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Scout the wolf dog
1 December 2011

I wouldn’t have noticed that Scout had snuck up behind me if not for a glance of her long shadow invading my peripheral vision. Her muzzle was inches from my hand when I turned to look her in the face. Without skipping a beat, she fell back and loped off to the side. Just reminding you that I COULD have taken you down if I wanted, her nonchalance seemed to express.

Perhaps I exaggerate, because I was thrilled to meet my first wolfdog by chance, up close. Though she wouldn’t let me get within arm’s length, she let both Bows surround and sniff her, just as they would greet any normal dog. I had a hard time reading her body language. According to her owner, she is gentle and even obsequious. He probably couldn’t get away with walking her at a public, off-leash park if she showed even a hint of aggression!

Inspired by this encounter and a recent reading of Brett L. Walker’s Lost Wolves of Japan (review hopefully forthcoming), I rifled through my music collection to compile a short mix of songs about wolves — my “gift” of music to you, dear reader, in the absence of any holiday spirit.

If 8tracks.com didn’t randomize everything after the second play, this would be my ideal sequence:

Drawn into the pack: 13 songs about wolves (click to listen to the mix)

  • Iron & Wine: Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog) [The Shepherd’s Dog, Sub Pop 2007]. Cryptic lyrics compel me to take the title at face value.
  • Paul Kantner & Grace Slick: When I Was a Boy I Watched the Wolves [Sunfighter, Grunt 1971]. A Jefferson Airplane side project.
  • Arborea: Wolves [Red Planet, Strange Attractors Audio House 2011].
  • Devendra Banhart: Mama Wolf [Cripple Crow, XL 2005]. Bleeds into your veins like magic or epiphany: “I know what to call you now.”
  • Cat Power: Werewolf [You Are Free, Matador 2003]. “Nobody knows, nobody knows / How I loved the man as I teared off his clothes.”
  • Hunting Lodge (feat. Roselle Williams): The Wolf Hour [Nomad Souls, S/M Operations 1984]. The most terrifying song I’ve heard in a long time — truly the audio equivalent of being ripped apart by wolves and left for dead.
  • Amon Düül II: Wolf City [Wolf City, United Artists 1972]. Has the least to do with wolves of any song on this list.
  • TV on the Radio: Wolf Like Me [Return to Cookie Mountain, Interscope 2006].
  • Oh Land: Wolf & I [Oh Land, Fake Diamond 2011].
  • Florence + the Machine: Howl [Lungs, Island 2009]. This goes sort of by request to Johnny Pez, who suggested a different song by the same artist for a dog-oriented mix. Instead, I found this track to be more appropriate for this theme.
  • Blitzen Trapper: Furr [Furr, Sub Pop 2008]. “And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong…”
  • The Cramps: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (with false start) [Songs the Lord Taught Us, Illegal 1980]. This contains bad words, for those concerned about such things.
  • Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs: Li’l Red Riding Hood [Silly Songs, K-Tel 2002 (originally 1966)].