Not long ago I was introduced to a meditation channel. It is not the sort of thing I would seek out on my own, but I actually sat and listened to it for a few minutes. Within a very short time it had formed a reminiscence of the Pink Floyd song from their famed LP Ummagumma, Grantchester Meadows. I then forced myself to sit and listen to some more of this channel. I came to a conclusion. Someone identified the need to create one of these channels (actually there are several) and there are people checking in. This can not be a bad thing if it leads to more people finding their chill and not being such colossal dicks all the time. Or…they could just listen to some Floyd!
There are certain standout pieces from the band’s portfolio which appear with regularity in my various playlists. Dark Side of the Moon in it’s entirety, of course, and select tracks from their other LPs. As I was caused to make a review of these I made a discovery that rather surprised me. There were no tracks from the Animals LP on any of the lists. Naturally my reaction was to cue it up and give it a listen.
The first time I ever heard anything from the album was quite probably some time in February of 1977. We were in the midst of what was up to that time the coldest winter of the twentieth century. In my bedroom above the garage I huddled about the heat register in the floor, a blanket wrapped around to contain the warm air. It was probably in this fashion that I sat huddled in the dark, next to a small radio and listened to a WCOL-FM DJ introduce Pigs (three different ones). Upon revisiting the full LP I am still of the opinion that this is indeed the most striking track of the album, both lyrically and musically.
Though it is hardly February and nowhere near to record-breaking cold temperatures, the change of season has brought with it no shortage of grey, miserably damp, chill days upon which to spend contemplating these weighty matters. I happened to have at hand an intriguing new strain from my botanist, the Montana Flowering Dogweed, which I employed to good use for the occasion. Both were consumed in the dark, save for the light of the fire. Pink Floyd has always served as a fine soundtrack for any blaze.
For those who are unfamiliar, and those who may have simply forgotten, Pigs (three different ones) was on side two of the original vinyl. The lead off of the LP is the plaintive Pigs on the Wing, followed then by the stark and brooding piece Dogs. Perhaps it is somehow connected to that cold place where I first listened to this work, but I found that the song Dogs takes me to a very cold, dark and distant place.
Beginning at the 6:14 mark of side one there is a segment of about 45 seconds where there are the barks and howls of various hounds. Where I sat enjoying this my dog, Matthau, was at my feet and I noted his ears prick up slightly at this point. In the idle chatter one often engages with their pets I asked ” Well, old boy! Know what they’re saying, do you?” He gave me one of those looks, as dogs sometimes will, which seemed to question my sanity. He raised his massive head to snuff once at the smoke billowing from the glass bong and then rose from the floor to pad across the room and take a seat in the chair opposite. I wasn’t expecting an answer and his behavior, though somewhat odd, was not entirely out of the ordinary. Then he began to speak.
” The dogs, yes… they do go on there a bit, don’t they? Rather funny, that….”
He was sounding a bit like Alec Guinness. “Matthau? I didn’t know you could talk!”
“Of course I can speak, you pillock! I’m an English Mastiff, not some Neapolitan dullard!”
“No offense, Matthau! I just wonder why you waited until now!”
“It’s the Dogweed, old bean. Otherwise you’re too thick to hear it.”
“Is that it?”
“You have a better explanation?”
“I do not.”
“Well, there it is then.”
” I suppose you’re right, old boy. We’ll have to ask Carlton to get us some more of this soon. So what are those dogs saying anyway?”
“Oh they’re banging on about what worthless sods their agents were. Couldn’t even negotiate a reasonable royalties contract, could they?”
“Really? You’re having me on!”
“Am I? Perhaps you’d like corroboration from another hound?”
His point was well taken and I surely had no reason to doubt him. I have since learned of rumor that Roger Waters has advocated on behalf of the estates of these long departed canines. Mr. Waters has declined any comment upon the matter.