Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started last March: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify CLICK HERE. span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)
According to an article in The NY Times entitled “Pandemic Puppies,” our year of Covid resulted in a run on pets. Feeling lonely, isolated and stressed, people purchased or adopted 70 percent more dogs and cats than they did the previous year. We now have a pet shortage. What to do? Idea. In memory of Snickers and Benchley, here are 27 “pet songs.” Listen up!
- “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” The Beach Boys. From their definitive 1966 album Pet Sounds. Love the vocal harmonies and “Wall of Sound” orchestration. Tells the story of a couple who want to run off together in search of the vaccine.
- “Hound Dog” Elvis Presley. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller originally recorded in 1952 by Big Mama Thornton. The song that propelled Elvis into stardom and rock ‘n’ roll into relevance.
- “Rockin’ Robin” Bobby Day. R&B singer and record producer, Bobby recorded this hit in 1958. Crazily enough, his real name is Robert Byrd. Makes sense that his biggest hit would be about a bird.
- “(How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window” Patti Page. Patti, born Clara Ann Fowler, one of eleven children, recorded this novelty hit in 1952. Includes the lyric: “You can’t take a goldfish for a walk,” a painful lesson I learned when I was put in charge of our first-grade class’s pet goldfish. RIP Captain Nemo.
- “Bird Dog” The Everly Brothers. The brothers recorded this hit in 1958. The coolest kid at the CT shore was named Johnny and based on the lyric “Johnny is a Joker,” called himself Joker. We were close. I’d go up to him and say, “Hey, Joker.” He’d say, “And you are?”
- “Puppy Love” Paul Anka. Pop hitmaker and super songwriter Anka wrote this big hit in 1960 for Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. They were having a torrid affair while on tour. He said, “I love your ears,” She said, “Yours are bigger.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few months later Paul wrote, “You’re Having My Baby.”
- “What’s New Pussycat?” Tom Jones. Welsh baritone Sir Thomas John Woodward belted this Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition, the title song from the 1965 film of the same name. Woody Allen wrote the script, his first produced screenplay.
- “Stray Cat Strut” Stray Cats. Brian Setzer formed this rockabilly band in 1979 in his hometown of Massapequa, NY, hometown of Jerry Seinfeld, Neil Diamond, Alec Baldwin, Marvin Hamlisch, and sports radio superstar JT the Brick. Fancy town.
- “Cats And Dogs” The Head and the Heart. Seattle indie rock/folk band formed in 2009 sings about cats and dogs and a mouse, too. Cool song. Love the band.
- “Crocodile Rock” Elton John. 1972 hit inspired by Elton’s love of some obscure Australian band. He goes falsetto on this one and, yes, a crocodile can be a pet, according to some crazies who apparently live in a swamp.
- “A Horse With No Name” America. Remember from a previous list, America was formed in London and the band London was formed in America? Anyway, this was the band’s biggest hit, in 1972, and was #1 in Finland. P.S. In elementary school, my friendDanny Kerkhoff brought his pet horse to my house. My mother was not pleased.
- “Blackbird” The Beatles. McCartney wrote and sings this song solo off The White Album. Allegedly, Paul heard the caw of a blackbird and wrote this song. When the bird left, he sang, “Bye Bye Blackbird.” He did not.
- “Cats In The Cradle” Harry Chapin. From 1974, this is Harry’s only number one song. It’s about fathers and sons, not cats. I get emotional every time I hear it.
- “Three Little Birds” Bob Marley & The Wailers. Jamaican reggae legend Marley and his tremendous band sang this great song containing the lyrics “Don’t worry about a thing… every little thing is gonna be alright.” The 2013 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, thanks to Shane Victorino who loved the song, made this the team’s anthem after the Boston Marathon bombing. “Boston Strong!”
- “White Rabbit” Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick and company recorded this big hit in 1966. Grace wrote it claiming she took imagery from Alice in Wonderland and music licks from Miles Davis.
- “Puff, The Magic Dragon” Peter, Paul & Mary. 1962 smash hit written by Peter Yarrow based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton, a 19-year-old Cornell student. Everyone thinks the song is about smoking pot. Ridiculous. It’s about a cuddly pet dragon. And edibles.
- “Bird On The Wire” Leonard Cohen. From 1969. Leonard called this a country song and has been covered by many country artists, including Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. He said he wrote this for his girlfriend to cheer her up. Seriously? This is Leonard “Mr. You Want It Darker” being cheerful?
- “Saint Bernard” Ron Sexsmith. Canadian singer-songwriter and one of my favorites. You would think he wrote this about his dog. You would be wrong. He wrote this about the breed, saying if he ever got a dog it would be a Saint Bernard.
- “Walking The Dog” Rufus Thomas. R&B, funk, soul singer from Memphis. Rufus was a tap dancer and comedian and the father of the great soul singer, Carla Thomas. This 1963 song was his biggest hit.
- “Nashville Cats” The Lovin’ Spoonful. From 1966 and making the second appearance on the list. John Sebastian and company sing about country singers “clean as country water.” This song is not about actual cats. Just cool cats like the Spoonful.
- “I Love My Dog” Yusuf/Cat Stevens. This was actually the London folksinger’s first single and I’m thinking either he loved his actual dog or like Ron Sexsmith, he loved a fake dog. Maybe a Saint Bernard.
- “Mockingbird” Inez and Charlie Foxx. Brother and sister Inez and Charlie from Greensboro, NC wrote and recorded this huge hit in 1963. Many people mistakenly thought they were husband and wife. It was covered in 1974 by Carly Simon and James Taylor who were husband and wife.
- “Pink Rabbits” The National. Any chance I get I’ll put in The National. This is a great song from the 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me. It’s about a breakup and in this case a pink rabbit is not a pet, it’s a spiked punch made with strawberry ice cream and vodka. Tasty.
- “Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits” The Magnetic Fields. Stephin Merritt and co-band members sing this silly love song about, ah, frolicking, from their 3-volume 69 Love Songs. I think he sounds a bit like Johnny Cash. Am I crazy?
- “Ben” Michael Jackson. From the 1972 film of the same name. Michael sings this touching song to his pet rat. Of all the strange goings-on at Wonderland, Michael having a pet rat seems kind of normal.
- “Octopus’s Garden” The Beatles. This is a great song from Abbey Road,written and sung by Ringo. While I respect those who might want an octopus as a pet, I prefer mine in the form of fried calamari with a side of marinara dipping sauce.
- “Wild Horses” The Rolling Stones. From the 1971 album Sticky Fingers.I know you can’t have a wild horse as a pet unless we’re talking about the Black Stallion. I don’t care. I love the song and I needed the Stones to end this.
And there you have it–27 “pet sounds.” Enjoy! Some advice–
Don’t Forget to Disinfect… and PLAY IT LOUD!
The link again: CLICK HERE.
Paul Anka and Annette Funicello did have a liaison while they were Mousketeers. But I have no idea if that inspired him to write, “You’re Having My Baby.”
Danny Kerkhoff did bring his pet horse over to my house. And my mother was not pleased.
LAST WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
The Beach Boys v. The Eagles. In true L.A. progressive school style, there was no winner. The poll ended in a tie!
THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
Your favorite pet–dog or cat? Who you got?
Thanks so much,