The Zookeeper's Boy
by Mew

Album: And the Glass Handed Kites (2005)

Songfacts®:

  • Mew is a Danish band that writes rather ambiguous lyrics. This song finds lead singer Jonas Bjerre asking over and over, "Are you my lady, are you?"

    There are references to a giraffe and ostrich, and also a mention of a zookeeper, but it's hard to define a story here. In our interview with Bjerre, he explained how he came up with the words: "We were living in London by then, and we had this piece. It was a catchy melody, and I just sat there listening at night, while everyone else was sleeping, and I started singing over it, and singing these words that came to me. I didn't write them down or anything - I just sang them. It was so inspiring."
  • The chorus of this song was originally the outro to another track on the album, "Special." When their producer, Michael Beinhorn, hear it, he knew that section was too good to be relegated to an outro, so he had them use it as the chorus to a new song, which became "The Zookeeper's Boy."
  • In creating the track, Mew used a technique where they came up with a melody, then played it backwards, something they also did on the songs "Am I Wry? No" and "New Terrain."

    "We had done a lot of multi-layering of vocals, but it was actually reversed," Bjerre told Songfacts. "It was a chord sequence that our bass player came up with, and then I was whistling a melody, and it was kind of cool. But we did that years before, and I pulled it up again. I tried playing it backwards, and it became a much more interesting melodic progression."

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