Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Monkey and the Plywood Violin

I was listening to "First we take Manhatten" by Leonard Cohen on the way home from work today. I got to wondering: What exactly did he plan to do with the "Monkey and the Plywood violin" that he receives during the song? I'm sure you've all wondered the same thing at one point or another.

What follows is my best theory on the matter. First, as with any good theory, some assumptions:
1. The monkey is alive. And it is a chimp. Not the most intelligent chimp on this Earth, but still quite a good one - about the intelligence level of your average three year old human.
2. The plywood violin is a replica violin. Although it can be played, the sound that emerges is awful. Similar to the noise that a three year old human might make whilst playing a real violin.
3. These are the only special items needed for the plan. Other non-special items (string, paperclips, marbles etc) are just lying around to be used if needed.

So now the plan... Clearly Leonard is not going to take the whole of Manhatten with just these two items - and hence he won't get Berlin either. In fact the monkey and violin will be used for just one small part of the plan, which involves him sneaking into a bar in Lower Manhatten and taking that over (please don't ask why, it's far too complex to explain here).

Leonard stands just outside the bar, pretending to be a busker playing the violin (shan't mention the bar's name here, to avoid others copying the scheme). The chimp is waiting around the corner. At Leonard's signal, the chimp dashes round the corner, leaps up, graps the violin and bow and runs off up the street. Leonard runs into the bar and shouts "Help everyone! A chimp has stolen my violin". The bar patrons and owner are shocked by this and realised they must help. All run out, and chase the monkey.

The bar is now empty, Leonard sneaks in and closes and bolts the door. He is safe and it is left to the monkey to finish of the rest of the plan.

Since the chimp is relatively agile, he is able to dismantle the violin whilst running. Painted on the inside is a sign saying "I'm a really cute monkey: Please play with me." The patrons and owner cannot resist this suggestion and they all sit on the street and start playing with the monkey. But little beknownst to them, the chimpy isn't cute at all! He just looks cute! Actually he's evil and murderous. The other parts of the violin he has formed into little wooden spikes.

He pushes these, lightning fast, through the windpipes of everyone nearby (bar owner first), killing them all gurglingly. The monkey then stabs himself non fatally in an arm and lies on the floor. Eventually a passerby comes past, sees the devastation and the injured monkey, and also the sign. Clearly the monkey cannot be the killer and so the passerby assumes it was a bad man who had done the nastiness and run off. The chimp looks so cute that the man takes him to a monkey-vet where the a full recovery is made.

Some days later the chimp returns to Leonard's Bar (recently rechristened) and both have a tearful reunion. For the final part of this section of the plan, Leonard Cohen kills, peels and eats the chimp because the chimp is evil and is also the only evidence of what really happened. The Bar is successfully taken. Now onto the rest of Manhatten....

So now you know what the song was on about, and don't need to go searching on the webbyweb for it if you ever start questioning the lyrics in the future.


Sarum said...

Someone take away Lints sugar, alcohol, and any anti-depressants or other mind-altering drugs he may be taking. I think my mind is forever scarred from reading that.

Lint said...

Sorry, I'd not had any alcohol, anti-depressents, depressents, other drugs, caffiene or skinned monkeys at the time of writing. I did have a can of coke at lunchtime...

Daniel2024 said...

This Song is about how the Son of God will travel across the wporld and bring his children home. He is awakening from a time of 20 years in exile, and he is returning. The beauty of OUR weopons is Love. Also the woman of God who will serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ. He is also the man of energy cohen speaks of and he is now safe again in heaven. Greetings from the other side. Though you all may want to know. Also in The Future he states it is over and it is not going any further. He will some day very soon begin his ministry by traveling on the ship spoken of in Democracy.


mick10 said...

The Monkey and The Plywood Violin is a painting..now valued at millions of dollars....the song is about touring with his band...first they are going to take Manhattan proberly Madison Square Garden...and the beauty of our weapons refers to the band intruments...on his recent tour Leonard points to the band instruments when he sings this line.

Max said...

The narrator is being sarcastic. When he was in exile/prison, the person he is singing to sent him some insultingly cheap and pathetic gifts -- a monkey (probably a stuffed animal) and a plywood violin.

But against the odds, he practiced every night with that flimsy, junky violin, and now is ready to show that he's become a virtuoso.

Leonard's cold laugh between the 1st and 2nd stanzas here is classic.

limikael said...

Is Berlin going to be taken in the same way as Manhattan? In that case I see a potential flaw as the sign needs to be translates and the translator might find out what is going on. Just pointing this out in case Leonard missed this detail. Hope this helps.

Lisa D said...

Perhaps you should eat copious amounts of sugar, take a shit load of mind altering substances wash it all down with gallons of alcohol. Then climb the Himalays and be at one 'With a monkey and a plywood violin'!

David Carr said...

Taking Manhattan is a reference to the Manhattan Project; first, the Jews would enact a MAD defense. Taking Berlin alludes to absorbing Jesus' flock, ie accepting the Orphan Tribe as fellow Jews.

The monkey is evolution theory, the plywood violin alludes to the concept of low cost training tools. Two of the most useful innovations the West has come up with, from a Judaic perspective.