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 four of the best songs that were written about our four-legged best friends.
I have to start with the Indian metal group, Bloodywood, and their song “Yaad.”
This was my introduction to the band after it popped up on my recommended videos last year. There’s no debate–this song details the love, bond, and pain that comes with sharing a beautiful, but brief, life with a canine companion. Creatively expressed, passionate, and thoughtful–if you’re a dog lover like me, grab the tissues.
I, unfortunately, feel obligated to talk about Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out?” due to its recognizability and clear mentioning of dogs. To be frank–the song isn’t about dogs, nor is it timeless. The rest of this list includes songs that have withstood the test of time by some all-time greats. This is basically the opposite.
When I first decided to write this piece, I found countless collections of ‘Dog Songs’ all over the internet, and all of them were packed with lyrics that have no actual relation to canines. I won’t pretend that this, out of all songs, is related to dogs.
But–since the Baha Men are instantly what search results bring up–I want to address the song, 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 their behavior and the reaction it elicits–through very familiar and radio worthy lyrics:
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 addresses the pain of having to put down his beloved best friend. It’s an early (and forgotten) Elton-classic-greatness.
The last song I want to highlight is George Clinton’s oft-sampled ’80s hit, “Atomic Dog,” which frequently brought dancing and dogs to dancefloors in its heyday. This song proves not all dog-related songwriting has to be degrading or tear-jerking as it relates human nature to the animalistic tendencies of dogs–all the while serving as an irresistible groove:
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 about dogs, is just how many dog-mentioning tracks there are that have nothing to do with dogs themselves but get unfairly lumped alongside actual canine content.
This realization caused me to look deeper into songwriting and how what we start with is rarely how we end (as discussed in Part I). Just the use of the word ‘dog’ doesn’t translate into a song about dogs.
For every “Martha My Dear”, there are 10 ‘Black Dog’ tracks. Some are great songs, some….you can decide.
Regardless, there’s definitely a difference between dog-related metaphors in music…and songs literally written about/based on our favorite furry friends.
And then there’s always the shallow route of using dogs as a metaphoric tool to make, well, other points–but we can’t all be Baha Men.
I left out thousands…what’s your favorite dog song?
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. As always, stay Strong!