Fire Coming out of a Monkey’s Head

Gorillaz is a virtual band created in 1998 by Damon Albarn of Britpop band Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the comic book Tank Girl. The band is composed of four animated band members: (from left to right): Russel (back), Noodle, 2D and Murdoc. Their style is broadly ‘alternative rock’, but with a large number of other influences. 

Dennis Hopper (May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010) is the narrator and an Academy Award-nominated American actor and film-maker. He is known primarily for playing nervy, slightly-unhinged characters, and is noted for roles in Blue Velvet, 24 and Easy Rider.

Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey’s Head from The Demon days GORILLAZ (2005)

Follow the lyrics bellow as you listen to the song

(Dennis Hopper):
Once upon a time at the foot of a great mountain, there was a town where the people known as Happyfolk lived, their very existance a mystery to the rest of the world, obscured as it was by grey clouds.

Here they played out their peaceful lives, innocent of the litany of excess and violence that was growing in the world below. To live in harmony with the spirit of the mountain called Monkey was enough.

Then one day Strangefolk arrived in the town. They came in camouflage, hidden behind dark glasses, but no one noticed them: they only saw shadows. You see, without the truth of the eyes, the Happyfolk were blind.

Fallin’ out of aeroplanes and hidin’ out in holes Waiting for the sunset to come, people growing old Jump back from behind them and shoot them in the head Now everybody’s dancing
the dance of the dead,
the dance of the dead,
the dance of the dead…

(Dennis Hopper):
In time, Strangefolk found their way into the higher reaches of the mountain, and it was there that they found the caves of unimaginable Sincerity and Beauty.

By chance, they stumbled upon the place where all good souls come to rest.

The Strangefolk, they coveted the jewels in these caves above all things, and soon they began to mine the mountain, its rich seam fueling the chaos of their own world.

Meanwhile, down in the town, the Happyfolk slept restlessly, their dreams invaded by shadowy figures digging away at their souls.

Every day, people would wake and stare at the mountain. Why was it bringing darkness into their lives?

And as the Strangefolk mined deeper and deeper into the mountain, holes began to appear, bringing with them a cold and bitter wind that chilled the very soul of them up. For the first time, the Happyfolk felt fearful for they knew that soon the Monkey would stir from its deep sleep.

And then came a sound. Distant first, it grew into castrophany so immense it could be heard far away in space.

There were no screams. There was no time. The mountain called Monkey had spoken.

There was only fire.

And then, nothing.

Oh little town in USA, the time has come to see There’s nothing you believe you want
But where were you when it all came down on me? Did you come it down on…

The task here is to try to decipher and decide what YOU think this song may be meaning. Use this form to send your answer in 150words (+/- 10%). Elements from the forum below may help you.

Some thoughts about the meaning of the lyrics of this song by various people who posted on the website.

by ClickForth on 04-16-2005 @ 04:15:07 AMI had a chance to hear this at a record store who had gotten a few vinyls from the band when they came into town, Dennis Hopper does a great job at narration. The track is nothing more than a pretty interesting story about a people living in a mountain.
by adamr on 04-16-2005 @ 10:16:14 AMIf you look a little deeper I think you’ll see it’s more than just a story…
by issgonrain on 04-17-2005 @ 03:30:51 PMOne of my favorite songs on the new album.

The last little bit always seems a bit out of place.
by TEC on 04-27-2005 @ 06:04:31 PMI really like this song but, what the hell is a “castrophany”? Did they make that word up?
by JeffKaos71 on 05-21-2005 @ 11:36:28 AMsounds to me like a combo of catastrophe + cacophony
by RTBRAND1 on 05-24-2005 @ 04:08:59 PMThis is an EXTREMELY well put together narrative. Here is my take on it:

To me this song seems like the idealistic fantasies that we all have. In essence we either all want to be Happyfolk or we feel like we already are. The Strangefolk represent reality, in that, there’s always going to be someone or something that comes along to ruin happiness for everyone else.

