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think it's about God leaving your life.

    Think about this:

    The creature in the sky
    Got sucked in a hole
    Now there's a hole in the sky

    Doesn't that sound like losing your faith in God?
    jedkcon January 30, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe last verse is a thing called numology where certain numbers turn up in certain parts of the bible like 40 days and 40 nights shit like that. But 7 is the holly number and 6 is the devil apparently. So man must be five half way between good and evil and setinent.
    craiguson March 29, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentah I just realised it could be that numerology is used as a metaphore to explane why man does this to the earth he lives on - amazing
    craiguson March 29, 2003   Link

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