Song of the Day #188: ‘Dog on Wheels’ – Belle & Sebastian

dogonwheelsOne great thing about Belle and Sebastian is that for their first ten or so years they released, between albums, EPs that contained three of four completely new songs. Rather than releasing a CD single with an album song and a couple of bonus tracks, they reserved those singles for brand new material. This meant fans had new songs to look forward to almost every year.

And these weren’t throwaway songs. Some of their best-loved tunes are on those EPs, including today’s track, ‘Dog on Wheels.’

Unfortunately, they went a bit mainstream in 2003 and began putting out singles of previously released songs. Those EPs still contained B-side gems (one of which is slated for Friday) but it wasn’t the same. Still, if that’s the closest to selling out that Belle and Sebastian comes, I can live with it.

‘Dog on Wheels’ is an odd little song that kind of reminds me of a Bob Dylan tune, lyrically — it reads like a parable but with personal touches. Murdoch is a religious man and this is one “love” song that I can see applying to either a woman or God.

And I love the use of trumpet, which would become a staple on much of their later work.

When I was a boy I was confounded by you
Now I’m still a boy, I am indebted to you
Every song I ever wrote was written for you
Written for you

Now I’m feeling flat, you seem a mile away
I’m so tired that down on the pavement I’ll lay
Until the blossom of the tree comes falling on me
Fall on me

From my window I can see the mountain in snow
From my window I will shut my eyes and let go
Promise me you’ll always be around when I fall
And when I call

On the river bridge up on the wall, looking down
On the river bridge to me a vision was shown
If I could hold onto things until I was full grown
Peace would I know

To my dog on wheels I’ll tell my pleasures and woes
To my dog on wheels I’ll tell my secrets and more
Then one day in spring I’ll take him down to the road
Anything goes

9 thoughts on “Song of the Day #188: ‘Dog on Wheels’ – Belle & Sebastian

  1. Amy says:

    I vote for God, but what’s the deal with the titular dog on wheels? I picture the closing shots of The Savages, but I may be taking it all a bit too literally.

    Regardless, it’s got a great sound, and the trumpet is wonderful.

  2. Dana says:

    Nice song, but it didn’t bowl me over on first listen. Like the trumpet thoug–I kinda like trumpet in most pop songs, actually.

    So, here’s a question, if Murdoch writes all of the songs, how is BS really so different from Costello and The Atttractioncs? I think BS differes from the Beatles, where you had at least 2 songwriters, with the other two contributing as well–(not that Ringo should have been allowed to do so, but that’s another story!). So, I say you have to answer the question as to whether you would take BS onto the island as your favorite over Costello or any other solo artist. What say you to that!?

  3. Clay says:

    I believe a dog on wheels is a child’s plaything (like the one pictured in the EP cover up above). So it’s symbolic of him hanging on to things from his childhood, I suppose?

  4. Clay says:

    Murdoch is the principal writer but other band members write and sing their songs. They have a couple of female members who take lead vocals on a few tracks per album. So it’s not really an Elvis Costello & the Attractions analogy.

    But I would probably keep them over Costello or other solo artists if I had to choose. That’s such a crazy and impossible hypothetical that I don’t think there’s any right answer. And my answer today could be different two weeks from now.

  5. Amy says:

    Do they still make dog on wheels toys? As I was watching the video, I thought it was an extremely creepy toy. Rocking horses, I get. Dogs on wheels? Not so much. So I don’t find it quite as innocent a symbol as you do. Of course, I might just be unable to shake that dog from The Savages.

  6. Clay says:

    Maybe it’s a Scottish thing?

  7. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Or God spelled backwards… I’m just saying… 🙂

  8. Amy says:

    🙂 I like that, Kerrie. There you go. Rosebud isn’t just a sled at all!!!!

  9. pegclifton says:

    I think he wants a dog (like Dad) and the dog on wheels is the substitute, not a bad idea when you think of it–esp. when it’s 0 degrees and you have to take it outside :); and remind me, what about the dog in the Savages??

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