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IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS
THE WORD
The Comprehensive Lyrics

Compiled by Mike Fornatale
Commentary by Will Shade

A study of the lyrical progression from The Torquays to The Monks speaks volumes, encapsulating the entirety of rock n roll. From the charming naivete of 50s love songs to post-modern nihilistic diatribes, this one group straddles the pop world like a miniature colossus. With one foot planted firmly in the past and the other irrevocably in the present, The Monksí lyrics are as important as the uberbeat music they devised.

While the lyrics to The Torquaysí There She Walks reek of cliche, the actual song structure itself is quite interesting. The arrangement and changes lift this above the majority of beat songs from the period, indicating that a rapid progression was imminent within the group itself. But thatís beside the point. These early lyrics strike one simply as jejune.

 

As The Torquays

 

Lyrics from The Torquaysí sole single (recorded late 1964).
All tracks written by Gary Burger and David Havlicek

There She Walks *

There she walks,
With a walk so sweet.
I never knew,
I, could, be true.
Until I met,
A girl, a girl, like you.
Now I'm runnin' instead of walkin',
And I'm runnin' after you, you, you.
There she walks,
With a walk so sweet.
I never knew, I, could, be true.
Until I met,
A girl, a girl, like you.
Now I'm runnin' instead of walkin',
And I'm runnin' after you, you, you.
Sometimes I wonder,
Sometimes I try
Sometimes I think I'm gonna die
There she walks,
With a walk so sweet.
I never knew I could be true.
Until I met a girl like you.
Now I'm runnin' instead of walkin',
And I'm runnin' after you, you, you.
Yeah! Kissin' time!

* songs so marked are now available on the Omplatten release FIVE UPSTART AMERICANS (released November, 1999).

 

Boys Are Boys *

Boys are boys and girls are joys
To you and me theyíre more than toys.
Gonna find one so I wonít be lonely,
Sheíll be mine forever only
And when I do itíll be alright.

 

As The Monks

With some exceptions, rock n roll lyrics are not complex poetry. Further, when they appear in black and white on a page separated from the music, they can strike one as being beyond simplisitc. The Monksí lyrics are absurdly minimalist, bordering on the idiot savant.

From day one, The Monks pursued innovation; be it in their appearance, their music, or their lyrics. Mind you, they did not always succeed. The members themselves rarely agreed what did and did not constitute a proper Monks song.

The first Monks songs were recorded in Ludwigsburg in 1965. Most of them did appear later on the immortal BLACK MONK TIME, but two didnít make the cut. One of these was Pretty Suzanne, which had been in the bandís repertoire for a couple of years.

"That songís basically a jam with words to give it some form," Gary Burger said.

Eddie Shaw, on the other hand, feels that this tune is the embodiment of the bandís aesthetic philosophy.

"It was the most monkish tune we had. It was so stripped down, a few monks couldn't deal with it," he commented.

The band still performed said number live throughout their career, but it was not etched in vinyl. The same held true with Hushie Pushie, another song that remained part of their live set.

Lyrics from two of the Ludwigsburg demos (recorded mid-1965). All tracks written by Gary Burger/Larry Spangler/David Havlicek/Roger Johnston/Thomas Shaw

Pretty Suzanne *

Oh, oh, pretty Suzanne!
Oh, pretty Suzanne.

Hushie Pushie *

Hushie Pushie, Hushie Pushie,
Awwwwwww!
Hushie Pushie, Hushie Pushie,
Where are you Hushie?
Where are you Hushie?
We monks mean what we say!
Hushie Pushie,
Where are you little cat?
Oh, there you are!
Címon!

Along with the uberbeat, The Monksí lyrical content was an experimental concept. The bandís management encouraged the songwriters to comment on everything from the Cold War to rock 'n' rollís more traditional subject matter; albeit with a twist (I Hate You is a love song of profound proportions).

The Monks purposefully whittled their lyrics down to a bare minimum. As an American group playing for a European audience, they hoped to communicate their ideas by repeating key phrases ad infinitum. Occasionally, it was a quasi-political message (Complication.) Other times it was a surrealistic exercise in nonsense that seems to have no meaning as evidenced on Oh, How To Do Now, where the title phrase is sung 47 times throughout the course of the song.

"Repetition and simplicity,Ē Eddie Shaw said. "We wanted to drive the point home with a minimum of words, stripping the songs down to their bare essence. With a German audience, we felt the fewer lyrics the better.Ē

That was the theory at least. Lynn Burger, Garyís Swedish ex-wife, commented on the this specific point. Although she saw the band dozens of times, she was not an actual member and is able to offer an outside point of view.

