Why I Cover: “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges

Milo Paul

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If you couldn’t already tell, I like Iggy Pop. One of the first installments of my “Why I Cover” series was about his song “The Passenger” and, realistically, it’s not going to surprise me if he reappears here again from time to time. That man has done a lot in his decades-spanning career and I’m certain that some of my bands will play more of his material as time goes on (here’s looking at you, Sparks Lowry. Other Victorians will play “Lust For Life” at some point, I promise).

Anyway, why “I Wanna Be Your Dog”? Well, to be blunt about it, it’s a perfect example of the other side of Iggy Pop. You know, the one that isn’t totally smothered in black and white on “The Idiot” or while making appearances in Jim Jarmusch films. This Pop is still very much about the easy-on-the-fingers chord progressions but he’s younger this time around, in the process of getting jaded but not quite over the hill and into art-punk territory. To quote from the title of a Stooges album this song doesn’t appear in, he is as “raw” as he’ll ever get and all “power”. This song drips with the characteristic sex and sweat that Pop would be known for in the years to come despite its lackluster reoccurrence if examined through a microscope. Yeah, Pop is wild and he always was/will be, but there seems to be something of an artistic filter on how saucy he has allowed himself to get since.

At this point in his career, Pop was not focused on being an “artist” in the conventional sense of the word, and he was probably way too smacked up to even care, either. The early Stooges era was Pop at his most dangerous and devil-may-care, and there’s no song other than maybe “Search And Destroy” that puts this on display as well as “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

This is a chunky soup of fuzz that rattles and rumbles your taste buds with each bite. Each lick of the chord is the crawl of slime over the ears, pervasive and indisputably in charge as the first G (1, 2) and F# (1,2) lead into a berserker frenzy of an E chord. Static noise and stabs of lead guitar partnered with cymbals shitting themselves out of fear. The energy dissipates, collects itself, and starts moving forward, trembling but still held together by a nervous, ferocious spirit. Hitchcock once said that suspense is achieved when waiting for the bomb under the table to go off; this song is the aftermath of that bomb. Survivors shift around in terror and in wait of the next explosion to come, and it does so several times over.

I can’t really achieve what The Stooges accomplished in their studio recording because I honestly don’t like working with fuzz. I’ll listen to it, but I won’t play it. My kind of garage rock/punk is distorted or nauseatingly clean, nothing else. Still, “Dog” is a Stooges song, an Iggy Pop song; it is fun to try your own spin on it and not difficult to learn. You can’t even screw up the guitar solo if you tried because it sounds appropriate in the context of the song itself. I purposely try to make my guitar sound like a dog during live performances and fail literally 80% of the time and it just. Does. Not. Make. A. Difference. Fuck up gloriously, you’ll still get people raging and, in all seriousness, that’s what a punk band vies for when it’s first starting out, right? Be the dog, fuck shit up, and have fun. That’s why I cover “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges.

Here are all of my known recordings of this song to exist: