Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are here! During the summer, the weather generally becomes hot and dry and, during the month of August, especially so. That is why those days are referred to as being “The Dog Days of Summer.” Generally, the term refers to the hottest days of August and the name actually comes from the Canis Major (or Great Dog) constellation, as well as one of its stars, Sirius, the brightest star of the summer sky. Exactly during the first two weeks of August, the sun enters the constellation Canis Major and, from this, the term Dog Days was derived. Does it mean that it’s so hot outside that even the dogs lay around and pant? Heat during the “Dog Days” of summer is actually a direct result of the Earth’s tilt. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth causes the sun’s rays to hit at a more direct angle, and for a longer period of time throughout the day. What does that mean for us? Longer, hotter days! So why not sit back, relax, sip something cool and listen to a few fun and interesting songs all about “Dogs!”

1. Martha is a sweet song written by Beatle Paul McCartney and is about his own beloved dog. What can I say except it’s pretty amazing!

2. Old King, by Neil Young is a beautifully appropriate eulogy to his own “best old hound dog” he ever did know. This song was from his 1992 album and is still played a lot today.

3. Dolly Parton released Gypsy, Joe and Me in 1969 on her album “My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy.” It’s a very sad song with a surprisingly upbeat tempo and is the reminiscence of a woman who lost her first dog, Gypsy, and then her man, Joe, to tragic circumstances. The song ends with the woman standing on a bridge contemplating jumping, with the last line being, “Tonight we’ll be together again, Gypsy, Joe and Me.”

4. Rufus Thomas’ Walking the Dog has a simple lyric about a presumably attractive woman dressed in black taking her dog for a walk. The tune is interspersed with nonsense and nursery rhymes. Released in 1963 on the Stax label, the song was Rufus Thomas’ biggest hit. Why? Because of Thomas’ gritty vocal and the incredible groove laid down by Booker T and the MGs who, along with The Band, are possibly the greatest self-contained back-up band of all time. It’s just fun!

5. I Love My Dog was actually written by singer/songwriter Cat Stevens and was his first single. He wrote the lyrics to the music of American Jazz multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef’s song, “The Plum Blossom.” Cat Stevens’ recording peaked the music charts in the UK at No. 28 and remained on the charts for seven weeks in 1966. The Monkees, of television fame, helped make the song popular when they sang it on their show that ran from 1966 to 1971.

6. Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog is a song mostly everyone knows. Big Mama Thornton first recorded this Leiber-Stoller song in 1952 but it was Elvis Presley who got the song from Freddy Bell and the Bellboys, who had rewritten the words, that made this a huge hit. In fact, the song became the biggest hit song of Elvis’ career!

7. Bingo. This very popular camp and children’s song is a folk song of obscure origin. The earliest reference to any form of the song is from the title of a piece of sheet music published in 1780 which attributed the song to William Swords, an actor at the Haymarket Theatre of London. That version was called, “The Farmer’s Dog Leapt over the Stile,” or, “Little Bingo.”

8. Doggie in the Window is a very popular novelty song. It is published as having been written by Bob Merrill in 1952 and is loosely based on the folk tune, “Carnival of Venice.” It is also loosely based on the song, “Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone.” Originally sung by Lita Roza, who called the song, “rubbish,” she only sang the song once and that was for the recording of it. She never sang the song again in her life. In fact, she was so against recording the song that the studio had to placate her by buying her a new Hoover vacuum cleaner! When, however, Patti Page recorded her version of the song in December of 1952 with the Jack Rael Orchestra, the song became a HUGE hit!

Just for fun: Can you name the three most famous dogs of all?

The answer is:

1. Toto – a Cairn Terrier

2. Rin Tin Tin – a German Shepherd

3. Lassie – a Rough Collie.

By Diana Blidy