Volume 74, Number 27 | November 10 - 16, 2004

It’s a dog’s life for Village tunesmith on latest CD

By Melanie Wallis

Singer, songwriter and producer, Murray Weinstock, has combined his talent for music and his passion for man and woman’s best friend by creating a compilation CD of songs about dog behavior.

Weinstock, 56, who owns a music studio on Vandam St., called on some of his celebrity acquaintances to partake in the CD, including Dr. John, Phoebe Snow, Soozie Tyrell, John Sebastian, Joey Spampinato, Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Barbara Harris of the Toys.

“Dr. John said on a phone call to me, ‘I hear you’re doing something about the critters. I will do anything to help people get a better understanding of critters,’” Weinstock recalled.

It’s now possible to buy designer dog wear, gourmet dog food — including dog sushi — as well as being able to take your dog to a pet psychiatrist to help with socialization skills.

The potential money that could be gained in completing such a niche project, however, did not motivate Weinstock to make his CD; his motivations were from the love for his late dachshund, Sparky, who for all his 15 years accompanied Weinstock for daily walks around the Village.

“Sparky’s priorities were so simple — food, sleep and play. He made me realize about my priorities,” Weinstock said. “I learned a lot from Sparky, I learned how to relax.”

Weinstock was five years into making the CD called “Tails of the City” when Sparky passed away in 2002. It then took another two years to complete the CD until its release last month.

“The engineer, Scott Cannizzaro, was very busy and I had to wait in line. Because of all the different artists, it took a few months,” commented Weinstock on why it took seven years total to produce the CD.

The end result is that Weinstock, who collaborated with dog behaviorist Steve Diller, has made a CD of 12 songs about a dog’s perspective in life. “I always tried to imitate Sparky’s expressions; it was like my little game with him,” Weinstock said. “I tried to imagine what he was thinking and what other dogs were thinking.”

Songs range from the whimsical, such as “Popcorn Paws” — “You know how sometimes dogs’ paws smell like popcorn?” Weinstein noted — to commentary on relationships, like “Chase That Ball,” a female’s lament about a guy who just wants to play fetch; to “Dog Day Afternoon,” an ode to lazing around; and “War Dogs,” about the K-9 brigades that have served in combat.

Weinstock, who makes a living from producing music for commercials, TV shows and being a member of Kenny Vance and the Planotones band, owns his own production company, Lovenotes Music, established in 1978. Of interest to fans of ’70s TV, he played piano and did backing vocals for Sebastian on the theme song of “Welcome Back Kotter.”

It wasn’t until 1993, however, that Weinstock first started writing songs about dogs. He was asked to pen an anthem for the biannual Dachshund Festival in Washington Sq. Park.

In 1994, Weinstock put out his first CD about dogs, called “The Dachshund Song,” which consists of one song and an instrumental version. It was from this project that Weinstock got the idea to do his new compilation CD.

The upbeat “Tails of the City,” which Weinstock describes as a fusion of jazz and pop, has already received positive responses in the one month since its release. Weinstock sent a copy of the CD to Armistead Maupin, author of the “Tales of the City” novels about San Francisco. Maupin described it as a “freewheeling, feel-good sound — along with the life-enhancing honesty of dogs themselves.”

When producing “Tails,” however, Weinstock was initially aiming it at children. “It’s the idea of experiencing and sharing unconditional love that you get from animals — I had kids in mind,” he said. “I want to get kids thinking about what animals are thinking — and using their imagination.”

Weinstock would like to expand on “Tails of the City” by making it into a theatrical production. “Look at ‘CATS,’ ” he said, referring to the long-running musical production on Broadway. “I’d like to make ‘Tails of the City’ into a show with 12 different characters,” he said.

Weinstock said he has no plans to get another dog just yet. “I’m quite happy being a surrogate father to Scooter, my neighbor’s dachshund,” he said.

For more information or to purchase the “Tails of the City” CD, go to www.dogtunes.com or call 1-866-DOGTUNE. The disc is for sale at Pet Bar at 177 W. Broadway and Zoomies pet store at 434 Hudson St.

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