It has been a long time since I have taken a good long look at a song’s lyrics and tried to figure out what the heck it is about. Now, when I started doing this, I asked people to give song suggestions. I’m still moving through those original one, but am open to getting others. One song that was mentioned was “Dirty Great Monster” off the Red Carpet Massacre album. Now, this isn’t a song that has gotten much attention ever. It wasn’t one of the songs Timbaland was involved with and it wasn’t a single. It wasn’t played live except for those Broadway shows, in which the entire album was played. I don’t have much of a connection with it, but I was super fortunate to see it on Broadway as they had the most amazing visuals for this song. Frankly, I’m still sad that we won’t get to see those again as they were worth the price of admission, for sure. I did find one clip that showed some of those visuals, but nothing beat seeing them in person.
So, what about the lyrics to this song?
There’s a dirty great monster in this house
We pretend that it’s not there
And there’s no escape from its grip
But nobody seems to care
Do you ever wonder
About the days when we were straight?
But daddy got the hunger
So much to hide, we learn to lie
So watch yourself in the hallway
You’re not supposed to know
‘Cause we’re all afraid of each other
We’re the victims in this show
Well, do you ever wonder
About the days when we were straight?
When daddy got the hunger
Too much to hide, we learn to lie
We made mistakes when we were straight
Now we’re all going under
Oh, oh, so with a sigh we say goodbye
So, what does the song mean? Interestingly enough, it was the topic of an Ask Katy question in July 2008. Simon stated, “The truth is that “Dirty GREAT Monster” is about someone close to my extended family, I am really not at liberty to be any more specific than that.” You can read the full question and answer here. This leads everyone to assume that Simon is talking about family abuse, specifically, perhaps, sexual abuse of a father to a child with the line about “daddy got the hunger”.
While this domestic abuse, possible sexual abuse, theory is one that is often accepted, I have seen other interpretations. One theory I saw was that it was about the situation with Andy. Lines like how there is “no escape” and that you have “hide” and “lie” could imply a lot of situations, including the one with Andy, especially as things were not going well within the inner circle but the band had to publicly say that everything was great. Thinking about it that way, could the song also be about the music business? Could Daddy be the business? Maybe, it is, more specifically, their record label at the time, hungry for the money from record sales. Everyone sort of ignores the demands and how those demands make artists “lie” and “hide”. Maybe, they even force bands to work with producers they don’t want to work with and make albums that they aren’t them. The last verse is particularly interesting in light of this theory. Could it be the band was outnumbered by the powers that be? Could those mistakes have been past albums that were made with more independence but didn’t live up to anyone’s standards? I can’t imagine that life in Duran camp was that great in 2007. It could have felt like they were “going under”. Say goodbye could be a reference to Andy. It could also be about saying goodbye to a major label and those days of commercial success. It could also be goodbye to artistic integrity.
Yes, this song is one of those songs that seems very obviously about something on the surface but could really be about something else. What do you think? Which theory makes the most sense or do you have a different theory?
P.S. Do let me know if you have other songs you want me to look at!