It’s the dog days of summer and the best and safest way to travel during this unusual year is by car. But if you’re planning a road trip, you should also have a great road trip songs. And if dogs are coming along, why not include a few song about man’s best friend? Although these featured songs aren’t everyone, it can at least give you some ideas.
Cracker Jack (1974) – Dolly Parton
Cracker Jack tells the story about a child named Lucy Jane who finds an abandoned puppy dog found along a riverbank. As cute as can be with a spot around one eye, Cracker Jack quickly becomes Lucy Jane’s faithful companion. Included on Dolly Parton’s landmark album Jolene, Cracker Jack is also the name of a television episode from her 2019 Netflix series Heartstrings. In the program, it is sadly revealed that Cracker Jack dies after being bitten by a rattlesnake. The legendary country western singer loves animals so much that she also made a PETA advertisement. In that ad, she has her song Will He Be Waiting For Me.
Hey Bulldog (1969) – The Beatles
Appearing on the Yellow Submarine album, this upbeat tune was originally intended to have lyrics about a frog. But the song’s title changed after Paul McCartney misread John Lennon’s handwriting. Not realizing it was “hey bullfrog” McCartney barked like a dog during the recordings. Lennon liked it so much, he kept it in for the final pressing. Even if you try to Google “Hey Bullfrog” you’ll get the YouTube video for “Hey Bulldog”. Either way, sheepdog, bulldog and bullfrog all appear in the lyrics. On a side note, Yellow Submarine was originally one of the songs that appeared on the Revolver album. It wasn’t until the following year that the namesake album became a hit.
Hound Dog (1952) – Big Mama Thornton
Although there’s a more recognizable version, the first ever recording of “Hound Dog” was performed by Big Mama Thornton. Moreover, the song written by teenagers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was originally intended for Mama Thornton. One of the earliest songs to fuse R&B with rock and roll, Hound Dog has been recorded more than 250 times. The most notable is of course, the 1956 version by Elvis Presley. In fact, this early Elvis hit is said to be one of the best selling singles of all time. Furthermore, “Hound Dog” also ranks among Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest songs of all time.
I Love My Dog (1966) – Cat Stevens
Released early in his career, I Love My Dog was the first single ever by Cat Stevens. He tells a poignant story about a time when he finds an abandoned dachshund. The story continues as he takes him in and describes his love for his dog as much “as you”. Although this early song received minor attention, Stevens became best known for hit songs in the 70s, like Moonshadow, Morning Has Broken and Peace Train. What’s more, he’s a 2014 inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In addition, he’s a 2019 inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Martha My Dear (1968) – The Beatles
From the White Album, the lively Martha My Dear had fans wondering who Paul McCartney was singing about. Many presumed it was written for his ex girlfriend Jane Asher, who had recently broken off their engagement. But according to Paul, the song was actually about his beloved English Sheepdog, Martha. His loyal dog companion lived until 15 years old, passing away at Paul’s famous home in Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Of course, if you’re a big fan of McCartney’s Wings, you know that he wrote a song about this home.
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Me And You And A Dog Named Boo (1971) – Lobo
Clearly outdated for the younger crowd, this song still has lyrics that any contemporary road tripper can appreciate. The debut single by American solo artist Lobo, he sings about “travelin’ and livin’ off the land” with his faithful dog Boo. The song takes Lobo and Boo on a cross country trip while encountering summer rain in Georgia and bright lights in LA. Lobo followed up with several other records, including his No. 2 hit I’d Love You To Want Me. On a side note, Lobo has had a large fanbase outside of the United States. In fact, he has been very popular in Southeast Asia.
Old Blue (1969) – The Byrds
An old folk song that dates back to the late 19th century, Old Blue has been covered by dozens of music artists. The most popular version about an old hound dog came from the 60s rock band The Byrds. According to the lyrics, Old Blue chased an opossum up a tree but didn’t fare so well. The song appeared on the band’s album Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. Only two of the five original members of the band contributed to the album. Old Blue has also been recorded by Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and JJ Cale.
Old King (1992) – Neil Young
From his acclaimed album Harvest Moon, Neil Young sings about his travels on a tour bus with his hound dog named Elvis. Changing his name in the lyrics to “avoid confusion” Young says Old King got lost when chasing after a deer. Despite making attempts to locate the dog, King never returned and as Young once described was “riding on Jimi Hendrix’s bus”. Occasionally, Neil Young will play this song live in concert. In fact, he performed it at the 2004 Farm Aid show.
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The Promised Land (1978)– Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s anthemic song only mentions about “the dogs on Main Street ’cause they understand”. But The Promised Land was a better choice here than say The Monkee’s Gonna Buy Me A Dog or Patti Page’s How Much Is That Doggie In the Window. And especially for a 2020 summer music playlist. From the album Darkness On The Edge Of Town, this song chronicles Springsteen’s road trip to Utah and Nevada from a year earlier.
Who Let The Dogs Out (2000) – Baha Men
A longtime staple at sporting events, Who Let The Dogs Out was a wildly popular when it hit the airwaves. Performed by the Bahamian group Baha Men, the song earned a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2001. Love or hate it, Who Let The Dogs Out was one of the most popular songs of the decade and its YouTube video has nearly 63.5 million views. Although this song seems out of place, it’s among the most familiar of all dog songs.
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About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. His other stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.