Some people prefer the company of animals more than other people, while others just see them as a source of food.
Well, I can’t say which idea is correct, but I’d guess probably somewhere in the middle, like most things that are best in moderation.
Because on one hand, I think some animal rights activists go a little too far in their protests.
But on the other hand, there are definitely times when I would rather watch a good nature documentary than whatever Hollywood is producing these days.
And animals are all around us, whether in the city or the countryside most species have adapted to our ever-changing world.
In fact, I’d say there are a few things that we can learn from animals’ behavior to better ourselves.
In the music world, they can be symbols representing many things such as instinct, ferocity, freedom, grace, strength, etc.
And then some songs are simply about animals as pets, characters, or wonders of the natural world.
But just putting an animal name in the title is not going to make the grade here so songs like Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda and Elton John’s Crocodile Rock are out.
And sorry David Bowie, but that means Diamond Dogs is also going on the trash heap for today.
So if you’re ready to go into beast mode, these are some songs about animals that I think are worth a listen.
1. Sheep – Pink Floyd
This track is taken from a concept album that is all about animals and their symbolism.
And while I love Pink Floyd and I don’t mind the occasional concept album, these guys may have overdone it a little.
So I can understand why bands like The Sex Pistols said bands such as Pink Floyd were pretentious old dinosaurs in the eyes of the newer generation.
But this song about “sheep”, which I have chosen (the album also covers dogs and pigs) is an allusion to people who don’t question their situation: “Meek and obedient, you follow the leader”.
I don’t think Pink Floyd is really breaking any new ground here with this metaphor and these days there’s even a rather rude term “sheeple” for this type of person.
But I feel the song itself is pretty good and creative, even if things don’t end well for the sheep.
The Christian faith in particular is targeted with a section built around Psalm 23 from the Bible, which is then turned into “He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places. He converteth me to lamb cutlets”.
Wow, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry…
- Written by: Roger Waters
- Year Released: 1977
- Album: Animals
2. Tommy the Cat – Primus
Primus was never shy about using humor in their music and they backed it up with some musical prowess that was amazing, especially Les Claypool’s bass playing.
But to be fair, all of the musicians in the band were firing on all cylinders.
In fact, I kind of think of them as the 1990s version of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention only with bass replacing guitar as the main focus.
And this is one of my favorite songs from their catalog, following the crazy life of a cat.
But Tommy isn’t just any old cat, he’s the alpha male and he has more than food on his mind if you know what I mean.
I even think that the cartoon music video is fun, which is more than I can say for a lot of music videos. Sorry MTV, you’re just not my style.
And with none other than gravelly-voiced Tom Waits performing the spoken word parts of the song, you just can’t go wrong with this one.
- Written by: Primus
- Year Released: 1991
- Album: Sailing the Seas of Cheese
3. Animal Farm – The Kinks
Whether you love it or hate it, The Kinks had a signature sound that is instantly identifiable.
And this is one of my favorite songs that they produced, for its playful lyrics and bouncy rhythm.
But though I call it playful, there is a real longing represented here to leave behind a world that is “big and wild and half insane”. I’m pretty sure that is a reference to London by the way.
There is apparently some autobiographical truth to the lyrics and Mr. Davies just wants to be back in a dirty but simple and natural environment of a farm rather than a concrete jungle city.
And his girlfriend from the city is also invited to take a respite from the turmoil of urban life to discover that all that glitters is not gold.
Where your Eden or safe space probably depends on where you grew up, but for some people, it’s “among the cats and dogs and the pigs and the goats“.
- Written by: Ray Davies
- Year Released: 1968
- Album: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
4. Old Shep – Elvis Presley
Old babyface tried his hardest to pull on the world’s heartstrings with this tearjerker ballad.
And I’d say he was pretty successful as this track starts out with a boy and his dog in the tradition of Lassie and then takes a turn for the worse.
People often talk about a dog’s age as “dog years”, which is something like their age is equivalent to 7 years versus 1 year for a human.
This means one day the veterinarian says that Old Shep (German Shepherd) is suffering in his old age and there is no fix.
Apparently, vets didn’t have the ability to euphemistically “put animals to sleep” back then and dogs instead got a gunshot to the head.
Now even if it’s a mercy killing to end an animal’s chronic pain, that’s still pretty brutal for the pet’s owner.
And as Old Shep’s owner can’t pull the trigger, it is unclear how the dog eventually dies but we’re left with the comforting thought that Shep is up in doggie Heaven.
Well, it’s definitely a great song but I think you really have to be in the mood for the emotional roller coaster ride that it takes you on if you’re a dog lover.
- Written by: Clyde Julian Foley and Willis Arthur
- Year Released: 1956
- Album: Elvis
5. Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits – The Magnetic Fields
A lot of people envy our four-legged friends’ ability to survive by animal instinct, especially when they’re trying to fall asleep at night and their brain won’t shut off.
There are also a lot of songs (Closer by Nine Inch Nails and The Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang) that deal with that same narrowmindedness when it comes to “sexy time”.
But rabbits in particular are famously known for their ability to reproduce in great numbers.
And this short song is fun and manages to explore the subject without getting too explicit.
For some reason, I find myself coming back to enjoy this song every few years, along with about 10 other amazing tracks from the triple album it is from.
So if this is your first time hearing it, I envy you!
- Written by: Stephin Merritt
- Year Released: 1999
- Album: 69 Love Songs
40 More Great Songs About Animals
|Pigs (Three Different Ones)||Pink Floyd|
|Who Let the Dogs Out||Baha Men|
|I Want a New Duck||“Weird Al” Yankovic|
|Closer||Nine Inch Nails|
|Jungle||Electric Light Orchestra|
|Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing||Set It Off featuring William Beckett|
|White Rabbit||Jefferson Airplane|
|The Lion Sleeps Tonight||The Tokens|
|The Bad Touch||Bloodhound Gang|
|Hamster Wheel||Talib Kweli|
|The Pink Panther Theme||Henry Mancini|
|Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver||Primus|
|Shock the Monkey||Peter Gabriel|
|Kiss That Frog||Peter Gabriel|
|Hungry Like the Wolf||Duran Duran|
|Filipino Box Spring Hog||Tom Waits|
|I Am the Walrus||The Beatles|
|Kangaroo||This Mortal Coil|
|Wild Horses||The Rolling Stones|
|Stray Cat Strut||Stray Cat|
|Bark at the Moon||Ozzy Osbourne|
|Eye of the Tiger||Survivor|
|I Love My Dog||Cat Stevens|
|Me and My Monkey||Robbie Williams|
|Love Cats||The Cure|
|Werewolves of London||Warren Zevon|
|Cat Scratch Fever||Ted Nugent|
|Little Lion Man||Mumford and Sons|
|A Horse with No Name||America|
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.