Dogs have been a part of my life since I was a child, so it’s only fitting that they have their own day. Certainly you couldn’t ask for better companions, and one characteristic dogs share with musicians is their love of the limelight. Although some dogs might be camera-shy, many are just the opposite and happily ham it up for the lens. (Gracie, my Newfoundland, was happy to pose for the cover photo)
“Hound Dog” (1952) –“Big Mama” Thornton
As man’s best friend, dogs are the subject of many songs, although one of the most memorable and often recorded tunes, “Hound Dog”, does not portray our canine friends in the best light. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952 specifically for Blues singer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, “Hound Dog” was a Rhythm & Blues hit when it was released by Peacock Records in 1953. Note how the lyrics are quite different from later versions.
“Hound Dog” (1956) — Elvis Presley
The song was covered by many groups in the next few years, including Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. In 1956, a young Elvis Presley and his band took in the Bellboys show in Las Vegas which featured their more uptempo version of “Hound Dog.” Elvis loved the song and performed it on the Milton Berle TV show in June, 1956.
“Hound Dog” (2016) — Dave Bennett
This song’s enduring popularity as a rock ‘n’ roll standard is demonstrated in this excerpt from the October 2016 performance by Dave Bennett (on piano and vocals) and the Philly Pops at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. (check out my review of the Sunday night performance).
Don’t wait until the next National Dog Day to enjoy your own favorite dog songs!
And cats, your day is coming soon on October 29th!