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by Raymond Cummings

August 18, 2013

Dog Day Songs

by Raymond Cummings  |  August 18, 2013

The so-called "dog days" of summer typically arrive late in the season, in August. Why refer to them as dog days? At least one good reason is that a person's reaction to intense heat and humidity on a city street is not unlike that of an overheated canine: huffing, puffing, quaking, only marginally voluntary. So we've prepared a dog-centric playlist for your next cruise to the ice-cream shack, ice-skating rink or the deep-freeze movie theater. Give your dog a bone, though: Leave him or her at home, where there's air conditioning and a big bowl of water.

Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" may be the Grand Poobah of dog songs, because it is almost rabidly uninterested in decorum or any notion of cool; if you're screaming along to this song while punching the ceiling of your car, you may as well be a collie dragging your tongue along a sidewalk. "Lassie with the Golden Hair" is a traditional Celtic song, but given that most folks will associate it with television's Lassie, Tangerine Dream's version rates our list.

Instrumental pet pup ode "Old Shep" might be Elvis Presley at his most primly school-marmish -- so level-headed, it's kind of crazy -- while the early DMX anthem "Get at Me Dog" demonstrates why the man born Earl Simmons identifies so closely with man's purported best friends. George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" funks so insistently that there's no way to take anything seriously while it's on.

At the far distant end of the shamelessness spectrum, meanwhile, The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" traffics in a coded punk cool that places it near the fringes of canine soundtrack validity, while Florence & the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over" is mannered in a way that sweat-stain ennui never is.

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