I’ve been concentrating on elephants a lot of late, thanks to the elephant parade in London and my attempts to get all 258 on camera, something that I completed on Monday – see my flickr set for more detail (click on Impossiphant).
Anyway, – they’ve inspired me to think of songs about animals. That’s actual or metaphorical, either apply here. Many bands have named themselves after animals (Swans, Kittie, Tortoise are three very different bands that spring to mind), so I’ve discounted them, actually looking for songs that reference animals in some way or another.
Perhaps a little surprisingly, I thought of way more than ten pretty quickly. Most of those not mentioned in the ten are on the Spotify playlist, along with the ones that did make the final ten.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
Well, given the inspiration for this week, where else was I going to start, eh? 🙂 Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley’s rather odd side project may be good fun, but it has produced once truly great song, in this. I defy you to keep this out of your head once you’ve heard it. Plainly and simply, it’s a fun little ode to this magnificent (and omnipotent, eloquent, intelligent…just listen to the song, yes?) animal. Oh, and it’s better than The Toy Dolls’ cover of Nellie The Elephant, that’s for sure.
/The Presidents of the United States of America
Still with silly songs about animals, here’s a marvellous track from a band whose wacky humour quickly tired, but this is one of three songs I can still recall (and enjoy) from their debut. A lyrical subject that I’m sure will resonate with anyone who has had a pet cat, it’s the tale of a to-begin-with bedraggled, beloved pet who is let in from the rain, and who then overstays his welcome by scratching him. Oops. It’s worth it for the punchline, at least.
/Where The Pigs Don’t Fly
The use of pigs as a metaphor is a common one, it seems. Both Suede and Nine Inch Nails used the imagery more than once, to suggest those who are downtrodden and filthy – despite this image being a common misconception about the animals. Anyway, while We Are The Pigs was a strong comeback track for Suede, frankly their other track referencing the animal – the early B-side Where The Pigs Don’t Fly – is a much, much better track. A slow-burning, sprawling epic looking at the messy lives of those, in US parlance, from the wrong side of the tracks.
/March of the Pigs
/The Downward Spiral
NIN featured two songs referencing Pigs on the same album, of course, and again one was vastly stronger than the other. Piggy was a solid album track, presumably a negative reference to someone in authority, but the rampaging March of the Pigs is always the one that sticks in the memory. An anthem – or maybe more stampede – of the downtrodden to take back their place in society, and to no longer be those at the bottom (i.e. the pigs). Try as I might, I’ve not managed to find a more positive song about pigs. Hopefully someone can help.
I’d be lying if I said I truly knew what Tanya Donnelly was on about here. But then, sometimes the song is good enough not to worry too much about it, and this is one of those. Remember Belly? One of the many, many alt-rock bands of the early nineties that broke through for a brief while – and closely connected to Throwing Muses and the Breeders, this album is still damned good, and is certainly worth another listen – in my case, it’s been years since I last heard this. Oh, and incidentally, I’ve seen suggested that the mangy subject of the song is a metaphor for drug addiction…
/Hounds of Love
/Hounds of Love
Still with dogs (no, not Snoop Dogg, although I guess his constant referencing of dog(g)s probably counts somewhere along the line)), how about dreams of being chased by a pack of hounds while musing about falling in love? Kate Bush never was quite like other singer-songwriters, was she, and the thunderous drumming on this track rules.
Trust The Cramps to take things that little bit weirder. Imagining himself as a hybrid of human and insect, Lux Interior made himself sound even weirder for two minutes than we already thought he was. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one hell of a feat. A goth dancefloor (or was it just the Phono?) staple, of course, too…
/At the Zoo
A rather strange song about a trip to the zoo, and watching the animals. As you do. Orangutans are sceptical, don’t you know – I’ve honestly got little more to say about this. Other than that it makes me want to visit London Zoo sooner rather than later, and maybe to stay off the drugs.
Or, “goat sucker”, in English – an urban legend in Central America that arose when animals started being found dead and drained of blood. A serious and scary issue, perhaps, and somehow the Super Furries managed to turn it into a gleeful, 90 second punky throwaway with a football-chant chorus.
/Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)
Finally, a neat little reference to the dog sent into space by the Russians, and Laika is used here in comparison to the character in the song, whose parents would perhaps like him to follow in the footsteps of Laika into space, never to return…