Country Metaphors

monkeyCountry music is famous for its three chords and the truth strategy or at least for the tagline. The straightforward and simple lyrics that cut into our souls are what ultimately draw us to this genre.

Country music, however, is also rife with songs that contain metaphors. Many times, the metaphors are easy to comprehend, but there are times when they seem almost out of reach. They are the songs that can be interpreted in different ways, which are often the most fun.

Fore me, one such song is Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson’s “Monkey on A Wire.” In my mind, at least, it’s somewhat of a challenge to pinpoint the exact symbolism of the monkey on a wire. In my review of their album, I give it a respectable try, but I’m still not convinced of my interpretation. My guess was:

“The unshakably catchy “Monkey On A Wire” explores the tenuous act of attempting to resist the desires of temptation, but ultimately recognizing the futility of the exercise. With us as flawed humans playing the part of the symbolic monkey on a wire who’s attempting to evade the devil, they sing: ‘Oh, here I go/Me and my desire/Everyone’s got their own monkey on a wire/Oh, down below/Leader of the choir/He’s waiting for the next monkey on a wire.’”

So, my question is:

What are your favorite songs with metaphors or symbolism? Explain.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Monkey On A Wire


  1. I’m corrupted by Kevin’s choice, because it’s the epitome of the metaphor song, but Garth’s “The River” isn’t too shabby, either. Too bad I couldn’t find an actual video of Garth singing it on YouTube.

  2. The song of Waylon’s that I never thought of as a metaphor song is “Belle of the Ball,” but I saw an interview with Shooter where he talked about his dad being proud of writing that song and how it was a metaphor for the music industry in Nashville. It worked pretty well for me after listening to it again with that in mind.


  3. The first one that came to my mind was Pam Tillis’ “The River and the Highway”. Thanks for the video Kevin. Another one of my favorite “train” song from Rosanne Cash would be “Runaway Train.”

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