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Pet Songs

By Patrick Mondout

No decade so universally loved and loathed for its musical contributions to Civilization would be complete without heartfelt odes to pets. So whip out your pooper-scoopers and get ready to reminisce.

 

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Ben by Michael Jackson
Before he took an unusual interest in chimps in the Awesome80s, Jacko sang this ode to a rat. Why? "Ben" was also the name of an early Super70s horror movie about rats that invade a town and the little boy who befriends the king rat. Before you totally dismiss this song, take a deep breath and note that this was Jackson's first #1 hit as a solo act! It must have been the lyrics:

"Ben, most people would turn you away
I don't listen to a word they say
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like Ben
"

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Shannon by Henry Gross
Henry Gross' biggest hit was a tale of a dead dog. It howled its way to the top ten in the spring of 1976 as a memorial to Carl Wilson's (yes, he of the Beach Boys) Red Setter. For any child of the Super70s who lost a pet this tearjerker can still be an emotional Vesuvius:

"Mama tries to hard to pretend
Things will get better again
Somehow she's keeping it all inside her
But finally the tears fill her eyes
And I know somehow tonight
She knows how much we miss her
."

And speaking of dogs dying, if you are not easily offended and don't mind listening to some rather harsh language, listen to this outtakeHear Casey uncharacteristically LOSE IT! from Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show. WARNING: This contains explicit language.
BONUS POINTS: Two hundred bonus points for remembering that Carl Wilson sang backup vocals on this track (take an additional 200 if you knew Henry Gross toured with the Beach Boys). Five hundred points for recognizing Gross as the original lead guitarist of 50's tribute band Sha-Na-Na. 1000 bonus points and a copy of Stephen King's Pet Semetery for recalling his only other top 40 hit: "Springtime Mama." 

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Wildfire by Michael Murphey
"Wildfire" is for horse lovers what "Shannon" was to dog lovers. For those with a morbid curiosity, a horse named Wildfire is lost in a blizzard and its owner dies while searching for the horse:

"Oh they say she died one winter
When there came a chilling frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard he was lost
She ran calling Wildfire
"

"Wildfire" is one of the most hated and loved songs of the Super70s. It features an excellent instrumental track written by Larry Cansler and love-them-or-hate-them-with-a-passion lyrics by Michael Murphey. It also contains a reference to the a hoot-owl. What a hoot! Murphey, who changed his stage name to Michael Martin Murphy in 1984, jockeyed this song all the way to number three in the summer of 1975.

There is lyric near the end of this song which is often misheard. Rather than explain what I used to think he was singing, I'll just give you the actual lyric:
"We're gonna ride...
We're gonna leave... sod-bustin' behind
"
I don't pretend to know what sod or bustin' (in this context anyway) are. (But one of our readers does.)
BONUS POINTS: 250 points and a trip to the glue factory if you recall Murphey's previous chart entry, "Geronimo's Cadillac."

With all this talk of dead dogs and dead horses, you are probably wondering where "Dead Skunk" or perhaps "Muskrat Love" are. Sadly, only a click away: We decided to cover those in our Novelty Hits of the Super70s page.

 

Share Your Memories!

Is Pet Songs one of your favorite albums? What interesting or amusing stories can you tell? Wanna write a review? Share your stories (or your reviews) with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Shannon, by Henery Gross is my all time favorite song! I was 16 years old at this time this song came out. At 16, these were the best years of my life. I had a boyfriend named, (Mike) at this time and this was our song because it really hit home with our pets. To this day, when I see him out in public, He calls me (Shannon)! Thank you for the chance to share this!"

--Shannon

"You forgot Old Shep by the late great Elvis Presley. The tale of a boy and his dog, and when eventually the dog gets old and ill and the vet can't do anything for the dog the boy takes his gun and has to go shoot him. A sad song."

--memphisminstrel

"There is always Ma And You And A Dog Named Boo by Lobo. [Editor's note: Oh! How could have missed that one the first time around?]"

--Jim H.

"On the song Wildfire: "Sod-bustin" is another term for the lifestyle of those who lived in the prairies of Kansas and Nebraska in the 1800's. The grass and prairies were called sod and to farm them you had to "bust" them up, due to their high root density. Because of over-farming this area, or "sod-busting" it, the Dustbowl of the 1930's occurred and many people moved to California for work. Their accents mingled with those of native Californians and the "Valley-girl" accent was born."

--Anonymous

Looking for a rare import-only single, a gold record, world tour book, hard to find magazine, an autographed guitar, or simply this CD? You'll find them at eBay!


 

MUSICAL NOTES

Our favorite: Dead Skunk


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