(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?

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"The Doggie in the Window"
Single by Patti Page
B-side "My Jealous Eyes"
Released January 1953 (1953-01)
Format 10" 78 rpm &
7" 45 rpm single
Recorded December 18, 1952
with "Barks by Joe and Mac"
Genre Novelty, traditional pop
Length 2:58
Label Mercury #70070
Writer(s) Bob Merrill
Patti Page singles chronology
"Conquest"
(1952)
"The Doggie in the Window"/"My Jealous Eyes"
(1953)
"Now That I'm in Love"
(1953)
"(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window (UK Release)"
Single by Patti Page
B-side "My Jealous Eyes"
Released March 28, 1953 (1953-03-28)
Format 10" 78 rpm &
7" 45 rpm single
Genre Novelty, traditional pop
Length 2:58
Label Oriole #CB 1156
Writer(s) Bob Merrill

"(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" is a popular novelty song published as having been written by Bob Merrill in 1952 and very loosely based on the folk tune, Carnival of Venice. The best-known version of the song was the original, recorded by Patti Page on December 18, 1952 and released in January 1953 by Mercury Records as catalog numbers 70070 (78 rpm) and 70070X45 (45 rpm) under the title "The Doggie in the Window", with the flip side being "My Jealous Eyes". It reached #1 on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts in 1953, and sold over two million copies.[1]

Mercury, however, had poor distribution in the United Kingdom. Therefore, a recording by Lita Roza was the one most widely heard in the UK, reaching #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1953.[2] It also distinguished Roza as the first British woman to have a number-one hit in the UK chart. It was also the first song to reach number 1 with a question in the title.[2]

The Patti Page recording[edit]

Background[edit]

"Doggie" was one in a series of successful novelty songs since the 1930s, following on the success of songs such as Bing Crosby's "Pistol Packin' Mama" and Merv Griffin's "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts". Prior to the release of "Doggie", composer Bob Merrill penned "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake".[3] The original Page recording included the sounds of dogs barking, credited on the label as "Barks by Joe and Mac" (her arranger and violinist). The recording also features Page's signature multi-part tight harmonies, all sung by Page. Throughout the years, she recorded several other versions as well.

Popular reception[edit]

On April 4, 1953, singer Patti Page's rendition of "The Doggie in the Window" went to No. 1 in the US Billboard magazine chart, staying at that top spot for eight weeks.[3] The song was wildly popular across a wide demographic. The song had school children "yipping"; Mercury Records was besieged with requests for free puppies; and the American Kennel Club's annual registrations spiked up by eight percent. In all, Page's record sold over 2 million copies.[3]

Following the top ten entrance of Lita Roza's cover version on March 14, 1953,[4] the Patti Page version of the song was released in the UK on March 28, renamed "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window" (sans question mark), under Mercury's "Oriole Records" label. Given the delay getting to market in the UK, it was not as successful as the Roza version, however, only entering the chart at number nine before leaving the chart five weeks later.[5] The Roza version went to number one, lasting in that spot for one week.[4] This did mean, however, that for five weeks between 28 March and 25 April 1953, there were two versions of "Doggie" in the UK top twelve singles chart.[4][5]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1953) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[6] 1
Radio Luxembourg Sheet Music Chart[6] 1
UK Singles Chart 9
US Billboard Best Sellers in Stores[3] 1

Legacy[edit]

Rock historian Michael Uslan has stated that songs similar to "Doggie" led to the "fervent embrace of rock & roll"[3] two years after its release. "A lot of songs at that time were extremely bland, squeaky-clean stuff. The music field was ripe for something new, something vibrant to shake the rafters."[3]

The song has since become a popular children's song. Bob Merrill's lyrics were reworked by Iza Trapani into the 2004 children's book How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?.[7]

The phrase "How much is that doggie in the window?" seemed innocent enough in 1953, but in modern times it has become synonymous with the trade in puppies from pet shops, often originating in puppy mills.[8][9]

In 2009, Patti Page recorded a version of the song with a new title ("Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter") together with new lyrics, with the hopes of emphasizing the adoption of homeless animals from animal shelters.[10] The rights to that song was given exclusively to the Humane Society of the United States. Said Page:

"The original song asks the question: 'How much is that doggie in the window?' Today, the answer is 'too much.' And I don't just mean the price tag on the puppies in pet stores. The real cost is in the suffering of the mother dogs back at the puppy mill. That's where most pet store puppies come from. And that kind of cruelty is too high a price to pay."

