“Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men

We’re not going to go out of our way trying to derive a deep or historical meaning from “Dirty Paws”. In relation to the My Head Is an Animal project in general, Nanna Hilmarsdóttir has stated that she and her bandmates “had a lot of fun making” it. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Of Monsters and Men's Dirty Paws at Lyrics.org.

And yes, the way the lyrics of this song read are as if they were a pleasure to create and something which the lyricists did not take overly serious.

But the above is not to imply that there isn’t any meaning contained therein whatsoever. It is obvious that this song is operating, to some extent, along a linear storyline.

Dirty Paws

As the title suggests, the central characters are animals or at least depicted as such. Or let’s say that it’s obvious some parts of the song may be talking about literal animals. But in others, it is also obvious that these creatures are serving as representations of human beings, including apparently the vocalist him or herself.

Now it has been put forth via one Quora post that this is actually a folk song. And what it speaks to, literally, is the history of the troubled existence of bees in Iceland, which is Of Monster and Men’s homeland. However, we do not believe that what we are dealing with here is that complicated.

Rather if anything, what this song does undoubtedly possess is an environmental motif. And along those lines it is based on two main ideas. One is nature’s being depicted as being constantly in a state of conflict. In other words, it’s like the different species are declaring war on each other in the name of controlling territory. 

And second would be something like man’s destructive impact on the environment. This is not only on the industrial, ‘forest blackening’ level. But also individually actions we regularly may engage in such as, say, ‘mowing the lawn’ can devastate the habitat of some species.

And going back to the beef between different animals, that may well serve as a metaphor for war between different countries – something which Europe has experienced quite a lot of. 

In Conclusion

But let’s just say, in closing, that Of Monsters and Men obviously have not overexerted themselves in the name of making this song distinctly point to one idea or the other. So we’ll take it as an open-interpretation piece, even though there is an undertone of shall we say environmental concern.

Lyrics to "Dirty Paws"

Facts about “Dirty Paws”

Republic Records put this song out on 12 April 2012.

The name of the aforementioned album was actually derived from a line found in this song.

At this time the Icelandic crew Of Monsters and Men consisted of six musicians. And as of the writing of this post in early-2021, all of them are still down with the crew. They are:

  • A. Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (drummer)
  • A. Guðjónsson (accordionist)
  • B. Leifsson (guitar)
  • K. P. Kristjánsson (bassist)
  • N. B. Hilmarsdóttir (lead vocalist)
  • R. Þórhallsson (lead vocalist)

Þórhallsson and Hilmarsdóttir, the respective male and female lead vocalists of the group, also co-wrote “Dirty Paws” in conjunction with Stephen Mann. 

And Of Monsters and Men produced the track alongside Aron Arnarsson.

"Dirty Paws"

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men is a band that has apparently peaked early. Being active since 2010, heading into 2020 they experienced their greatest success with their debut album and very-first single. 

That album, the selfsame “My Head Is an Animal”, scored a number one in Iceland, Ireland, Australia and on two different Billboard charts (Alternative Albums and Rock Albums) stateside. 

It has also gone quattuordecuple-platinum in Denmark. And the lead single from that project, “Little Talks“, performed especially strong in the United States. It was even certified quintuple-platinum stateside and fared similarly in a number of other nations.

Comparatively speaking “Dirty Paws”, the third single from and leadoff track on “My Head Is an Animal”, was a mild hit. Most notably it made it onto four different Billboard charts (Adult Alternative SongsAlternative AirplayHot Rock & Alternative Songs and Rock Airplay). 

And it has also been certified gold in the United States, the country where it was best received.

3 Responses

  1. Dwindling says:

    You may mean to be objective but you come across as dismissive and superior. Remember, they are doing, you are not.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Pretty sure the creature with the Dirty Paws is the U.S., the creatures of snow are the Russians, the Bee’s are the Germans, and the Birds are the French and the British.

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