Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bob Dylan’s copy of a poem about a dog is up for auction.
The need for funds has prompted Herzl Camp in Wisconsin to auction off a handwritten poem by a former camper. Robert Zimmerman wrote down the poem “Little Buddy” for the camp newspaper in 1957, when he was 16. Zimmerman has written many songs and poems since, using his better-known name of Bob Dylan. Though the poem was thought to be an original Dylan creation, it is now known to be a song written by the late Canadian country singer, Hank Snow. The disturbing lyrics tell of a little boy whose dog has died because a drunken man beat him in response to his joyful barks. Although the poem is not an original Dylan creation, the poem is one of the earliest known handwritten lyrics by the singer-songwriter and is expected to sell in the range of $10,000 to $15,000.
News: Guest Posts
Big, brown, red-nosed lament heard round the world.
He wrote the song “just for fun” about five years ago and released it on a CD of “relics” and new simple songs called The John Shipe Song Clearance. The album is a personal mix of folk, country and blues, not standard fare for Shipe, who normally plays in “serious rock bands.”
Shipe penned his song long before the Michael Vick bust and before he knew about the Bully dogs’ many challenges. “I didn’t know about breed-specific legislation or the community coming together around caring for these dogs,” Shipe said. That changed when Luv-a-Bull Pit Bull Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to re-homing unwanted Pit Bulls near Eugene, Oregon, asked to use the song for a presentation. Shipe obliged. Others asked, and soon he offered the song as a free download from his website for the cause.
“From there it just exploded,” Shipe says. Gradually more and more organizations were using it. It went international. He estimates that 1,000 people have used the song, and it’s his best known. “I made so many friends and connections from that song,” he says.
Sadly for Shipe, Zoe passed away last fall. But her legacy continues.
Learn more about Zoe, Shipe's upcoming gigs and see videos at his MySpace page.
News: Guest Posts
What’s your pup’s soundtrack?
Once your ears are tuned to one dog song (i.e., “Half-Breed Stan”), others just roll on in. Last night, during an NPR interview about his new album of banjo songs, The Crow: New Songs for 5-String Banjo, Steve Martin revealed that the inspiration for his original song, “Wally on the Run,” was his dog. Sounding a little like Bonnie and Clyde's anthem, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Martin’s riff once provided the soundtrack for his Labrador Retriever’s puppy-time habit of gunning down a hallway and bounding over some stairs. It’s easy to imagine.
I've been thinking that dogs should have their own theme songs, like when baseball players come to the plate and a signature song sets up the at-bat. That’s how they do it here for the Seattle Mariners, and I’m guessing this is standard operating procedure in the majors.
For my dog Renzo, I pick “If you want to sing out, sing out” by Cat Stevens because, like him, the song is optimistic and light-hearted. (And I think Renzo would appreciate the irony of selecting a singer-songwriter named Cat.) At 11-years-young and in peak shape, Lulu, deserves something a little more sassy (I can imagine her nap-dreaming about breakdancing), so something like, “Show me tha Money” by Petey Pablo. So what song is the perfect backup for your furry superstar?
News: Guest Posts
Does your co-pilot croon?
“Upon hearing just about any instrument, Ted immediately begins to ‘sing,’” Saeran St. Christopher tells us about the 11-year-old pup she adopted from Chihuahua rescue. “His voice, a bit wolf-howl mixed with sand and gravel, never fails to make people laugh. He cracks me up every time, and I have to send him away while I practice.” She is a flutist with The Cleveland Orchestra.
When Saeran entered Ted in Bark’s Dog Is My Co-Pilot contest, we were intrigued by the promise of song. We wanted to know—or even hear—more. Saeran and Ted obliged, recording what may be the first-ever exclusive-for-Bark singing dog video. Does this feel like the start of something to you?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Q&A with musician Moby
For the past decade, multiplatinum-selling composer Moby has been showing his affinity for dogs, cats and other critters by partnering with HSUS to raise money and awareness for animal rights programs. Among these endeavors is mobygratis, a generous trove of instrumental film music he’s written “for anyone in need of free music for their independent, nonprofit film, video, or short.” The music on mobygratis remains gratis as long as it’s used in a noncommercial, nonprofit way; if it’s licensed for a commercial film, all money generated goes to HSUS.
Bark: Why mobygratis?
Moby: Friends who are into experimental filmmaking said that one of the most difficult things is licensing music for their work. So I set up mobygratis as a way of helping students and others making these types of independent films.
B: Tell us about the music—is it mostly extra tracks?
M: In some cases, they’re extra tracks, and others, they’re pieces that I wrote specifically for the site. There’s a pretty wide range of music up there.
B: How has the response been so far?
M: Good! I haven’t really publicized it, but the music has already been used in about 3,000 different films. A few features, but for the most part, they’ve been short pieces—five to ten minutes long.
B: Why did you select HSUS?
M: I’ve worked with them quite a lot over the years. One of the things that impresses me most about them is their diligence and their persistence. And also, because they’re such a big organization, they’re actually able to accomplish a lot on a legislative level.
B: On your site, to promote your new album, you made an animated video of yourself being interviewed by a dog. Why?
M: I don’t know how to draw cats!
B: Beyond companionship, what do you think dogs teach us?
M: I’m certainly not the first person to say this, but they teach the idea of loyalty, and the capacity to find joy in just the simplest things—to be uninhibited in our emotions.
Find out more at moby.com.
