>The word monkey in Dylan songs: >BUCKETS OF RAIN > "I AIN'T NO MONKEY BUT I KNOW WHAT I LIKE." >JET PILOT > "SHE'S FIVE FEET NINE AND SHE CARRIES A MONKEY WRENCH." >ANGELINA > "WHERE THE CURRENT IS STRONG AND THE MONKEY DANCES" >BOB DYLAN'S NEW ORLEANS RAG > "And he looked like he'd been through A MONKEY WRENCH." >I SHALL BE FREE NO. 10 > "WELL, I SET MY MONKEY ON THE LOG" > "HE'S A WEIRD MONKEY, VERY FUNKY." >ON THE ROAD AGAIN > "WELL, I GO TO PET YOUR MONKEY"
"The notion of the 'prurient ape' (...) was one of the most cherished pieces of popular animal lore. A visit ti the monkey cages in a zoological garden suggests how apt man is to view the sexual life of his fellow primates with some measure of empathy (...)."
As early as c. 1300, the concept of Courtly Love was already mocked "with the lusty ape usurping the place of the knight in a fanciful realm peopled by wild men, unicorns, and fair ladies."
The mirror-gazing ape is a metaphor for 'the prisoner of love'.
A picture exists of a girl caressing her persuitor with one hand and emptiying his purse with the other. An ape in the background "brands the youth as a vain fool deprived of all elementary foresight by his amorous desire." This constitutes "a reflection on the nature of women in general [in late Gothic Art]". The ape becomes a symbol of female sensuality, not necessarily restricted to prostitutes, though. The ape (female) and bear (male) team up.
Any references to bears in Dylan's lyrics?
Far older than the identifying of apes with female sexuality is the identifying with male sexuality. "It rests on the belief that the males of certain species of large simians will attempt to rape human females whenever given the opportunity." This notion did exist in the Near East (1000 nights and a night).
"... the legendary potency of the male ape seems to have held a moch more important place in the sexual folklore of sixteenth century Europe than it had before." John Donne wrote about the ape playing the role of human lover. (He also mentions the sparrow as the symbol of unbridled carnal lust, so we are tempted here to conclude that Dylan did not get his ideas about monkeys from Donne if we connect here to Every Grain of Sand).
Needless to say, the sexual connotations of apes are only part of the story. They are also affiliated with the devil, sin and the fall of man (m/f?).
The information above was found in and citations taken from Apes and ape lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance / H.W. Janson. - London : Warburg Institute University of London, 1952. Chapter IX, the Sexuality of Apes, p. 261-287.
EDLIS Assistant Bibliographical Agent