“Hot town, summer in the city,
Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty.
Been down, isn’t it a pity,
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.”
“All around, people looking half dead,
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.”
Lovin’ Spoonful 1966
Praise the Lord that the hotter than a match head, “dog days of summer” will melt away in just three or four weeks. The hottest, most sultry days of the year, those half dead, lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer will soon yield to the more pleasant, peppy, crisp, dry days of autumn.
Have you ever stopped to wonder — Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?” Just where does that term come from?
In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars, which later came to be known as constellations.
They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor).
The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun.
During late July, Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
This week’s music trivia question is: Can you name the 1950s-’60s artist who recorded the following “dog songs” (which more than likely he wrote during the “dog days of summer)” — “The Dog,” “Walking the Dog,” “Somebody Stole My Dog” and “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog?”
This singer/songwriter/choreographer was born in 1917 in Mississippi and raised in Memphis, Tenn. By age 10, he was a tap dancer, performing in amateur productions at Memphis’ Booker T. Washington High School.
He attended one semester at Tennessee A&I University, but due to economic conditions, left to pursue a career as a professional entertainer, joining up in 1936 with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, an all-black revue that toured the South.
He first recorded for Star Talent in 1943. In addition to his recording career, he was a DJ for WDIA-Memphis from 1953-74.
In 1963, at the age of 46, this rhythm & blues, funk and soul singer landed his first of four “dog songs,” “The Dog” on both Billboard’s Pop and R&B charts. Later that year, he scored his only Top 10 hit with “Walking the Dog,” which was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In addition to his “canine songs,” this artist also recorded a number of songs about other animals, including “Do the Funky Chicken,” “Bear Cat,” “Do the Funky Penguin,” “Chicken Scratch” “Tiger Man,” and “The Funky Bird.”
Was this “dog” artist A) Rufus Thomas, B) Scot Terrier, C) Pete Bull, or D) Jermaine Shepherd?
If you’re the fifth caller this week and have the correct answer, you’ll win a bow-wow of a terrific prize — a $25 gift certificate for a free dog grooming (small dogs only) from Louise, owner of the Mutt Boutique. Louise says, “We have warm hearts for cold noses.”
Now, let’s check out how we did with last week’s music trivia question, which asked you to match three well-known Motown artists with their hit songs. The correct matches were:
The Supremes — “Baby Love”
Martha & The Vandellas — “Heat Wave”
Gladys Knight & The Pips — “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
Congratulations to this past week’s four-time music trivia winner, Mari Janecek of Payson.
It’s been a number of months since Mari, a big music fan, last won, so we spent a few minutes discussing how her life has been going since we last chatted. She was happy to tell me that she and her husband, Jim, attended seven of the eight recently ended concerts in the park, where she and Jim, for the first time in 30 years, enjoyed a dance together on the crowded dance floor.
DJ Craig Phone: 468-1482
Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com