Monkey Wrench

Album: The Colour And The Shape (1997)
Charted: 12
Play Video


  • A monkey wrench is a piece of hardware - an adjustable wrench handy for many tasks. In the song, it's a metaphor for being used and trapped in a relationship; Dave Grohl doesn't want to be the guy who hangs around and gets picked up like a tool only when this person needs him. It was the first single off the Foo's second album.
  • Dave Grohl directed the video himself. At the beginning of the clip when he steps into the elevator, a lounge version of "Big Me," from the Foo Fighters' debut album, is playing. Grohl commissioned the Muzak company, which makes such "elevator music," to create the song, but their attempt sounded too earnest and sapped the comedy from the scene.

    Grohl turned to the duo Moog Cookbook for help; the electronic act released a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on their 1996 debut album that Grohl loved, so he had them give "Big Me" the same treatment. Brian Kehew, who was part of the duo, told us: "I went to the filming of 'Monkey Wrench' to deliver the song. They shot the exterior scenes at the old Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, and the interior/band scenes on the soundstage where Nirvana did 'Teen Spirit.' I believe it is Taylor Hawkins' first appearance on the drums with them."
  • The screamy bridge of this song is almost impossible for Dave Grohl to sing live. The bridge on the CD was yelled all in one breath. During many of Foo Fighters concerts, Grohl has the crowd scream the bridge out. If he does sing the bridge, there are usually a few breaths that can be heard in between. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bert - Pueblo, NM
  • Grohl told Mojo magazine January 2010 that this song is about the disintegration of his marriage to photographer Jennifer Youngblood. "It's about living with someone and feeling like you're living in a f--king cell. And then I wound up getting a divorce," he said.
  • After early sessions for The Colour and the Shape went poorly, the band regrouped without their drummer, William Goldsmith. Grohl wasn't planning to drum on the record, but he ended up doing so as he and producer Gil Norton felt the drums needed more work. "The first song we redid was 'Monkey Wrench.' Dave did a run through to get the sounds, and then did it in one take," Norton recalled to

    When Goldsmith realized Grohl was overdubbing his drums, he wound up leaving the band.
  • Although Grohl performed the actual drum track, the song's music video is the first Foo Fighters one to feature Taylor Hawkins on drums.
  • Surely the most memorable performance of this song took place at Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 12, 2015, when about a minute into the song, Dave Grohl missed a landing on a jump and fell off the stage, breaking his right leg. They were just two songs into the set, and Grohl was determined to finish the show. While he got medical attention, the band played some cover songs. Grohl then returned to the stage and did the rest of the show - about two-and-a-half-hours - propped up with an attendant holding his leg.

    Foo Fighters had to cancel the rest of their European dates while Grohl got surgery, but they went back on the road in July to finish the rest of the tour with Grohl performing from a Game Of Thrones-style throne made of guitars. The incident built a legend for the band and solidified their already strong bond with each other and with their fans. "That to me was the best thing that had ever happend to the band," Grohl said.

Comments: 12

  • Pablo 44 from Glasgow I seen an interview with Dave Gho talking about him writing thre album worte, and has laid down drums, guitar and bass himself on like a old 4 track record. But even though it wss band, I don't think even expected to be front man, he just wanted to.form a band, but apparently when Taylor Hawkins turn for jam and a audition. Dave knew how good a drummer Taylor was. It was almost like Dave gave up drum sticks for Taylor..i don't know how accurate the interview was. But i sounded sincere.
  • Jack from Boston, MaMarcus from Columbia, YESSS
  • Daniel from Indianapolis, InI've tried yelling that one verse in one breath and I don't know how the hell Dave Grohl did it.
  • Marcus from Columbia, MoHe kind of looks like a young Santana in this video.
  • Benjamin from Chicago, Il, IlJimmy from Lancaster, CA

    I can answer that. FF are not necessarily punk, however if you listen to their early stuff, Monkey Wrench, included you can definitely tell that there are some punk overtones. Dave Grohl was devoted to hardcore punk and played in a few punk bands before FF.
  • Jimmy from Lancaster, Cato simon in chatanooga, tenesee, how exactly are foo fighter punk?
  • Tracy from Tulsa, OkSong is about being tired of being an enabler.

    And it is adolescent resident.

    At this moment in time when the song was recorded, I doubt Dave cared too much about Bill Clinton.
  • Shawn from Chehalis, WaTwo corrections to what Patrice said 1.It's a line not the title and 2. He's saying "adolescent resident"
  • Mike from Sydney, AustraliaTo Patrice, ERRORA, OK: Add a less-than president?? You are kidding aren't you? That is a comtender for "Mis-heard lyrics of the year"....
  • Patrice from Errora, OkThe title "Add a less-than president" refers to Grohl's contempt for Bill Clinton.
  • Simon from Chattanooga , Tnthis has one of the greatest, and yet the most simple, bass lines in punk rock music. guitar hero2 was genius to feature this song.
  • Billy from A Place, Algreat song. featured on guitar hero 2
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG's, Blues Brothers)

Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG's, Blues Brothers)Songwriter Interviews

Steve Cropper on the making of "In the Midnight Hour," the chicken-wire scene in The Blues Brothers, and his 2021 album, Fire It Up.

Name the Character in the Song

Name the Character in the SongMusic Quiz

With a few clues (Works at a diner, dreams of running away), can you name the character in the song?

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus WainwrightSongwriter Interviews

Rufus Wainwright on "Hallelujah," his album Unfollow The Rules, and getting into his "lyric trance" on 12-hour walks.

Muhammad Ali: His Musical Legacy and the Songs he Inspired

Muhammad Ali: His Musical Legacy and the Songs he InspiredSong Writing

Before he was the champ, Ali released an album called I Am The Greatest!, but his musical influence is best heard in the songs he inspired.

Gary Lewis

Gary LewisSongwriter Interviews

Gary Lewis and the Playboys had seven Top 10 hits despite competition from The Beatles. Gary talks about the hits, his famous father, and getting drafted.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.