When the idea first came to me, I thought this musical topic would be kind of silly (and you can guess what's up for next week's Elder Music), but as I listened, I was surprised at the variety of moods and styles of songs about man's best friend.
Jim Jackson was blues guitarist and singer in the early years of the 20th Century who had a large influence on later rock and blues musicians, including Janis Joplin. This is a scratchy old recording of Old Dog Blue. [3:03 minutes]
Another lament for a canine friend, Old Shep was recorded later by such singers as Elvis Presley and Hank Snow, but this is sung by the by the co-composer, Red Foley, originally released in 1941. If it doesn't rip out your heart, nothing will.
It's hard to overstate how popular this sing-songy song was in the early 1950s of my childhood. If you grew up during that time in the U.S., you probably still know the lyrics to the Patti Page hit, How Much is That Doggie in the Window?. [2:08 minutes]
Just about everyone knows Elvis Presley's first big hit, Hound Dog, but it was recorded earlier by Big Mama Thornton. [2:35 minutes]
Just for fun, here is Hound Dog again by Elvis at a performance in his home town of Tupelo, Mississisppi in 1957, complete with screaming girls. (Were you one of them?) [1:44 minutes]
It is impossible to ignore the title of this Johnny Cash tune from the mid-1960s: Dirty Old Egg Suckin' Dog. It's funny too. [2:09 minutes]
Although both John Lennon and Paul McCartney are credited with writing Martha My Dear from the Beatles' White Album, it is McCartney's song and said to be about his old English sheep dog – or maybe it's about his then-girlfriend, Jane Asher. I prefer the dog explanation. [2:25 minutes]
Back when Yusuf Islam was still known as Cat Stevens, he made this song a hit. I Love My Dog. [3:16 minutes]
In more recent times, Nellie McKay recorded The Dog Song which she sings and plays here at the Letterman Show. [3:07 minutes]
We end with a song from what is probably the best doggie movie ever, Lady and the Tramp, which was released in 1955. Peggy Lee wrote or co-wrote all the music for the film and here, she sings He's a Tramp. [1:19 minutes]
There are a lot of other dog songs I couldn't find online. What are your favorites?