Let me tell you about my dog for a moment.
My dog is named Peanut, which was a compromise name after my dad wouldn’t let my mom name him Eli after Eli Manning. He is a mix between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, a breed that is known as a “cockapoo” against our collective better judgment. He has curly white fur, floppy ears the color of toasted marshmallows, and the amiable, vaguely confused temperament of an elderly man who plays chess in Washington Square Park. He is obsessed with my mom, and he is a shameless mooch at the dinner table.
Peanut is sixteen years old. He has gone deaf, his eyesight is poor, and he needs to be carried up and down the stairs. I don’t know how much longer we’ll have him. I know that it won’t be as long as we’d like it to be. But the idea that he won’t be here makes me want to lay down on the floor next to him and talk to him–actually talk to him, not dog-talk. Does he know how good he is? How lucky he is? How we’ve come to depend on him as much as he depends on us?
“Beauxette,” the wonderful new single from the folk-pop songwriter Rey (aka Alex Cherney of upstate New York), is driven by a similar need to honor one’s dog. The titular Beauxette belongs to Cherney’s family, and she’s clearly been on his mind ever since he moved away. He sings that he can feel her “beckoning [him] to play from miles away,” and longs to go away with her for an afternoon. It’s the kind of feeling anyone who’s been away from their dog can relate to; when I was studying abroad for a month, I’d see people walking their dogs and think of mine, trotting at his unhurried pace.
There have been plenty of songs written about dogs before, but what makes “Beauxette” special is the way it captures the essence of a dog. Another songwriter could have made it maudlin, but even at its most wistful “Beauxette” feels light on its feet. Thanks to a steady, glam-rock-esque thump and some occasional flourishes of world percussion, it brings across everything we love about dogs: they’re good-natured, uncomplicated beings, brimming with bottomless enthusiasm and goodwill for everyone they meet. This extends to the lyrics, as well; Beauxette is described as jumping up on the bed to better look at the people she’s greeting home, which is a particularly endearing touch.
Owning a dog means badly wanting to express the depths of your love and gratitude to an animal who can’t understand it. Dogs know you love them, because you feed them regularly and give them scratches behind the ears, but they don’t see any particular reason for it to go much deeper than that. That’s why we post pictures on Instagram or write songs about them or devote parts of music reviews to them: there are times when a scratch behind the ears won’t suffice, and we need to tell someone who will listen and understand. “Beauxette” communicates that love with creativity and heart.