With August winding down, there won't be many chances left to ruthlessly exploit the "hot" themes much longer. As one commentator to this blog rightfully fears, it's only a matter of time before I shamelessly start cataloging those "November" songs and "November Rain" gets it obvious and crass promotional plug. Such are the vagaries of this entertainment business.
For now, I focus one last time on what would be known as the "Dog Days of August." Being a subliterate chump, a militant anti-intellectual--thinking hurts-- and a generally stupid guy who grew up in New Jersey, I always go for what is easy and obvious. (I chose my college based on the three maxims that can be applied to life: cheap, easy and local.) So, while others greatly ponder human significance and try to answer deep, philosophical questions, I typed DOG into my highly-sophisticated indexing system and came with WAY too may Dog songs. None of which talk about the heat or the Dog Days of August in any respect. I can already sense the outrage. WHAT KIND OF COLUMN ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL HERE?
Calm down. Stop yelling. I offer you these five fine songs about Dogs, knowing full well I've left out Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" because, well, because I could.
There will be no gratuitous Michael Vick references in this piece. Except this one. We love gratuitousness. We do not love dog fights. Some sense of order must be maintained or else we will spiral into malicious lawlessness. And we don't want that.
The Baha Men--"Who Let The Dogs Out?": The only reason I like this song is because it makes everyone I know completely crazy. Because the song is so thoroughly annoying in every context. Because every time some lame sports team would show a glimmer of hope its fans would start chanting this as if a lifetime of disappointment was about to be lifted from their weary shoulders. And like so many other songs that seemed to be "timely" at the time, it's now so dated that to even bring it up makes me feel old. As it should all of us.
Ted Hawkins--"Bad Dog": I don't expect you've heard of this. But you should. Ted Hawkins was a street singer who was shuttled into a recording studio to record his my-t-fine tunes just so a half dozen people could then buy his albums. Supposedly, he was big in England before he died in the mid-'90s, which means what? Exactly. Anyhow, this tune is about a dog that barks at everyone from the welfare lady to the exterminator and even bites the singer. Yet, there's one man whose identity is kept from us whom the dog never bites. Is this Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer? One hopes, but sincerely doubts.
Rufus Thomas--"Walkin' The Dog": As someone who can never follow a song from start to finish (I know the Edmund Fitzgerald ended in a wreck, but how it happens still eludes me), I'm still not sure what "She broke her needle now she can't sew" has to do with "Walkin' The Dog." I always figure these euphemistically-scented tunes are meant to go over my head. Like the world is one vast conspiracy where everyone knows a secret that they're not telling me--on purpose. Everyone from the Rolling Stones to their '70s look-alikes the Aerosmith Band covered this old R&B tune, but you should really seek out the Rufus Thomas version. It'll make you seem cooler than you actually are. It's worked for me.
R. Stevie Moore--"Don't Let Me Go To The Dogs": Again, someone I don't expect most people have heard of. R. Stevie Moore is this guy who holes up in his bedroom with tape recorders and makes music only a few people ever hear. He was doing this back in the 1970s when it took real work. They didn't have these computers around to fix things and the time and energy that it took to do it tells you this guy spent a lot of time unemployed. This song features Mr. Moore making vague "dog noises" and singing in a high-pitched whine that humans can still hear, but which drives dogs completely crazy. Or I'm wondering if dogs just really hate this guy's music.
The Stooges--"I Wanna Be Your Dog": We all must have aspirations. Some of us want to grow up to be President. Some of us want to make a lot of money. Some of us dream of a better world. Some of us dream of beating the crap out of our sworn enemies. Iggy Pop just wanted to be a girl's dog. Which I suppose is admirable in its way. However, not to be too particular, but in my experience, you'd probably really want to be a girl's cat. The way women dote on cats is really amazing. You don't have to do any stupid tricks to get attention. You just lay there and let them rub your belly. Yumma!