Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business

Love the Chuck’s bright guitar intro! Chuck is the father of rock and roll guitar. Everything comes from him. Rockabilly, pop, rock, hard rock, and heavy metal…Chuck is at the core.

The guitar influence he has over rock music is obvious but his rock and roll poetry shouldn’t be forgotten either. While Keith Richards was listening to his guitar closely…Bob Dylan was also listening to his poetry about life.

Too Much Monkey Business was released in September 1956 as the B-side of Brown Eyed Handsome Man. I love how Chuck spits out the lyrics to this song. Bob Dylan did something simiiar on Subterranean Homesick Blues a little later in the sixties.

Berry made up a word in this song, singing, “I don’t want your botheration.” This wasn’t the first time he used his own language: In Maybellene he sings about motorvating.

Too Much Monkey Business peaked at #9 in the Hot Billboard 100, #4 in the US R&B Charts, and #36 in the UK in 1956.

It’s incredible when you look at the output of Chuck Berry in the 50s.

From Songfacts

ย In his comprehensive Berry-ography Long Distance Information: Chuck Berry’s Recorded Legacy, Berry fan Fred Rothwell says this is a song about “the everyday hassles of the average working stiff” and asks, “Who but Chuck Berry would consider writing about such an everyday irritant as losing change in a payphone, and who else would do it so succinctly…”

This echoes Berry’s sentiments; in his autobiography he says the song was meant to describe most of the kinds of hassles a person encounters in everyday life.ย 

Bob Dylan is one of the many musicians to draw influence from Berry. When Berry won a PEN Award for song lyrics in 2012, Dylan sent him a note saying, “That’s what too much monkey business will get ya.”

Too Much Monkey Business

Runnin’ to-and-fro, hard workin’ at the mill
Never fail in the mail, yeah, come a rotten bill
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Salesman talkin’ to me, tryin’ to run me up a creek
Says you can buy now, gone try, you can pay me next week, ahh
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Blonde haired good looks, tryin’ to get me hooked
Want me to marry, get a home, settle down, write a book
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Same thing every day, gettin’ up, goin’ to school
No need for me to complain, my objection’s overruled, ahh
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Take home, something wrong, dime gone, will hold
Order suit, hoppered up for telling me a tale, ahh
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Been to yokohama, been fightin’ in the war
Army bunk, army chow, army clothes, army car, aah
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

Workin’ in the fillin’ station, too many tasks
Wipe the windows, check the tires, check the oil, dollar gas
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Don’t want your botheration, get away, leave me

Too much monkey business for me

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business”

  1. You are starting off the year with good stuff! This is what my dad and his peers were listening to as teenagers. I’ve enjoyed Keith’s stories and videos on working with Berry. Lots of great entertainment there. And then Bob taking poetry influence from him is really telling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love fifties music. My dad grew up in this time also and would tell me stories about him hearing this music for the first time. When ever I would get together with other musicians I didn’t know well…we would almost always play a Chuck Berry song because no matter what kind of music you play…everyone knows a Berry song.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love Chuck Berry and that tune. Even though his live performances could be hit and miss – in part since he refused to work with a standing touring band – Berry’s guitar-playing was really cool.

    I can’t tell you how many times I tried to learn Johnny B. Goode on the electric guitar. Of course, one of my key problems was I sucked on the electric. Essentially, I approached it the same way as my acoustic guitars, and that simply doesn’t work!

    Watching that clip with Keith Richards just makes me happy. Richards was a huge fan of Berry. He even accepted being punched once in the face by his hero after Keith had touched his guitar! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea with Chuck picking up local musicians in every town…playing his songs in different keys was crazy!
      It is a different approach for electric I agree. You have to be more nimble and have a softer touch. I’m not a great lead player either…I stick mostly to rhythm.

      Yes I’m glad Keith got a good performance out of him with a top notch band.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Saw Chuck Berry in Glasgow, 1981. It was only a mid-sized venue, and not filled to capacity, so it felt quite intmate. Past his heyday for sure, and he filled the set with more Blues songs than rock ‘n’ roll (which upset a lot of the Teds there that night) but still a brilliant gig, and I’m so glad I got the chance to see him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I regret not seeing him and Fats Domino…from all I’ve read…Chuck could be hit or miss. I wish he would have had a touring band instead of just picking up musicians in every town.

      Springsteen talked about the E Street band backing him before they made it in a town….they asked him what songs they were going to play…Chuck said “we are going to play some Chuck Berry songs” lol… he kept his backing bands guessing.

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      1. I must admit…when I was a kid I did like the song because I knew it was wrong lol…but then it got old quick.

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  4. Chuck Berry is so danged good. Every aspect is at the top of the charts, the tunes, the playing, the lyrics, the energy, the stage presence, the confidence on stage, the command of the audience, you name it he did it. I like the first video and so cool to see Keith playing backup. Looks like those two got along for at least awhile.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a great movie. Have you ever seen it? Hail Hail Rock and Roll.
      I’m so happy Keith got Chuck to perform with great musicians for at least one show…and not just a pickup band like he usually did.

      Liked by 1 person

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