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Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven - Lyrics Meaning

"Monkey Gone To Heaven" was a 1989 single from the alternative rock group Pixies. The song comes from the album "Doolittle" which was the band's first major label release in the U.S. Black Francis wrote the somewhat cryptic lyrics that have been broken down and analyzed by many. Black came up with the "this monkey's gone to heaven" hook before the music was composed. He stated that he put those particular words together so he wouldn't forget the tune that was playing in his head. He didn't plan on building a song around that lyric and likened it to Paul McCartney's remembering the tune of "Yesterday" with the words "scrambled eggs" in his head.

The band has previously claimed that the lyrics are intentionally odd, dreamlike and surreal. There have been references to the lyrics being meaningless. There are even some rumors that the song was originally titled "Junkie Gone To Heaven" until the label forced them to change it. This particular rumor has never been substantiated.

However, the lyrics do touch upon an environmental theme that is obvious to most Pixies fans. Black has expanded upon the environmentalism aspect of the lyrics in interviews. The lyrics make mention of man's destruction of our ocean and sky. You get the sense that Black is referring to humans as "monkeys" as acknowledgment of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Perhaps there is a message here that we may have evolved physically but are still ignorant and immature with our disrespect for the planet.

Pollution is referenced with the verse about the sludge from New York and New Jersey. Ozone depletion is referenced in the line about a "hole in the sky." The greenhouse effect is referenced in the line that say, "If the ground is not cold, everything is gonna burn."

One of the more notable sections of "Monkey Gone To Heaven" is the number part of the song where Black says:

"If man is five, then the Devil is six, and God is seven."

Black explained to Alternative Press that his brief understanding of Hebrew numerology inspired this part of the song. In Hebrew language, especially scriptures and the Bible, there are many references to man in the 5th (because man counts in fives and tens due to how many fingers we have), the Devil in the 6th (presumably from 666), and God in the 7th (seven is considered a heavenly number - God created the world in seven days).

While being a classic song in the realm of alternative rock, "Monkey Gone To Heaven" was not a mainstream hit. The song peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Modern Rock charts, undoubtedly fueled by college-radio airplay. It also spent three weeks in the U.K. charts, peaking at number 60. The song was named Melody Maker's number one Single of the Year in 1989. Rolling Stone magazine named it the 5th Best Single of 1989. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Monkey Gone To Heaven" at number 410 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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