When discussing animals in song, it is important to distinguish between a track that uses an animal as a metaphor - for freedom or wildness, usually - and a song that is actually about an animal. We will be exploring the latter in this month's animal-style Nitpick Six series. Here are the six best songs about cats. Let us know your favorite kitty tunes, and unlike an overflowing shelter, we won't kill your comment if it shows up on our doorstep without proper identification.
6. Primus - "Tommy The Cat" "Tommy The Cat" is not a perfect song, but it's perfect for Primus. The cartoonish subject matter is an ideal match for Les Claypool's narration - think Boomhauer from King Of The Hill speaking legibly through a CB radio. The "Tommy" protagonist always reminds me of a copyright-free Felix, which makes Claypool's slap bass fills sound like he's auditioning for a staff position in the Warner Brothers sound-effects studio. While the "Hey baby, do you wanna lay down with me?" chorus breaks kitty character - mating between felines is rarely sensual or consensual - it is the best hook in the Primus catalog.
5. The Stray Cats - "Stray Cat Strut" When a band put its own name in the title of a song, it becomes an assumed mission statement. "Stray Cat Strut" is no exception. Like "Tommy The Cat," this track musically and lyrically embodies cattitude. While Primus focused on the animal's mischievous nature, The Stray Cats personified the slinking coolness of an alley explorer. "Stray Cat Strut" is Heathcliff wearing a leather jacket. Brian Setzer is not hip (revisit the "Jump Jive And Wail" video if you require confirmation), but for a period in the early 1980s he was legit - or he had the world fooled. 4. Harry S. Miller - "The Cat Came Back" Even disregarding its terribly racist original title, "The Cat Came Back" is a folk classic with a dark underbelly. The song details a kitty who, despite all efforts of the storytellers, will not disappear. The recurring chorus is set in stone, but the verses are up for interpretation; it's like the "Aristocrats" joke in song form. Performers have taken disturbing measures to get rid of the pesky critter. Garrison Keillor put him in front of a firing squad. Sonny James sent him to space. The Muppets placed him in a car accident. Even the family friendly singer Raffi tried to blow him up with dynamite. But like Superman and Keith Richards, the cat simply will not die.
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