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You know those moments in Spielberg or Lucas films where a character stares in revelatory wonder at something? Typically, whatever it is, it's bathed in white light and a feeling of warmth and security holds illimitable domain over all.
Wait! I just described either a near-death experience or Courtney Love writing a postcard description of her latest heroin fun!
But, seriously. That look of tender and mystical awe …
That’s how I get when I look at my dog, Gumbo. I can’t help it. I’m sure you look at your pets in similar rapture. That’s why we have them.
Monday, as I was driving around with Gumbo in the front seat, his head out the window and his ears flapping back like the wings of a mighty condor, the song “Me and My Arrow” erupted in my head.
That has to be the finest dog song of all time. If you haven’t heard it, it’s by Harry Nilsson from the film The Point, and the “Arrow” in the song is a kid’s dog. “Me” is the title kid, and he’s singing about the greatness of his dog. King Crimson guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew — a genius — did a terrific cover of “Me and My Arrow” on For the Love of Harry -- Everybody Sings Nilsson, which probably indicates that Belew has or had a very fine dog of his own. That would be my guess.
At the same time, how can I make a statement about the best dog song of all time when Neil Finn’s “Lester” is so tremendous? Here’s a great version of Finn performing “Lester” and explaining how the song came about.
There are a million songs, of course, with “dog” in the title, but I’m not sure how many are out there that are actually written as paeons of affection for a specific animal. I seriously doubt Iggy Pop's "I Wanna be Your Dog" is about his black lab.
Or ... songs about actual cats, for that matter. Or any pets.
Yes, it’s true John Williams wrote a song for his pet shark, which became globally famous when he loaned it to Stephen Spielberg for use in the film Jaws. But other than that ...
Anyhoo, I hope at some point to write a song in honor of Gumbo. I don’t anticipate that it will be of the brilliant quality of “Lester” or “Me and My Arrow.” But it will be as heartfelt as the similarly mediocre songs I wrote for our previous hounds, Puppy Brown and Moosie. (Respectively and cleverly titled “The Puppy Brown Song” and “The Moosie Song.”) I also wrote a tune for my late, much-loved cat, Art Bear. It’s called “The Art Bear Song.”
What about it? Can y’all think of any memorial songs about pets?
As clueless as it still seems all these years later, I enrolled at Baylor University without giving much thought to the fact that it’s a Baptist college and, as such, there would be a lot of attention paid to, well,...