"Iím not sure if it really worked that way. The majority of the people who saw them in the 60s didnít speak English at all. Keeping the lyrics simple probably didnít matter. Nobody knew what they were singing about, period. Especially since their sound was so loud and brutal. The music probably overwhelmed the message," she said.

Of course, the educated Germans did understand the lyrics and examined them at great depth. This was especially true of the intellectuals and the media.

"Many Germans knew what we were singing about. That's why many people, including the press and a famous professor, wanted to talk to us about it," Shaw stated.

Regardless, the majority of the young people who did attend Monks shows probably were less concerned with the political situation than sartorial matters. They were surrounded by grim reality and did not wish to be reminded of graver matters during their socializing.

"We young girls weren't concerned about the Cold War or nuclear bombs. We were only interested in the latest hairstyles and make-up," Lynn Burger said.

Gary Burger, of course, takes a direct approach.

"The Monks' use of repetition was part of our attempt to drive home the language, be the listener German, English or Tibetan. But repetition wasn't done for repetiton's sake but because it was The Monk style," he commented.

Some of The Monksí lyrics anticipated the anti-social rants of punk by a good decade. For the most part, the lyrical arrangements themselves are gloriously free of traditional verse-chorus progression. Instead, it reads like deranged free verse.

Lyrics from the album BLACK MONK TIME (recorded November, 1965). All tracks written by Gary Burger/Larry Spangler/David Havlicek/Roger Johnston/Thomas Shaw

Monk Time

Alright, my name's Gary.
Let's go, it's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!
You know we don't like the army.
What army?
Who cares what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?
Mad Viet Cong.
My brother died in Vietnam!
James Bond, who was he?
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it!
It's too loud for my ears.
Pussy galore's comin' down and we like it.
We donít like the atomic bomb.
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it . . . stop it!
What's your meaning Larry?
Ahh, you think like I think!
You're a monk, I'm a monk, we're all monks!
Dave, Larry, Eddie, Roger, everybody, let's go!
It's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!

 

Eddie and his bass Shut Up

Got a reason to laugh,
Got a reason to cry.
Believing you're wise,
And being so dumb.

World is so worried,
World is so worried.
Be a liar everywhere,
Shut up, don't cry!

 

Boys Are Boys

Boys are boys and girls are joys
To you and me they're more than toys.
Gonna find one so I won't be lonely,
She'll be mine forever only
And when I do it'll be alright.

 

Higgle-dy Piggle-dy

Higgle-dy Piggle-dy
Way down to heaven,
Yeah!

 

I Hate You

Hey, well, I hate you with a passion baby, yeah I do!
(But call me!)
Well you know my hate's everlasting baby, yeah, yeah!
(But call me!)
Do you, do you, do you know why I hate you baby, do you now?
(But call me!)
Well, it's because you make me hate you baby, yeah you do now.
(But call me!)

Well I hate you baby with a passion, yeah, you know I do.
(But call me!)
Oh, you know my hate's everlasting baby yeah, yeah, yeah.
(But call me!)
Oh you know you know what I hate you baby, huh? Do you?
(But call me!)
Oh it's because you make me hate you baby yeah yeah yeah
(But call me!)
Well, alright.

 

Oh, How To Do Now

Oh, how to do now.
Well, I been waiting a long long long time.
Well, I'm gonna make you you you you mine.
Well, I don't know how how how how to say.
Well, I'm gonna make you you you you mine today.
Well, I don't know how how how how to do.
Hey girl, I'm gonna put the make make make on you.
Well, that will do that will do that will do.
Make you mine, long long time today.
Oh, how to do now.

 

Complication

Complication,
Complication,
Complication,
Constipation!
People cry,
People die for you.
People kill,
People will for you.
People run,
Ain't it fun for you.
People go
To their deaths for you.
Complication!

 

We Do Wie Du

Hey, hey, what are you gonna say?
You know we're all gonna make love today.
Yay, yay, yay, yay!
We do as you, we do,
We do, wie du, wie du.
Won't you come with me today?
Hey girl, I'm gonna stay today
And there's nothing,
Nothing you can say.

 

Drunken Maria

Sleepy Maria, Don't drink!
Drunken Maria, Don't sleep!

