Bird Dog

Album: The Everly Brothers' Best (1958)
Charted: 2 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Written by Boudleaux Bryant - who co-wrote many of the Everly Brothers' early hits, including "Bye Bye Love" and "Wake Up Little Susie," with partner Felice Bryant - this novelty tune finds the narrator comparing a guy named Johnny to a bird dog, because he's always sniffing around the singer's girl. Bird dogs are used by hunters to retrieve birds and other small game animals by tracking their scent. But this particular pooch is veering into dangerous territory. The Everlys warn:

    Hey, bird dog get away from my quail
    Hey, bird dog you're on the wrong trail
    Bird dog you better leave my lovey-dove alone
  • This hit the charts two years after Elvis Presley compared his lover to a whiny canine in the #1 hit "Hound Dog." The harmonizing duo maintained that Elvis, who burst on the scene while they were still trying to land a record deal, wasn't an influence on their country-flavored rock and roll tunes. Don Everly explained in 1998: "Elvis didn't have the kind of voice I liked, nor a sound I liked. I was listening to Ray Charles, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, and Bo Diddley."
  • The Everlys weren't fond of the song and were surprised when it became a hit. "I thought the song was one of those corny things," Don explained in the booklet for the duo's 1994 compilation, Heartaches and Harmonies. "Still, it had something. Still does. We don't do it anymore though."

    Brother Phil added: "'Bird Dog' was a strange song. There used to be a ventriloquist on television with Jerry Mahoney, who had a dog called Farfel. Archie [Bleyer, producer] wanted to get Farfel to do 'he's a bird,' 'he's a dog' but we just weren't going for it. We said, 'Uh-uh!' Thank God they didn't do it."
  • A multi-format hit, this peaked at #1 on the Country chart and #2 on the R&B chart.
  • The vocal trio The Newbeats covered this in 1966. Their version was produced by Wesley Rose, who had worked with the Everlys when they signed to Rose's publishing company Acuff-Rose as songwriters. It was also covered by the British glam rock band Mud, who brought it to #33 on the UK charts in 1975, and the Bellamy Brothers, who hit #86 on the country chart in 1978.
  • This was used in the 2010 Rob Reiner film Flipped, starring Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe.
  • The Everly Brothers performed this on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show on April 26, 1959, and on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show on April 13, 1961.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Matt SorumSongwriter Interviews

When he joined Guns N' Roses in 1990, Matt helped them craft an orchestral sound; his mezzo fortes and pianissimos are all over "November Rain."

Kristian Bush of SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.