Ninety-one percent of pet owners consider their animals to be family, and more than half think of their furry family members as their children. With numbers like these, it should come as no surprise that musically inclined pet owners have penned songs in their pets’ honor.
We’ve rounded up 10 such songs and the stories of the pets that inspired them. Some celebrate lifelong companionship with man’s best friend, while others are melancholy melodies about the loss of a feline companion. There’s even a song about a goldfish.
The Beatles 'Martha My Dear'
Paul McCartney wrote "Martha My Dear" as a piano exercise, but it was later released on the White Album. The song was inspired by McCartney's love for his Old English sheepdog, which he adopted in 1965. Although there was speculation that the song was about longtime love interest Jane Asher, in 1977 he revealed that his dog Martha was the song's true inspiration. "Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it's actually a dog, and our relationship was platonic, believe me," he said.
Norah Jones 'Man of the Hour'
Norah Jones' fourth studio album, "The Fall," was released in 2009 and featured a ballad she penned for the four-legged man in her life. However, the Saint Bernard on the album cover isn't Jones' "man of the hour" — that title belongs to her poodle, Ralph, who she says would have caused chaos had he been allowed on set.
Freddie Mercury 'Delilah'
Dogs may be man's best friend, but Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was a cat person through and through. He kept several cats, whom he reportedly called home to talk to when he was on tour. His first solo album, "Mr. Bad Guy" was even dedicated to those who shared his appreciation for felines. The dedication read, "to my cat Jerry — also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe — screw everybody else." Mercury even made his love for cats known on the Queen album "Innuendo," which features a song about one of his favorite feline friends, a tortoise shell cat named Delilah.
Elvis 'Old Shep'
Country singer Red Foley wrote this song in 1933 about his childhood German shepherd, Hoover, who was poisoned by a neighbor. He recorded the song several times, but the classic country song was also recorded by other musicians, including the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself.
Suicide Machines 'Sometimes I Don't Mind'
Punk band Suicide Machines wrote this song about a Boston terrier and contains such memorable lines as "There's something with the way you act/Makes me laugh when you chase the cats/You chase 'em around/And when it's close to feeding time, you stare at me and whine."
Queen 'All Dead, All Dead'
It seems Freddie Mercury wasn't Queen's only cat lover. Guitarist Brian May wrote and sang this song about coming to terms with the death of his childhood cat.
"Penelope" is a song by indie rock band Pinback about the death of bass guitarist Zach Smith's pet goldfish. In 2002, singer Rob Crow posted this explanation on Yahoo: "Penelope is a real fish that Zach has that constantly hovers around the top of the goldfish bowl and could never make all the way to the bottom without a major struggle. Zach has always had a problem keeping fish alive, so i called the pet store and they said that either she had swallowed to much air and would expel it within day and be fine, or she had dropsy which is a disease that fish get where their lungs swell up and she would die in a couple weeks. But, even though she STILL hovers up there and constantly floats back up to the top, she's doing fine. You go girl." Unfortunately, Penelope died in December 2002.
Henry Gross 'Shannon'
Singer-songwriter Henry Gross' hit song "Shannon" was written about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson's beloved dog of the same name. Wilson was battling depression when he was introduced to the lively Irish setter, but the dog helped him find happiness. Sadly, one day Shannon was carried out to sea, which crushed Wilson.
Cat Stevens 'I Love My Dog'
This song was the British singer's first single and was released in 1966. It contains the memorable line, "I love my dog as much as I love you /But you may fade, my dog will always come through."
The Dillards 'Old Blue'
This folk song about a beloved hunting dog is believed to have originated in Mississippi during the 19th century. A variety of artists have recorded the song, including Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and The Dillards.
More pet stories on MNN:
- Dog memoirs worth a read
- The truth about cat people and dog people
- Animal psychologists discover the music that pets prefer