Atomic Dog

Album: Computer Games (1982)
Charted: 94 101
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  • This classic funk song explains why men are always going after women: It's because they have a little a dog in them, and dogs chase cats.
  • Clinton admitted to being in an "enhanced" state when he recorded this, entering the studio "blind as a bat and out of my head." For most earthly beings, this would result in nothing more than cosmic slop, but Clinton was used to working under these conditions - he created much of his Funkadelic material on acid.

    He came up with the opening spoken line, "This is a story of a famous dog," and ad-libbed the rest of the lyrics, stumbling on the hook:

    Why must I feel like that
    Why must I chase the cat
    It's nothin' but the dog in me

    When this section materialized, he knew he had a song.
  • Clinton worked on this song with his longtime musical director Garry Shider and with the keyboard player David Spradley, both of whom put together the track and share the songwriting credits with Clinton.
  • This dog barks and pants throughout the song. Clinton had his vocalists add to the rhythm and percussion by making the dog noises.
  • The unique sounding rhythm of this song is a result of a simple two-bar drum beat, played backwards using tape. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dave - Marieta, GA
  • Clinton got really into arcade games (especially Galaga) when he developed the album, which is why he called it Computer Games. Much of the album explores the advance of technology and the coming computer age, but he wanted to balance that out with a primal vibe - a reminder that no matter how advanced we become as a civilization, men are still dogs at the core. The synthesizer on this song represents the technology, which is offset by the pure instinct of the dog.

    "'I'm chasin' the cat' and lines like that, I was just doing that symbolically, like chasin' a woman or chasin' whatever, those instinctive things that you don't have much to do with, the automatic muscles," Clinton told Creem in 1983.
  • When Clinton taped his vocals, the backing music was playing backward due to an engineer's error. Clinton didn't even notice.
  • The music of Rufus Thomas was an influence on this track. Thomas used the dog as a symbol for man's animal instinct on many of his tracks, most famously "Walking the Dog" in 1963.
  • This was a #1 R&B hit for four weeks, starting on April 16, 1983, when it knocked Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" from the top spot.
  • Computer Games was first George Clinton solo album. He mixed and matched musicians throughout the '70s for his groups Funkadelic and Parliament, along with a parcel of other projects. This made for lots of inventive music, but the legal issues eventually caught up with him, since labels don't like their artists working for the competition. By recording under his own name, he was able to push forward while the issues with his other projects sorted out. Many of his Parliament/Funkadelic musicians played on the album, including guitarist Eddie Hazel, bass player Bootsy Collins, sax man Maceo Parker and keyboard player Bernie Worrell.
  • Fallout from "Atomic Dog" showed up in hundreds of songs that sampled it. Among them:

    "Doowutchyalike" by Digital Underground
    "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" by Public Enemy (1990)
    "My Summer Vacation," "No Vaseline" by Ice Cube (1991)
    "Pumps And A Bump" by MC Hammer (1994)
    "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" by Lil' Bow Wow (2000)
    "American Way" by Nas ft. Kelis (2004)
  • Clinton likes to point out that this was written and released in the Chinese Year of the Dog - 1982.
  • Snoop Doggy Dogg sampled this on his first single, "What's My Name," changing "Atomic Dog" to "Snoop Doggy Dogg." Snoop is a big fan of George Clinton; they appeared together in Nike commercials in 2002.
  • The album version runs 4:46; the single was cut to 4:15, with the 12-inch "Atomic Mix" clocking in at 10 minutes. When Clinton and P-Funk play it live, it can go on for quite a bit longer.

Comments: 14

  • Anthony from New YorkThere are 2 things with this song I like to mention. First of course it’s about women or men being attracted to & chasing women which the singer seems to lament not actually brag about like some of you have observed. “Why must I act like that? Why MUST I chase the cat?”

    Secondly the phrase/lyric “Atomic Dog” I think signifies himself. He’s talking about himself in regards that human beings are the alphas in a household with dogs. Men & women are the leaders of the pack in our extended families with dogs or cats.

    We are the alpha , the “atomic” the Atomic Dog. The title of the song means to say he’s the head honcho, the Atomic Dog, head of the pack. Since no else here is mentioning this I thought I’d add it to the conversation.
  • Johnny D.Stezo used the sample in "It's my turn". RIP.
  • AnonymousSeems to be bragging that all men are dogs, how is that a compliment?
  • Kenneth Reginald Jenkins from Savannah Georgia Nobody can’t do it like the man himself George Clinton Riding high on the Mother Ship
  • B. from TejasHammer used samples of Brick (Dusic) and The JBs (Gimme Some More) for "It's All Good".
  • B. from TejasHammer sampled Atomic Dog: "Pumps And A Bump"
  • Vaughn from New York, NyJust a general thing. Have you noticed that every site that claims to have the lyrics of this song misses one verse? its something like "Untied Dog part of a Dogmatic society. Ain't your ordinary hound". Then the rest of the lyrics? I am not sure of the actual lyric and I tried to look it up but not one site even mentioned it?
  • Tim from Ocean, NjThis track is the most sampled song in the P-Funk catalog.
  • Tim from Ocean, NjThis song was originally intended for inclusion on the last Funkadelic album "The Electric Spanking Of War Babies" from 1981.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhAny one who listens to the lyrics, can tell he was in an 'enhanced' state. Dancing dogs? Song still kicks ass. Love that crunchy groove.
  • Pumpz from Zanesville, Ohthe hammer song pumps and a bump was sampled from
    the group brick
  • Brian from Newark, NjI was part of a nationally ranked collegiate ultimate frisbee team in new york during the 80's-90's that adopted 'Atomic Dog's' as our official team name now recognized world wide.
    we still like to rock out with the ladies, get downright nasty and even throw the disc now & then with old friends. Peace out space bro!
  • Horace from Western, MdThe lyric "why must I chase the cat? must be the dog in me" is a sly way to talk about guys chasing ... well, a not nice thing to call a girl... think about it.
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaI think MC Hammer sampled this in "Pumps and a Bump".
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