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Nan Macmillan’s “Walk the Dog”: A Gentle Reminder to Live in the Present

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Some songs just feel like a particular kind of day, a certain season, or a certain moment. They illicit feelings like the hopefulness of spring and long days of summer, the cooling nights of fall and biting days of winter. Nan Macmillan’s “Walk the Dog” is one of those that harbors an unmistakable feeling of seasonal transition. With an understated power, it is reminiscent of the days when summer breezes carry away floral notes and leaden humidity, replaced by the cool and crisp winds of autumn.

Softly beginning, Macmillan’s effortless vocals beautifully compliment a piano-driven arrangement. Adeptly manipulating the warm, rich texture of her voice, she creates a unique sound that is gently inviting.

“You recall the beauty of your younger days / Tied and tethered to the ones you love / But everything changes everybody spreads apart”

It is not only her warm tone of voice, though, that is reminiscent of the shift from lengthy summer nights to the shortened days of fall. There are undercurrents of the kinds of uncertainty and anticipation that tend to follow the end of summer. As children, waning summer days signal the end of extended breaks and unbridled freedom as a new school year begins. The sadness of something coming to an end mingles with feelings of nerves and excitement for the new and unknown.

Transitioning to adulthood, bits of these feelings remain. With new September breezes the subconscious taps into a lingering expectancy for the unknown. This feeling is not simply evoked by the end of summer, though, and Macmillan beautifully articulates the subtleties of anticipating the future.

“Do you find your waiting on a hurricane / For a strong black wind to envy / And you get beaten down by the day to day labor”

She taps into the anxieties that a life in constant motion brings, where what is to come is hidden from view. Plodding towards the finish lines in the future, anxiety and apprehension are strapped together in  anticipation for what is to come. Heartily acknowledging the difficulties of life, she takes care not to dismiss reality. She does not try to diminish that there will always be unforeseen obstacles in the future or paint a rose-colored glow on life. Instead, she gently emphasizes that fear and anticipation of the unknown is an inescapable part of existence.

“So you walk the dog / You walk the dog / And you love your dog / He’s such a good dog”

Ultimately, Macmillan’s words serve as a reminder to live in the moment. Life is often overwhelming and full of doubts, but worrying about what is to come serves as an obstacle to happiness. While it can sometimes be difficult to be fully immersed in a moment, it is truly important to heed her words and “Walk the Dog”.

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