Rufus Thomas entertained us by writing and performing his own songs for decades. This is him performing his classic “Walkin’ the Dog” on the NBC TV Show “Night Music featuring David Sanborn” in late 1980s. At the time his age would be in his late sixties and yet you would never know it from his performance. In fact, in spite of his age, his performance of the song was just a good as the original he recorded back in the sixties. Just listen to the original for yourself.
Rufus Thomas – Walking The Dog (1963)
Song Review by Ed Hogan
Some singers knew what subject is best for them to sing about. For Memphis soul man Rufus Thomas animals seemed to always equal hits. Witness the Top Five R&B success of “Bear Cat,” “The Dog,” and “Do the Funky Chicken” (Top 30 pop). Giving his rural background, it wasn’t so surprising that some of Thomas’ biggest success would involve some of his four-legged friends; the best singers know to sing about what they’re familiar with. One Sunday afternoon, Thomas was returning from church when he recognized the cars owned by members of Booker T & the MGs parked in front of Stax Records’ Memphis recording studio. He’d had an idea for a song during the church service and seeing the cars, the singer/songwriter decided to see if he could record it. After a few run-throughs, the song “Walkin the Dog” was recorded. As it so happened, Atlantic Records producer Tom Dowd was visiting from New York. Hearing what he thought was a hit, Dowd decided to make the track one of the releases that was part of Stax’s distribution deal with Atlantic. “The Dog” was the title of a popular early-’60s dance craze. The funky, loping, mono-recorded “Walkin the Dog” made it to number five R&B and number ten pop in fall 1963.
You can find a very detailed historical tribute page to Mr. Thomas, authored by Greg Johnson, in an Article Reprint from the January, 2002 BluesNotes at this location.
Thanks for reading.