I was recently contacted by Joanne Sundell after she heard the Husky song and watched a video I assembled for The Five Sibe Radio Show with Dorothy Wills-Rafftery. First of all, it was great to see how many books Joanne has written, and I eagerly await reading her latest, “Arctic Storm”. She has asked me to write about how the Husky song was created and how I was inspired to choose the lyrics and music.
I am a professional songwriter and have been in the business for over 40 years with many awards, including winner of The USA Songwriting Contest in 2010 with long time co-writer, Alannah Myles. Many of my songs have been recorded by Grammy winners such as Alannah, Melissa Manchester and Ricky Van Shelton plus many Canadian artists that would not be familiar to those who do not live in Canada. I grew up near Toronto, Canada, and spent 20 years in the business as a writer, performer and producer.
I left Toronto and my performing career and moved to Carpinteria, CA. I really tried to convince myself that I was leaving music forever but, having studied piano from the age of 6, music was deeply ingrained into my soul. I asked my friend if she thought people might like to hear a song written about their own breed because nothing like this had been done before. She thought it was a great idea so I began writing about the dogs belonging to the people around me. Everybody seemed to connect with their song so I decided to work through the most popular breeds and the Siberian husky was in the top twenty.
When it came to creating the songs I often tried to incorporate the music from the country of origin, if possible, but with the husky there was little information about Siberian music. The internet was barely in existence at this time. CDs also had yet to make a debut. I used the AKC book to research each breed or if I could I’d sit down with an owner or breeder and get immersed in the dogs themselves. I had been around many huskies in Canada and remember driving north of the city where I saw what seemed like farms of huskies, each one chained to its own dog house. Maybe these were early puppy mills, I’ll never really know. From school history I knew that the natives in northern Canada did use the dogs as their transportation across the frozen land. It was quite foreign to me to think of how they lived as I had never come close to visiting the Northern Territories. Even though most sled teams have been replaced by snow machines, the breed remains a part of their lives.
When I wrote the music I decided to choose a high energy, strong rhythm that reflected the traits of the dog. I began with the 80’s style of pop rock that had a steady rock beat and a style that was common to me. The story was from the point of view of the lead dog rallying the pups to get ready for their journey. Really he just blows his own horn about what a fabulous dog he is – determined, loyal, devoted and strong. The team is hitched up, revved up and ready to go. All the way to Iditarod.
I recorded the song in Santa Barbara in the early 90’s and played all the instruments except the electric guitar which my talented engineer added. This helped to drive the song a bit more and bring more energy to the track. It was great fun to sing this song. (It’s still one of my favorites!)
I sold the cassettes at dog shows in Southern California in my booth and enjoyed being around so many dogs and dog enthusiasts. I manufactured the cassettes at home in my studio but after several years I felt the need to step away and try to have them packaged in a more professional manner. They sat on the shelf for about 12 years, but I never gave up hope that they would see the light of day.
I did not release the songs as Musical Tails until 2002. Finally, CDs were available to independent, or indie, musicians like myself and the cost was reasonable. I released the “1st Litter” (or CD) with ten popular breeds and followed that with the 2nd and 3rd Litters. The next 7 CDs were released digitally, or what is known as MP3s, through iTunes, amazon.com, CD Baby and many other digital companies. In Dec. 2014 I released the 118th breed song, the Belgian Tervuren.
So, that’s the story of the Siberian husky song and a little history about Musical Tails. I’m so pleased it is finally reaching husky owners and I hope it makes everyone as happy to hear it as it was for me to create “Rev Me Up”.
To see the video and hear the song please visit:
To learn more about Nancy Simmonds and Musical Tails please visit www.musicaltails.com