—Patti Page, 2009[10]

On the occasion of Page's death, the Humane Society stated on their website, "We remember her fondly for her compassion for animals."[10]

Cover versions[edit]

Lita Roza[edit]

"(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?"
Single by Lita Roza
B-side "Tell Me We'll Meet Again"
Genre Novelty, traditional pop
Length 2:21
Label Decca Records
Lita Roza singles chronology
"Oakie Boogie"
(1952)
"(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?"
(1953)
"Seven Lonely Days"
(1953)

Background and composition[edit]

Roza was a singer with The Ted Heath jazz band during the 1950s.[11] During this period, she was voted Favourite Female Vocalist in a Melody Maker poll from 1951 to 1955 and a similar poll in New Musical Express from 1952 to 1955.[12]

In 1951, she recorded "Allentown Jail" with the Heath Band, which led to her A&R Dick Rowe asking her to sing "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?". Her initial response was negative, "I'm not recording that, it's rubbish",[12] she recalled that he pleaded with her, responding "It'll be a big hit, please do it, Lita."[12] She relented, saying she would record it but never sing it again afterwards.[12]

Reception[edit]

"Doggie" was a new entry in the UK charts on 14 March 1953 at number nine. It moved up to number three in its second and third week of release before dropping down to number four on 4 April. On 11 April it moved up to number two for a week, before becoming number one on 18 April.[4] This made Lita Roza both the first female vocalist to top the UK singles chart and the first person from Liverpool, long before the success of The Beatles or Cilla Black.[13] It held the top spot for one week, before gradually dropping down the top ten over the next five weeks, with its final week in the top ten being at number nine on 23 May.[4]

Charts[edit]
Chart (1953) Peak
position
Radio Luxembourg Sheet Music Chart[6] 1
UK Singles Chart[12] 1

Legacy[edit]

Lita Roza was widely reported to have strongly disliked her song. In an interview in 2004 she revealed that she had kept her promise to never perform the song, "I sang it once, just one take, and vowed I would never sing it again. When it reached number one, there was enormous pressure to perform it but I always refused. It just wasn't my style."[11] However, she would go on to be most widely remembered for that song.[12] In 2001, Roza opened Liverpool's Wall of Hits on Matthew Street, home of The Cavern Club. On display were various discs from every British number-one from Merseyside, the first being her own.[13]

The song returned to the spotlight briefly during the 1980s as the result of an interview with Smash Hits magazine, wherein Margaret Thatcher, who was then serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, admitted that Lita Roza's version of "Doggie" was her favourite song of all time.[14]

Following Roza's death in August 2008, she left £300,000 in her will to charities, of which £190,000 went to three dog-related charities: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and The Cinnamon Trust.[11]

Other covers[edit]

The song has also been covered by many groups and is available on many children songs CDs and is considered as children's music in many countries. It can also be found on many musical toys made since the late 1960s. For example, a Sankyo music box made in the 1970s played the song, as do many musical toys manufactured today.

Parodies[edit]

The song has also been parodied a few times, including:

  • In 1953, the year of the original's release, country musicians Homer & Jethro, "the thinking man's hillbillies," released their parody, "How Much Is That Hound Dog in the Window?" ("Window" was pronounced "winder", and the lyrics continued with, "... I do hope that flea bag's for sale....") It was to become an enormous hit – their first crossover hit – and rose to No. 2 on Billboard's country charts.[15]
  • Another notable (but hardly at all known) parody, according to David English, former president of RSO Records – which went on to become Eric Clapton's and the Bee Gees' record label – was the very first record released by that company in 1973, with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The record was "Window The In Doggie (That is Much How)" – sung to the tune of "Doggie", but with each line of lyrics sung backwards.[16] According to the pseudonyms listed on the label, the artist was "Rover", and the song was produced by "Jo Rice" and arranged by "Don Gould". English would later quip that the record "sold about eight copies".[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. 
  2. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 9. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Cagle, Jess (29 March 1991). "That Doggie in the Window". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "(How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window?". ChartStats.com. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "(How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window?". ChartStats.com. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "Songs from the Year 1953". tsort.info. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Trapani, Iza (2004). How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?. Charlesbridge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58089-030-4. 
  8. ^ "How much is that doggie in the window?". The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  9. ^ McGowan, Katherine. "How Much is that Doggie in the Window Suffering?". The Humane Society of the United States. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c "Old Song Carries New Tune". Humane Society of the United States. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  11. ^ a b c "Lita Roza: How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? singer leaves £190,000 to animal charities". The Times. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Leigh, Spencer (15 August 2008). "Lita Roza: Sultry interpreter of romantic ballads nevertheless best known for 'How Much is That Doggie in the Window?'". The Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Lita Roza: Singer of 1953 hit 'How Much Is That Doggie In the Window?'". The Scotsman. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  14. ^ Petridis, Alexis (5 October 2004). "Conservative tastes". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "Homer & Jethro". Inductees. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  16. ^ English, David (2002). Mad Dogs and the Englishman: Confessions of a Loon. Ted Smart. ASIN B000S8GZYO. ISBN 978-1852279448. 
  17. ^ Thorbum, Stephanie (November 2003). "The Celebrity Impresario. Voodoo Interview with David English". We Are One (online newsmagazine). theBrothersGibb.com. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 

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