 

Love Came Tumbliní Down

Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Love came tumblin' down.
Whoa whoa whoa
I'm not so glad I found
Someone to love me.
When you left you took my love
But I guess I'll never learn
In your arms I must return.
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
I wanted you before.
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
I didn't know what was in store.
Your love came tumblin' down.

 

Blast Off

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Blast off!

 

 

Thatís My Girl

Hey, fella,
What you doin' with that girl over there?
Well, that's a nice girl you got,
She sure looks good.
I bet you're gonna make love with her, huh?
Aren'tcha?
Yeah, that's a nice girl you got,
Hawwww!
Well, I bet you are gonna make love with her.
Well, that's a good lookin' girl you got fella!
Hey, haven't I seen her somewhere before?
She sure looks familiar,
I can't . . . uh . . . let me see, uh . . .
That's a nice girl!
Wait, that . . . that's my girl you got!
You can't have my girl!
That's my girl!
Nobody can have my girl, she's my girl!
Aw, you quit that! No!

BLACK MONK TIME was an anomaly, even for The Monks. The cold nihilistic perfection, gleaming like a diamond bullet, seemed too much to bear even for the inventors of uberbeat. Subsequently, The Monks capitulated to internal and external pressures, questing for a pop hit. Even with this starcrossed decision, strange fruit was brought to bloom.

Lyrics from the last two singles (1966 and 1967). All tracks written by Gary Burger/Larry Spangler/David Havlicek/Roger Johnston/Thomas Shaw

 

I Canít Get Over You

I can't get over you - I canít hide from you
Said you loved me but you're puttin' me down
Now you're out runnin' all over town
Said that you loved, know that you lied
I can't get over you - I canít hide from you
I gave you the chance to show you were true
Now it's all over, yeah, you blew your cool . . .
Said that you loved, know that you lied.
I can't get over you - I canít hide from you
I gave you the chance to show you were true
Now it's all over, yeah, you blew your cool . . .
Said that you loved, know that you lied
I can't get over you

 

Cuckoo

Cuckoo, cuckoo,
Who's got the cuckoo?
Now someone stole my cuckoo,
And I wanna know who who
Did you take my . . .

Now someone thinks I'm a fool!
Who's got it, who who?
Have you got my . . .

Now if you ain't got my cuckoo,
Who are you, who who?
Hey, you're my cuckoo!

Cuckoo occupies a special place in their career. The Monks have had a love/hate relationship with this song for 35 years. They cut the song in hopes of securing a hit. That in itself is a ludicrously psychedelic thought. Was the band so isolated in Germany and cut off from conventions of the pop world that they thought this song would constitute commercial music?

Regardless, they have since come to regret the recording. Gary Burger himself has referred to the song as a "dogís ass." However, theyíve been forced to reassess their opinion once again when the song turned out to be an obvious crowd-pleaser at their 1999 Cavestomp appearance.

Not so the A & B sides of the last single in 1967. From the music to the lyrics, The Monks were dead in the water. By far their most pedestrian (if a tad bizarre) efforts, these two songs were the final nails in the coffin. Of course, if Brian Wilson or Arthur Lee had written them they'd probably be considered quirky classics. They are definitely not part of the accepted Monks canon. However, they are still an experiment albeit one that went horribly wrong.

"They make me cringe," Eddie Shaw said. "Love Can Tame The Wild is a silly turd of a song."

Gary Burger agreed wholly.

"There were pressures on The Monks to record this stuff, " he said. "But whenever Iím forced to hear it I find myself leaving for another destination very quickly. Turns my stomach! "

Love Can Tame The Wild

Thru the years, smiles and tears
Live as one will come a son
Love's a thing that loves to sing
Love can tame the wild

Man canít cry like I try
Tears don't bring, how they sting
Know your touch, love so much
Love can tame the wild

Do you know the taste of silver moonlight?

Soft and blue, I'll kiss you
So much glory not the story
Roar of star, it's so far
Love can tame the wild

Thru the years, smiles and tears
Live as one will come a son
Love's a thing that loves to sing
Love can tame the wild

Do you know the taste of silver moonlight?