The Happyfolk were innocent and completely blind to the evil the Strangefolk brought b/c they couldn’t see their eyes. This is a lot like life itself in that we often can’t see when bad things are going to happen even if we have multiple signs (shadows, nightmares, etc.). Its that whole “ignorance is bliss” concept, only amplified.

Ultimately greed leads to the downfall of mankind, and that’s why in digging for the precious jewels, the Strangefolk woke the spirit of the mountain.

There are two ways to interpret the mountain (IMO). You could say that it has always been just a volcano that became active once disturbed, or that there is some true spiritual meaning behind it, in that God punishes those who are evil. But unfortunately, the Happyfolk were caught up in all this, just b/c they couldn’t see the eyes of the Strangefolk…

As depressing as it is, I think this song may just be saying, there never can nor will be a land of Happyfolk b/c Strangefolk will always come to inevitably destroy it.

“Oh little town in USA, the time has come to see
There’s nothing you believe you want
But where were you when it all came down on me?
Did you come it down on…”

I can’t be sure about this last line, but I think it’s a statement about the U.S. and how we as Americans may feel we have it all over here, but then again we do so little to help foreign nations (Although I don’t really agree with that). Or maybe, just maybe, 2-D is saying that Americans are the Strangefolk and somehow this song ties back to our going to war b/c of 9/11, and the “mining for gems” being one big metaphor for us “digging for oil”.

Also I agree with JeffKaos71 in that castrophony is just catastrophe and cacophony mixed together. While it is indeed a made up word, I think it really works well with the song and gives a more powerful description of the noise and the chaos. For those of you who don’t know, a cacophony is a “harsh discordant sound, or a very loud noise, or group of noises.”
by Vertigo22 on 05-26-2005 @ 07:03:52 AMWay to analyze, RTBRAND1…I think you got it right on.
by Tamuz on 06-05-2005 @ 03:45:19 AMI just want to take a note on the actual construct of the song, rather than the lyrics. The lyrics themselves speak very well, and you can construct your own thoughts on it with ease if you read them (as opposed to listening). Whether you chooes to tie the lyrics to certain political events or not is your own choice.

Anyway, as I was going to say, notice the hymnic humming in the backround of the narrative. The artists could have just as easily used a instrument (cello) for this, but instead they choose to hum. This parallels with hymns–such as amazing grace– which were written by slaves. This tought is incomplete but I wanted to pose the idea of tieing a sort of enslavement into this song, whether it be the happy people enslaved to their perceptions of the strange people to their greed, I don’t exactly know… But there sure as hell is some bit of slavery in this
by Tamuz on 06-05-2005 @ 07:54:11 AMcaves of Sincerity and Beauty

The disjointing and capitalization… Beauty makes sensish… but Sincerity? The Strange folk find the truth, but they go out of their way and toil to bring this truth into their lives. Meaning, regardless of the evil of Truth, the strange accept it into their lives, welcome and force it in. Yet, when you delve too far into the seriousness involved in the True world, it’ll wipe over you and make you a serious dull drab BLEH without an outcry against it

Just shooting my fingers a bit more
by aebassist on 06-19-2005 @ 07:28:10 PMI think what the story is trying to show is how the average Americans (and I only say American because of the little town USA line, it can also hold true for most of the world) just goes about there lives thinking everything is ok, but they don’t realize that very bad things are happening in the world. The Strangefolk, I believe, are the powerful minortity (government officials, corporations) that aim to become richer and more powerful at the expense of the rest of us. As Happyfolk, we don’t always see what the elite are doing, but eventually things will blow up, either environmentally or through a revolution, and its going to destroy us all.

And by the way, Dennis Hopper was perfect for this song.
by eris13 on 06-23-2005 @ 09:09:47 PMOne of my favorites on the album, but I couldn’t help noticing a thematic similarity to One Tin Soldier.
by thenorm2211 on 06-30-2005 @ 08:56:10 PMReminds me of a quote from The Catcher In The Rye.
I think it goes something like:
‘You can never find a place that’s nice and peaceful because there isn’t any…”

Just seems to fit….