Before Youtube was littered(!) with cute kitten videos, there were songs about them. Most have arguably been not only about whiskered creatures, but are also analogies and metaphors. Are these the greatest songs about cats? Well, you decide. Why not fill us in on ones we’ve missed – in the comments below.
Lovecats – The Cure
Cool, elegant, and yet as resilient as old boots – these are some of the qualities we learn that people liken to being a cat.
In this song, the main character wanders the streets and hangs out with a stray cat. Is Robert Smith really likening one to a human lover in this song? Possibly.
This is a sparking piece of pop that harbours dark undertone, one which characterised The Cure throughout their 1980s spin. Here though was the first indication they could crossover from album to singles, and get played in discos.
Stray Cat Strut – The Stray Cats
With this release the rockabilly trio of Setzer, Phantom and Rocker spearheaded an early ‘80s revival in greaser haircuts, ‘50s Cadillacs and Gretsch guitars. Unlike The Cure though, they were probably also singing about an actual alley cat – straight up and no metaphor!
The Cat Came Back – Harry S Miller
A whimsical ditty, often used to teach children about rhythm and tempo, ‘The Cat Came Back’ tells the story of a man who keeps trying to get rid of a cat. As is often the case, the cat doesn’t listen and keeps returning. In fact, in the original rendition, not even death can hold the cat back, as it finally apparates – as a ghost!
Year of the Cat – Al Stewart
in contrast to the slightly creepy The Cat Came Back – here is a lush and finely-crafted 70s ballad from the British singer-songwriter Al Stewart. Year of the Cat employs the lore of the Vietnamese Zodiac to illustrate a man’s memory of being unable to resist the lure of a woman. This happens during the year of the cat!
Everybody wants to be a Cat – from Disney’s The Aristocats
Well, little lady, let me elucidate here / Everybody wants to be a cat / Because a cat’s the only cat / Who knows where it’s atEverybody wants to be a Cat
This song, written by Phil Harris, Thurl Ravenscroft, Scatman Crothers really gets to the bare bones of the issue. We all want to be a cat! In the wake of the 1960s and before that the Beat writers of the 1950s, ‘Cat appeared in the slang vernacular to mean, like really cool people (see the next one). It’s something these writers were clearly aware of.
Cool for Cats – Squeeze
You may not know what Chris Difford was going on about at times in this song, and that’s because it’s peppered with Cockney rhyming slang.
Cool for Cats was actually a late 50s TV show – the first in the UK to feature music for a teenage audience. This song is a clear reference to this. However, it is also a first hand account of young guys footloose in London at the time Squeeze recorded it.
Talking about it much later, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze co-songwriter) remarked, ‘I remember hearing Chris sing those lyrics for the first time and thinking he’s just nailed what our lives are about now. It’s lovely to be able to look back on that and see how we were as youngsters’.
Smelly Cat – Lisa Kudrow
No songs about cats list would be worthy without this. Becoming something of a running gag in the Friends comedy sitcom series, Smelly Cat has also been covered by an array of well-known artists. However, by the time of the Friends reunion, Kudrow had forgotten the chords, and had to re-learn them – with Lady Gaga’s help, no less.
This song was a regular part of second series of the massively popular and long-running TV series Friends. It was performed by Kudrow as Phoebe (one of the show’s main characters), and written by Friends writers Adam Chase and Betsey Horns, alongside Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde.
Now it’s your turn to tell us your favourite song or songs about cats in the comments below.
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