Here’s a selection for the dog lovers: 26 songs about canines — and one by dogs. Excluding some of the obvious choices, they range from the happy to the spooky to the amusing to the sad. I’ve tried to keep the sad ones to a minimum; as any dog or cat owner will know, the time when a pet has to be put down is nearly as traumatic as losing a family member.
Ken-L Ration Commercial – My Dog’s Better Than Your Dog (1960s)
Kids usually brag about whose Dad is the strongest; in this TV commercial, the kids don’t argue: the kids with the Ken-L Ration eating dog win by dietary default. The jingle was based on a song by the great singer-songwriter Tom Paxton.
The Beatles – Martha My Dear (1968)
Martha was Paul’s dog that roamed his overgrown garden in St John’s Wood, London. Paul never wrote as lovingly about Jane Asher…
Harry Nilsson – The Puppy Song (1969)
Lonely Harry wishes for a puppy with whom to “share a cup of tea” and escape from alienating society.
Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog (1967)
Yup, Cat loves his dog.
Johnny Cash – Dirty Old Egg Suckin Dog (1969)
Call the pet protection agency! Cash might like his dog, but if he messes with the chicken again, he will visit violence upon the hound. And this is a light-hearted song…
Dolly Parton – Me And Little Andy (1977)
Dark spooky stuff about a death-bound visitor and her dog. One for opening those tear-ducts.
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians – Ghost Of A Dog (1990)
Some years ago Edie put her dog to sleep — and now he is nocturnally spooking the yard. Cold shivers!
Nellie McKay – The Dog Song (2004)
Adopted dog turns around singer’s pitiful life by being tail-wagging and cute.
Bobby Bare Jr – Your Adorable Beast (2004)
Country giant’s son sings a love song to his dog. All dog owners think about playing it for their pooch.
Bright Eyes – Stray Dog Freedom (2006)
Oberst digs the freedom of the stray dog. Or he means himself. Does anyone ever really know with that guy?
Klaatu – All Good Things (1980)
The band that wasn’t The Beatles after all sing about losing their best friend: “I never had a closer friend than you, but all good things must end”. Start up those tear-ducts again.
Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
The original version. Bojangles is sobering up in jail and tells his fellow inmates about his hoofing life on the road, and about his beloved dog. *** SPOILER ALERT *** The dog died.
Anonymous – Your Dog Loves My Dog (1960s)
From an album of recordings from the civil rights movement, the song tells the story of two dogs, one owned by a black person and the other by a white man, who are great friends. The metaphor is patently obvious, but some people still do not get it.
Tom T. Hall – Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine (1972)
An old guy tells Tom about the three things “that’s worth a solitary dime”. Superannuated canines rank among these.
Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow – I’ll Take The Dog (1966)
Jean and Ray are getting divorced and amicably settle on who gets what, until it comes to the custody of the pooch, at which point they turn into Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney — a Pillow fight, so to speak (oh come on, everybody loves a putrid pun!). Watch out for the surprise ending.
Webb Pierce – I’m Walking The Dog (1953)
In questions of romance, Webb values his freedom, preferring to walk his dog. Unless the song’s title serves as a euphemism.
Elvis Presley – Old Shep (1956)
An old country lament for a dog that gone died. Originally recorded by Red Foley, Old Shep was the favourite song of the young boy Elvis down Tupelo way — so much did young Elvis love the song that he sang it at his first ever public performance, as a ten-year-old at a talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Elvis didn’t win (and the winner either never had to buy a drink again, or felt like a total fraud when Elvis became famous), but he recorded Old Shep on his debut album.
Three Keys – That Doggone Dog Of Mine (1933)
The Three Keys’ mutt cannot do much but it cost only 15 cents, in 1933 money. And what follows is a lovingly compiled doggy CV.
Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Where Has My Little Dog Gone (1939)
The nursery rhyme rendered in big band style. It’s quite brilliant.
Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
Hank is in the dog house, now the big, mad dawg is moving in, so scratch it on over, small dog.
Rufus Thomas – Stop Kickin’ My Dog Around (1964)
Rufus, whose moniker is a popular canine name, had a string of songs about man’s best friend: Walk The Dog, The Dog, Somebody Stole My Dog , Can Your Monkey Do The Dog and this song counselling somebody to mind their bad temper.
Nancy Sinatra – Leave My Dog Alone (1966)
People, leave the dog alone. And her cat. And Nancy.
Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror Mix) (1986)
Because I Want A Dog is much too obvious.
Ferlinghetti & Dorough – Dog (1958)
An existential poem about dogs set to jazz (“Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him.”). Snoopy would dig it.
The Monkees – Gonna Buy Me A Dog (1966)
The Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart song about getting a pet to recover from a break-up was intended to be performed straight, and The Monkees recorded it thus on a version that went unreleased for the next three decades. On this take, released in 1966, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones certainly don’t play the song straight, instead lacing it with some really bad jokes.
Homer & Jethro – That Hound Dog In The Window (1953)
Yes, we’re well into the novelty section of dog songs now. Comedy duo Homer & Jethro corrupt that nice Patti Page hit about the price for the pooch in the store window. It probably was quite hilarious in 1953.
Don Charles and the Singing Dogs – Oh! Susanna (1955)
Doggies bark a song. There is a reason this song comes at the end of this collection…
As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-bred covers are included. I borrowed the graphic for the front cover from papillonpalsrescue.com, an adoption agency for dogs. If you are in the market for a canine, please consider adopting a dog.