The Main Monkey Business

Background and Commentary

The piece is the first of three instrumentals on Snakes & Arrows. Geddy, Alex, and Neil played together as an ensemble during the recording to capture the feeling of a live performance. The title comes from an exchange Geddy had with his mother.

“‘The Main Monkey Business’ was certainly the most painstaking song of all [on Snakes & Arrows] to write, arrange, and record (it took me three days just to learn it). Its title comes from a conversation Geddy had with his Polish mother. Talking about a cousin of theirs, she said, ‘I have a feeling he’s up to some monkey business.’ Geddy laughed, saying, ‘What kind of monkey business?’ ‘You know,’ she said, with Old World wisdom, ‘The main monkey business.’ Everybody knows about that.”—Neil in The Game of Snakes & Arrows essay

“When we recorded the ‘Main Monkey Business,’ it was one of those examples where we all wanted to get on the floor. The song was feeling a little stiff anyway, and we thought it would be great if we just got our there and played it with Neil. It fires him up to have me standing close to him and Alex bashing away. Sometimes you forget how important the visual contact is. I can see his hands, so if he’s improvising on some little moment and he’s going to go to hit that drum at that time, I can go there with him and sometimes you get a great spontaneous boost to that part of the song.”—Geddy in the Game of Snakes & Arrows DVD

“When we decided to work at Allaire [the recording studio in New York’s Catskills Mountains], one of the reasons was we wanted to work in the room together and record some stuff off the floor. And that’s not something we typically do and haven’t for a very long time. And we ran ‘Main Monkey Business’ down I don’t know how many times until we got a take that was something we felt was quite natural and had all that feel of live performance.”—Alex in the Game of Snakes & Arrows DVD

“We saved it for the end. It was the last song that we did. It was just about getting the energy and the feel of the three of them just doing it. it was cool. It was really cool to watch. I think they had a blast doing it.”—Nick Raskulinecz in the Game of Snakes & Arrows DVD


By Ronnie Chesson

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

This tab is mostly based off of based off the live version. I’ve watched the DVD like a hundred times and this is what I came up with. To switch between acoustic and electric guitars on stage, Lifeson uses an mbrace. Also, there are two different tunings used during this song: all acoustics should be tuned to DADAAD and all electrics are in standard tuning. Enjoy.


(12 String Acoustic Guitar Tuned DADAAD)

riff 2-(0:05)for this part just strum that open DADAAD chord
and throw in a couple hammer-ons on the 4th and
5th string,3rd and 5th fret, also some chords.
Like So:
Repeat this 5 times

riff 3-(0:28)for this part use standard tuning. lifeson uses
a distorted guitar with lots of treble.

repeat these 2 bars twice

riff 4-(0:50) for this riff lifeson uses some sort of flanger
thing and also throws in a couple rakes.
repeat this riff 4 times

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“The Main Monkey Business” guitar cover

“The Main Monkey Business” bass cover

“The Main Monkey Business” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 20, 2011.

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