Dogs are our best friends, everyone knows it, but how often do you hear songs about our best friends? Turns out, maybe more often than we notice. Obviously, some “dog” songs aren’t really about dogs. Black dog by Led Zeppelin is about dogs about as much as War Pigs by Black Sabbath is about pork chops. So, I took a listen and tried to find some of the better songs about our canine companions.
7 great songs about dogs in no particular order (plus a couple bonuses)..
Fire – Jimi Hendrix Experience
A lot of people wouldn’t put this in the dog song category, however, urban legend has it that this is about the bass player’s mother’s dog. The story goes that way back when, in the days when the Jimi Hendrix Experience were just three guys playing clubs in London, they came back from rehearsal on a cold winter day to find themselves locked outside. Finally. Mum came home and let the boys come in to warm up at the fire place (Let me stand next to your fire.) and Jimi had to move the big labrador to get his hands warm (Move over, Rover, let Jimi take over.)
True story? Total fabrication? We will never know.
Martha My Dear – The Beatles
The Beatles were dog fans to the point that they even put a pitch so high only dogs could hear it on A Day in the Life on the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Hey Bulldog is another wink at our furry pals, but in this list I chose to include Martha My Dear. While it may have been an ode to a lost love, Paul McCartney has often said it was inspired by his Old English Sheepdog, Martha. Another little tidbit of trivia about this song, McCartney is the only real Beatle to perform on the track. All the other instrumentation is done by hired session musicians.
Old Shep- Elvis Presley
As a kid, I loved Elvis. Don’t ask me where the fascination with the King came from as I don’t have an answer, but I listened to 45rpm records non-stop, collecting his albums, and watching his movies. Even today, I still have a nostalgic soft spot for Vegas Elvis. Being such a fan, you might think I would hit the obvious song, Hound Dog. Instead, I want to include a cover song written back in 1933. Old Shep was actually about a German Shepherd named Hoover. I will admit without shame that when I first heard this song, I wept like a child, which, at about 7, is exactly what I was. Now, many years later, it can still make me a little misty-eyed.
Speaking of the King, Neil Young had a dog named in honor of Mr. Presley, a hound he called Elvis. The dog toured the country with him, and became the subject of a number of onstage tales as the band criss-crossed the country, which apparently was not a lot of fun for Elvis. The song, Old King, is a tribute to him.
Atomic Dog – George Clinton
This funk hit is probably known to most people these days from Snoop Dogg’s sample in Who Am I?, but riffs and lines from this, the last P-Funk hit to reach number one on the charts, have been included in dozens of songs since its release in 1982.
Love My Dog – Cat Stevens
This is not a great song, in my opinion, but who could resist putting a song about dogs by a guy named Cat on this list? Not me.
My Dog and Me – John Hiatt
John Hiatt is a writer with wit and humor and I just love his songs. You might even argue that You’ve Got a Friend in Me with Randy Newman could be about our relationships with our dogs. This tune however, goes right to the heart of the matter, tackling the joy and job of having a dog.
Give Me Back my Dog – Slobberbone
Who hasn’t gone through a break-up where they feel they’ve lost everything, including their friends? This alt-country rocker tackles the topic with verve. The dog in the tune seems to be pretty happy with the new situation, getting his attention, treats, and love from his new owner, but the singer pleads, “give me back my dog.” An aside here, Slobberbone gained minor(?) notoriety in the Stephen King novel, Black House, where they are inaccurately described as a buzz-saw punk band.
This list is, of course, terribly incomplete. From the Everly Brothers’, Bird Dog to Miley Cyrus singing the ode to her deceased pets, The Twinkle Song, there are countless songs about our best friends. What are your favorites?
ps – I do not own any of these videos or the music included here.