Indie rocker Derek James—with his sultry voice and genuine talent— has been called a bluesy Buddy Holly for the iPod generation, and his life has been as eclectic as his music. Stray, James’s debut album, was written while he was working as a live-in nanny for a suburban New York family. At night, while the family slept, James stayed up writing songs in his basement quarters in the company of Clueless, the family dog. He repaid Clueless’s devotion by titling his album Stray and his record label Howling Clue. Nanny no more, James is now making the rounds at premier East Coast music venues.
Margaret Cho, a dear friend of Bark’s, has just released her first comedy music album, Cho Dependent. She has offered our readers an exclusive free download for one of the album’s songs, “Hey Big Dog.” Margaret tells us that the inspiration for this song came from her wish “that humans and dogs could actually speak to each other and then sing together… the song is about people problems versus dog problems, and the idea that maybe we could solve these problems together.” For this song, go to margaretcho.com/chodependent and enter “Ralph” in the “your code” box. Enjoy!
Here’s a little more about Margaret’s foray into music, a natural progression for one who has continuously tested the boundaries of humor, politics and identity. A self-confessed music geek and longtime admirer of the parodist Weird Al Yankovic, Cho collaborated with a who’s who of musical friends including Grant Lee Phillips, Ani DiFranco and Ben Lee to create her 14 track album.
Cho Dependent shines with high musical production, catchy melodies, and Margaret’s characteristic wit—“to me, it’s still about jokes,” she assures. The songs range from “I’m Sorry,” a countrified “murder ballad” to “Calling in Stoned” featuring Tommy Chong (half of the famed Cheech & Chong comedy duo). The origin of “Hey Big Dog” began with a writing partnership with Patty Griffin, the acclaimed singer-songwriter, country music stalwart and fellow dog lover. The subject of the song is Cho’s dog Ralph. “As I wrote the lyrics to this song, I sat with my big boy Ralph and imagined what he would say to me if he could speak, what he would sing to me if he could sing. I stared in his root beer eyes, as he cocked his butterscotch blonde eyebrows one then the other and tried to decipher his thoughts,” Cho recalls. The song evolved, moving from guitar accompaniment to banjo, a more mournful interpretation that coincided with Ralph’s illness and eventual death. When fellow dog lover, Fiona Apple, heard the song performed live, an instant connection was born and a new duet partner. Add Ben Lee’s pitch perfect production, and the result is what Cho refers to as “Nashville meets Animal Planet.”
The song remains a tribute to Ralph, as well as an anthem to animal lovers everywhere. Margaret Cho’s album Cho Dependent is available online and at music stores, and you can catch her live as she performs around the country through the end of the year.
Want more Margaret? You can watch a 2008 interview Bark did with Margaret here.
Singer-songwriter Mary Ann Kennedy
Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Mary Ann Kennedy pursues every venture with passion, whether it’s supplying soulful backup for legendary musicians or expressing her love of animals through song. Discovered by Sting, she’s well known both as one-half of the duo Kennedy-Rose and for her songwriting and vocal work with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride and Faith Hill. Kennedy once again combines her love of music with her lifelong passion for pets in her latest album, Who Saved Who.
Kennedy’s albums are inspired by a lifetime of relationships with horses and dogs, and celebrate the lives of her late pets Tonka and Choy. Who Saved Who is an uplifting collection of pieces uncovering the deep bond between humans and dogs. “Part of what is so beautiful about dog love,” she says, “is that it is so pure and simple—much simpler than human relationships!” Kennedy says these songs allowed her to come to terms with the loss of her animals, and that hearing them gave listeners “‘permission’ to grieve in a world that didn’t acknowledge the depths they were feeling.”
Besides entertaining dog lovers everywhere, Kennedy plans to donate a generous portion of the album proceeds to rescue groups, with the message “spay, neuter, adopt!” Her hope for Who Saved Who is to “reach the ears and hearts of many who feel as I do,” and to give back to “organizations that work around the clock to make the world better for so many creatures.”
A rare match
IIt's the rare match of musical styles and inspiration that makes Nellie McKay's new release Normal As Blueberry Pie a tribute to her longtime heroine Doris Day so perfect. The two have been linked since the young singer burst upon the scene, as critics scrambled to note her musical kinship.
So it's only natural that McKay's new CD (on Verve) would showcase an array of Day standards-interpretations of such classics as "The Very Thought of You," "Send Me No Flowers" and "Sentimental Journey." "We were trying to connect with the many time periods in Doris's life," McKay explains. "From the big bands to the post-McCarthy era."
Music is just one of the elements that bind the two-McKay is a longtime admirer of Doris Day's animal advocacy. "Doris was out there way before it was fashionable, fighting for the well-being and humane treatment of all animals," McKay notes respectfully. An avid activist herself, McKay is a vegan, active in the fight against New York's horse-drawn carriages and a longtime animal rescuer. The two dogs lounging with the singer on her new album cover are Hank and Bessie, whom McKay has been fostering for several months. "These dogs light up my life. After a show, it's really relaxing to take them out for a walk-good for them and me, too."
Bark had the foresight to pair Nellie and Doris when we interviewed Ms. Day for these pages in 2006. Just what is it that makes Doris Day so special? "I was initially attracted to her optimism and her gaiety," McKay says. "Her approach to life is irresistible." Day possesses a trait that McKay is often cited for, a sunny but subversive smile. "The people most in need of Doris Day are the cynics," McKay observes. "She's such a breath of fresh air. People need that today."
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