It’s a dog’s life
Now that you’ve turned off your TV and finished watching the Oscars, let me ask you something: do you really think that AR Rahman-Gulzar’s Slumdog Millionaire number Jai ho was worth that much? At least Rahman-M I A’s O Saya was a full-fledged song, rather than an exclamation with Vangelis-type music. But then, who am I to judge matters of taste?
Instead, post-Slumdog action at the Oscars, let me distract myself –– and, for a few minutes, you –– by giving you a lowdown on my five best ‘dog’ songs.
1. I wanna be your dog: In 1969, while the Beatles were cutting intricate songs for Abbey Road, Stooges frontman Iggy Pop was cranking up and pumping out this distorted, legs-sawed-off mind-bender. The song’s used perfectly in a pivotal, inebriated scene in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Three notes –– G, F#, E –– keep the song welded together as this proto-punk classic drives one message home: Now I’m ready to close my eyes/And now I’m ready to close my mind/And now I’m ready to feel your hand/And lose my heart on the burning sands /And now I wanna be your dog/And now I wanna be your dog. And then it dawns on you: Iggy’s sneer is a love song.
2. Stardog champion: Only a few days before the release of their first album in March 1990, Apple, Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood died of heroin overdose. The second song on this album stood out as a sonic echo of Andy himself: brash, swaggering and rockstar-like. The song is glam rock with the armies of grunge approaching –– thus it’s dark, shiny lustre, fading out in a spooky Village-of-the-Damned-style children’s la-la-lala, la-la, lala chorus.
3. Hey bulldog: Fourth song (‘on Side 1’) on the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine sounds pretty menacing to me even today. With a piano opening that’s the chunkiest in White Pop-Rock, John Lennon’s sneery-poo of a song sounds like one of two things: a ‘fight-with-your-girlfriend/boyfriend’ song’ (Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles/What make you think you’re something special when you smile); or an Alcoholics Anonymous anthem (You can talk to me/You can talk to me/If you’re lonely, you can talk to me). The song was almost called, Hey bullfrog though.
4. Walking the dog: The 1963 Rufus Thomas original has a brisk pug’s walk feel to it. But it’s the 1975 Roger Daltrey version, in his post-Who album Ride a Rock-Horse (the one in which he’s a centaur on the cover),that’s a breathy hand-clapping gem. And let’s face it, the words –– Baby back/Dressed in black/Silver buttons all down her back/High hose, tippy toes/She broke the needle and she can sew/Walking the dog/I’m just a walking the dog/If you don’t know how to do it/I’ll show you how to walk the dog –– are a total turn-on.
5. Smack my bitch up: Prodigy got slapped for being ‘misogynistic’ in this 1997 hardcore electropunk-breakbeat number. The band defended itself by saying that the term was urban slang for doing anything intensely. I certainly agree. As does the bloke who put the song in a particularly kick-ass fight sequence in the film, Charlie’s Angels. Desi girl (from Colchester) Shahin Badar provides a precarious balance to the Liam Howlett-Keith Flint classic with her ‘Indian vocals’ in the song.