Def Leppard – “Animal” Lyrics Meaning

Photo of author
Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

For those who prefer a quick take, Def Leppard’s “Animal” is a song exploring the raw, primal side of desire. It’s about the human instinct that pushes us, and the untamed ‘animal’ within that drives our deepest urges. Written by the band during a time of significant change and tension, the song is not dedicated to a specific person, but rather, it serves as an anthem for the timeless experience of desire itself. Inspired by their tumultuous experiences, Def Leppard crafts a narrative around the passionate, untamed facets of attraction.

Hold on tight, because this article will take you on a deep-dive journey into the wild territory of desire as portrayed in Def Leppard’s “Animal”. The intricate lyrics and profound subtext promise an exciting exploration ahead.

“Animal” Lyrics Meaning

As we begin, the lyrics “A wild ride / Over stony ground / And such a lust for life” set the stage for a story that takes place in an unpredictable and intense landscape. The ‘wild ride’ and ‘stony ground’ metaphorically represent life’s challenges and the turbulent journey of desire.

The following line, “The circus comes to town / We are the hungry ones / On a lightning raid,” represents a world thrown into disarray, charged with energy and lust. The band uses vivid imagery, creating a spectacle of desires running wild, a rush of feelings comparable to a ‘lightning raid.’

Continuing, “Just like a river runs / Like a fire needs flame / Oh, I burn for you,” intensifies the theme of insatiable desire. It’s an image of raw emotion that flows like a river and a need as vital as a fire requiring fuel to burn.

The lyrics “I need your touch don’t need your love,” reaffirm this idea, suggesting a profound longing that is more about the physical craving rather than emotional love. Here the songwriters emphasize a distinction between the need for sensual connection and emotional attachment.

Repeatedly chanting “And I want / And I need / And I lust / Animal,” the band brings home their central theme: the wild, uncontrollable nature of desire, equating it with the basic, instinctual behavior of an ‘animal.’ This powerful refrain drives home the song’s message, blurring the lines between our civilized selves and our primal instincts.

The lines “I cry wolf / Givin’ mouth to mouth / Like a movin’ heartbeat / In the witching hour,” use provocative imagery to further build the narrative of intense desire. The reference to ‘crying wolf’ might suggest a playfulness or deception within the relationship, adding another layer to the complex nature of desire and attraction.

The lyrics, “Gonna hunt you like an an-an-animal / Gonna take your love and run,” beautifully encapsulate the overarching theme of the song, ending on a powerful note, leaving the listener intrigued and captivated by the primal world that Def Leppard has masterfully woven through their lyrics.

While there’s a lot more to unpack in this enticing song, this analysis covers the key ideas it explores. Delving deeper into the lyrics offers a richer understanding of the song’s portrayal of the raw and wild side of desire. Let’s look at the story behind the song for additional context.

The Story Behind “Animal”

“Animal” was born out of a transitional phase in Def Leppard’s career. Released in 1987 as part of their fourth album “Hysteria”, it reflects the dramatic changes and challenges the band faced. This period was marked by the exit and re-entry of guitarist Steve Clark due to alcohol issues, and drummer Rick Allen’s car accident that led to the amputation of his left arm.

The creation of “Hysteria” was a testament to Def Leppard’s resilience, and “Animal” is a part of that narrative. The band was grappling with personal and professional struggles, mirroring the intense and tumultuous emotions the lyrics of “Animal” convey.

The song is not about a particular person, but rather it represents the primal energy that the band channeled during a time of upheaval. The ‘animal’ symbolizes a kind of raw, untamed emotion that the band was feeling during this period.

In an interview, lead singer Joe Elliott said about “Hysteria” that it was about ‘pure and simple, gut instinct, basic animal rights.’ This notion can be easily mapped onto the lyrics of “Animal”, where the band’s desire to keep going, their instinct to survive and thrive in the face of adversity, is laid bare.

This was also a time when the band was moving away from their traditional heavy metal sound to a more radio-friendly, polished style. “Animal” represents this shift too – it’s a perfect fusion of their heavy metal roots with a pop-rock sensibility that resonated with a broader audience.

In conclusion, “Animal” by Def Leppard is a song that encapsulates the human experience of desire and longing. It’s a testament to the band’s resilience, their ‘animal’ instinct to keep going even when faced with great adversity. It’s a reminder that beneath our civilized exterior, we’re all driven by the same primal urges. And it’s these instincts that make us who we are – human, flawed, and beautifully complex.