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Meaning of the song ‘Animal’ by ‘Def Leppard’

Released: 1987

“Animal” by Def Leppard isn’t just a song; it’s a raw surge of primal energy encapsulated in one of the most electrifying anthems of the ’80s rock scene. At its core, this track dives deep into the untamed facets of human desire, crafting a vivid narrative that intertwines the wildness of animal instincts with the fervor of passionate, albeit complex, human emotion. It’s a hymn that celebrates the all-consuming fire of needing something or someone so intensely, it transcends the mere want into the realm of primal need.

The song kicks off with “A wild ride, over stony ground / Such a lust for life, the circus comes to town,” painting a picture of life as a relentless, exhilarating journey. The “circus” metaphor evokes the chaos and unpredictability of our desires, highlighting a vibrant lust for life. Moving onto “We are the hungry ones, on a lightning raid / Just like a river runs, like a fire needs flame,” there’s an unmistakable declaration of a deep, insatiable yearning—a yearning that’s as natural and essential as a river’s flow or a fire’s need for its flame. This isn’t just wanting; it’s an elemental necessity, an intrinsic part of being alive.

The chorus, “And I want, and I need, and I lust, animal,” is a powerful, repetitive proclamation. It’s not just about wanting someone’s touch or affection; it’s about a raw, almost animalistic lust—a primal need that goes beyond the rational, beyond the civilized, tapping into something more essential and untamed within us. The chorus isn’t shy about this; it wears its heart on its sleeve, showcasing that sometimes, what we desire isn’t just a gentle want but a roaring, unstoppable need.

Delving further into the lyrics, “I cry wolf, given mouth-to-mouth / Like a moving heartbeat, in the witching hour,” evokes the idea of resuscitation, of bringing something back to life with a kiss, in the witching hour— a time associated with magic and the supernatural. This imagery suggests not just revival but an almost mystical, powerful connection that’s both life-giving and intensely passionate. “I’m running with the wind, a shadow in the dust,” continues this theme of unbridled freedom and the chase—running not away from something, but perhaps toward an irresistible call.

The lines “Cry wolf baby, cry tough / Going to hunt you like an a-a-animal / Going to take your love and run,” dive deeper into the hunt, the pursuit of this all-encompassing desire. It’s a declaration of intent, a bold admission of wanting to capture that feeling, that connection, and savor it. It’s not just about the conquest; it’s about the exhilaration of the chase, the pleasure of the pursuit, and finally, the triumph of capturing something so deeply craved.

In its essence, “Animal” by Def Leppard serves as a thunderous ode to the raw, untamed aspects of human desire and need. It’s a song that recognizes and revels in the primal, instinctual parts of ourselves that society often tells us to tame. Def Leppard masterfully encapsulated an emotion so intense, so fervent, that it claws its way out, demanding to be felt, experienced, and ultimately, surrendered to. “Animal” isn’t just music; it’s an invitation to unleash the wild within, to embrace the unrestricted fervor of our natural instincts, and to celebrate the passionate, untamable spirit that dwells in the heart of rock itself.

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