So here I am, doing a theme set of songs about dogs. Funny thing, I don’t even like dogs. But they do seem to inspire songwriters in ways I very much enjoy. There is humor and sweetness here, as well as some of the same feelings I have about dogs, but set to music.
Nellie McKay: The Dog Song
Based on the evidence of this song, Nellie McKay is a dog lover. And she makes a strong case for them. Here is a woman who has found a cure for loneliness in the company of her dog. It may not be as fulfilling as a relationship with another human being, but it is also not nearly as complicated.
On her debut album, Nellie McKay’s music was as varied as the sounds one might here on the streets of her native New York City. I haven’t able to keep up with her more recent work, to see if she has settled down.
Jane Siberry: Everything Reminds Me of My Dog
Jane Siberry takes Nelly McKay’s feelings to their logical extreme. Siberry finds her feelings about her dog reflected in every aspect of the world around her. This is usually, but not always, a good thing for her.
Jane Siberry is one of Canada’s musical treasures. Her lyrics are often surreal, and her music is vastly imaginative. Everything Reminds Me of My Dog is one of her most conventional songs, and highlights her charm. To fully appreciate her range, also check my post of her song The White Tent The Raft on Star Maker Machine last week.
Leo Kottke: Pepe Hush
Leo Kottke’s Pepe is, I imagine, one of these small terrier type dogs that believes that anything that happens is an occasion for yapping. The only dogs that make me crazier are these gigantic mutations that think they are lap dogs. I had an akita do that to me once. I’m six foot four, but I needed to be rescued.
Leo Kottke is best known for his instrumental work on acoustic guitar. But occasionally, he also sings. Kottke doesn’t think much of his own voice, having described it as, “ geese farts on a muggy day”. This also gives some idea of his sense of humor.
Gaye Adegbalola: The Dog Was Here First
Some dog owners get carried away with their love for their pet. Here, Gaye Adegbalola’s character gets involved with a dog lover. He constantly compares her to the dog, and she just can’t compete. It makes a very affective, if unusual, subject for a blues song.
Gaye Adegbalola was one of the founding members of Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women. The Dog Was Here First comes from her solo debut, from 1999. She’s still at it, and her music continues to win major blues awards. Adegbalola is well aware of the tradition of female blues singers, going back to Bessie Smith and beyond.
George Clinton: Atomic Dog
Finally, I could not post a set of dog songs, and not include this one. this one had a great music video, which MTV wouldn’t touch. I wonder how music might be different today if this had broken the color line on MTV, instead of Michael Jackson.
George Clinton had been well known to funk fans for many years, as the leader of Parliament and Funkadelic. But it was the 80s before he began recording under his own name.