Love can tame the wild

 

He Went Down To The Sea

He winked an eye and the sun went out
He winked another and the stars came out
He drew his breath and the wind blew soft
And then he went down to the sea
And then he went down to the sea

He threw a rock and the seagulls soared
He touched another and the oceans roared
He traced a name there in the sand
And thought of the girl that used to be
And thought of the girl that used to be

He plucked a rose and he held it high
He brushed its beauty on the sky
He held it close to taste the red
But like his love, the rose was dead

The wind blew cold and he drew his breath
The cold wind told him the secret of death
He whispered a name to the faint starlight
And turned and walked into the night
And turned and walked into the night
And then he went down to the sea
And thought of the girl that used to be
But like his love, the rose was dead

The lyrics were a step backward, bringing the group full circle and returning them to a slightly warped Tin Pan Alley. The last single went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Not that this mattered. Roger Johnston, exhausted after four years of the rock 'n' roll wars, fled Europe for the illusory safety of the United States.

Johnston has taken some flack for his decision to quit the group, thereby scuttling it. However, hindsight proves this to have been the best possible ending. In conjunction with the musicís sudden conventionality , the band was wearing colorful clothing and growing out their tonsures. At this rate, The Monks would have ended up as a third-rate Bee Gees, not the Sole Proprietors of Uberbeat.

1999ís Cavestomp found The Monks trotting out their old warhorses, with most of them in remarkably fine tether. Lyric-wise everything was the same save for minor variations--mainly improvised--on Monk Time, Pretty Suzanne and Thatís My Girl.

While age had mellowed the rock 'n' roll warriors somewhat, what does and does not constitute a Monks song still caused disagreement. Instead of engendering youthful schisms that couldnít be bridged, however, these tensions were celebrated and joked about onstage.

In particular, 34 years later after its first recording, the lyrics to Pretty Suzanne reared their ugly head once again.

"The phrase 'why don't you love me?' was added to give comfort to a couple of monks, but then again those words were deleted when recorded it in 1965. Our original managers claimed we ruined a perfectly good song by adding that 'love' piece of shit - 'why don't you love me.' This 'safe' version was never played until Cavestomp," Eddie Shaw said. "And [even] then we had a discussion in practice. I didn't like that version, then, when it got rejected and I still don't. It's hard for some of the monks to play monk music without flinching. It's easier to be safe by putting in 'love' shit."

Of course, thatís the beauty of Monk music--five guys who couldnít agree on anything were able to fashion a handful of perfect songs that continue to fascinate listeners decades after their inception.

Lyrics from the album LETíS START A BEAT! (recorded November, 1999). All tracks written by Gary Burger/Larry Spangler/David Havlicek/Roger Johnston/Thomas Shaw

Monk Time

Alright, my name's Gary!
It's beat time, it's hop time, it's Monk time now!
You know we don't like the army! WHAT army?
Who CARES what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there?
MAN! What are we doing in New York? Who knows?
We haven't been ANYWHERE in 30 years
and all of a sudden we're here.
James Bond, who was he? JAMES BOND?
Aw, STOP that!
Sucks.
Pussy Galore's comin' down and we like it.
We don't like the atomic bomb.
Stop that, stop it! I don't like it!
It's too loud for my ears.
Dave, Eddie, Larry, Roger, everybody.....
Mike! We got a Son-of-a-Monk here.
He's gonna help me out tonight,
hope you don't mind.
Bronchitis, you know.
Let's go. It's beat time, it's hop time,
It's monk time now, yeah!

 

Pretty Suzanne

Please, please love me - why donít you love me?
Please, please love me - why donít you love me?
Oh, oh, pretty Suzanne!
Oh, pretty Suzanne.

 

Thatís My Girl

That one, that one, that one!
Hey fella, what you doin' with that girl way over there, huh?
What're you doin'?
I bet you gonna make LOOOOVE with her, aren'tcha?
She looks kinda familiar--
I wish there were more lights on in here!
Y'know if I could see a little better then I'd KNOW who she was.
She blond, I can tell she's a blonde.
You meet her at Charlie's?
Charlie's always has lotsa blondes around.
Charlie's a good guy, But YOU pretty ugly!
You got a big flat nose
And your eyes.....your eyes are crossed,
how'd you ever find a girl that good looking??
Well, I know I've seen her somewhere before.
I gotta find her.
Y'know I'm gonna ask Chuck to turn those lights up so I can see her.
I wanna see what she looks like. I LOVE blondes!
I just LOVE blondes. I love brunettes too.
Don't you brunettes be unhappy.
But blondes....that goes right to my heart.
Hey Chuck, turn them lights on. Turn 'em on.
Hey, thanks Chuck. Now I can see her. She looks....
Well, that's MY girl you got over there!
You can't have my girl! That's MY girl!
You keep your hands off my girl!
You get away from her!
NOOOOOOOOO!
Lost the war.

 

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