The song Dead Dogs was written and performed by the Memphis based artist, Annie DiRusso. About four months ago, Annie DiRusso appeared on my recommended music playlist. I found that she was a relatively up and coming artist that had a small, but dedicated fan-base. I soon fell for her two singles that showcased her lyrical expertise, and her ability to describe the pain of unrequited love. A month ago, DiRusso released the first single of her new album, Dead Dogs. Coincidentally, this single bore the same name as her yet, unreleased new album. What struck me first about this new single, was the captivating album cover. Personally, I judge artists heavily based on their album covers. Now I understand that this may be arrogant and dismissive of the actual quality of their music, but an album cover should set the tone for the proceeding work of art. Therefore, it should be thought out and expressive. The art itself should add to the poetic style. DiRusso’s cover is a vibrant watercolor, that depicts dogs of different breeds stretched out and configured so that they spell the words Dead Dogs.
In terms of the music itself, the lyrics and accompanied heavy chords hit right off the bat.
I feel insane/talking at the sky/ trying to send love/ to my dog that died/ Don't know what I think, or a reason why/ Bella would be up there, just chilling with the big guy.
The first time I heard these lyrics, I was genuinely confused. Is she actually going to be singing about her dog? I realized then, that both her album and song title should be viewed literally. Even though DiRusso presents this song as a pretty typical Indie Rock song, the lyrics invoke a more melancholy feeling that creates a sense of nostalgia in the hearts of listeners. DiRusso began her career by belting our chords about the loss of a lover. Now, DiRusso earnestly shares her despair over the death of her beloved dog. When she describes singing to the sky, she creates a more child-like persona. She innocently misses the company that her dog once provided. Through this, a central theme of the song itself is introduced. DiRusso doesn’t postulate over complicated love affairs, but instead, defends an idea of pure love that has been formed through loving companionship. Poetry is supposed to help individuals expand their experiences or perceptions of the world. By providing her honest remorse, DiRusso allows listeners to build on their own feelings of loss. In essence, she provides a safe space for listeners to process their grief-related emotions, and earnestly assess how they feel. In addition, DiRusso challenges her listeners to not necessarily place value on aspects of life that society tells us to, but instead, to value relationships and bonds that bring us the most personal joy. If that joy is centered around your pet, then so be it. As the song progresses, DiRusso sings
Well, dead dogs don't talk to me, and neither does god/I guess it's free therapy I'm in need of.
This set of lines highlights DiRusso coping with the confusion and loneliness of grief. DiRusso herself seems to be undergoing a sort of existential crisis. It appears that not only has she been stuck by the loss of her dog, but now she feels she’s been abandoned by God himself. These references to God add a comedic layer to the song that alleviates some of the dark tones. Her request for some variation of therapy is essentially a request a platform to share her emotions.
In her next section of lyrics, DiRusso sings,
No one sees clearly/ we all just play along/ Well, I need some answers please, the world is going wrong.
This final section of the song describes DiRusso’s dissatisfaction with society’s changing values and morals. It seems that instead of valuing the important relationships of life, society has become obsessed with materialism. In this haze of grief, DiRusso has become privy to the effects of losing something of importance, and only being left with lifeless material objects. Instead of breaking free from these destructive habits, individuals continue to feed their indulgences, and buy into this consumeristic culture. Though this is not the only reason the world is going wrong. Going back to the religious component of this song, DiRusso is questioning how God could have cut short the life of her beautiful dog. Why is it that everything good and pure, is ripped away from the world too quickly?
Not only does this song meet all of my personal music specifications, but it truly is a work of poetry. DiRusso takes a specific personal incident and uses it to address greater themes of grief. By doing this, she address how individuals prioritize different areas and relationships in their own lives. Her song is short and concise, which allows listeners to focus deeply in on the lines she provides. Though DiRusso currently resides in a relatively niche area of the indie music genre, it is ballads like these that I believe with soon attract a wide fan base.