Dogs in Music - A Dialogue on Songwriting, Part II
Steven highlights multiple songs about (and not about) dogs throughout multiple genres, and decades, in the wrap-up of last week's piece
Hello and welcome to Part II of Dogs In Music (don't miss Part I - an interview with songwriter Pinky & Clementine)!
Today we're discussing the various artists and genres that have released songs written about our four-legged best friends.
I have to start with Indian metal group, Bloodywood, and their song 'Yaad' (with accompanying video). This was my introduction to the band, after it popped up in my recommended videos last year. There's no debate - this song details the love, bond and pain that comes with sharing a short, but beautiful, journey through life with a dog. Creatively expressed, passionate and thoughtful - if you're a dog lover like me, grab the tissues.
I feel obligated to talk about Baha Men's 'Who Let The Dogs Out?' due to its recognizability and clear mentioning of dogs. To be blunt - the song isn't about dogs, nor is it even worth discussing. When I first decided to write this piece, I researched similar articles and found countless collections of 'Dog Songs' and all of them were packed with songs that have nothing to do with dogs. I won't pretend this song is related to dogs whatsoever.
But - since the Baha Men are instantly thought of, I want to expose the weakness and irrelevance of this mind-numbing track - and once and for all dismiss it from the conversation. The track is strictly about men being 'dogs' and women dismissing the men who chase them as such. Yet, throughout the song they seem to be bragging about the self-proclaimed label (exactly what they want our kids to have entrenched in their mind, no?) :
Gonna tell myself, "Hey, man, no get angry"
Yippie yi yo
To any girls callin' them canine
Yippie yi yo
But they tell me, "Hey, man, it's part of the party?
Yippie yi yo
You put a woman in front and her man behind
Me and my white short shorts
And I can't see color, any color will do
I'll stick on you, that's why they call me 'Pit bull'
'Cause I'm the man of the land
When they see me they say - Who?
Who let the dogs out?
Good grief….moving on - in 1968, as part of the 'White Album', The Beatles released 'Martha My Dear' - a joyful little tune written by Paul about his sheepdog of the same name.
A year later, Elton John - on his debut studio album - released his song 'Gulliver/It's Hay Chewed (Reprise Version)" which addressed the pain of having to put down his beloved best friend. It's early (and forgotten) Elton-classic-greatness.
The last song I want to highlight is George Clinton's oft-sampled '80s hit 'Atomic Dog' which brought boogie and dogs to the dancefloors all over in its hey-day. Relating human nature, and mankind's tendencies, to that of the animalistic tendencies of dogs - while serving as an irresistible groove - this song proves not all dog-related songwriting has to be degrading or tear-jerking:
For the dog that chases its tail will be dizzy
These are clapping dogs, rhythmic dogs
Harmonic dogs, house dogs, street dogs
Dog of the world unite
The main thing I learned in researching songs of dogs in history is how many dog-mentioning tracks there are that have nothing to do with dogs themselves, but get unfairly lumped alongside actual canine content.
This caused me to look deeper at the songwriting aspect and how what we start with is rarely what we finish with (that we discussed in part one). But for every 'Martha My Dear' there's 10 'Black Dog' type of tracks. Some are great songs, some are just dangerous.
Regardless, there's definitely a difference between dog-related metaphors in music and songs legitimately written about/based on our favorite furry friends.
I left out thousands…what's your favorite dog song?
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. As always, stay Strong!