Fur on Your Lips: The Love Songs of Beanie the Sin
CD of Beloved dog Beanie's love songs serves as a memorial By Dave Keller, music correspondent for The Times Argus, February 7, 2003 East Calais artist David Klein, well known for his papier-mâché doggie dioramas, has recently released an all-original CD featuring his beloved recently departed dog Beanie, backed by the Beanie for Peace Blues Band. Titled, 'Fur On Your Lips: The Love Songs of Beanie the Singing Dog,' this posthumous release should secure Beanie's place in Vermont lore, and bring smiles to those who missed the chance to hear her 'in person.' (Klein's 'Beanie' art, currently at Barre's Studio Place Arts, is reviewed on Page B8.) Until her death last year, Beanie 'sang' regularly at schools, mental hospitals, and humane societies. On this CD, she shows that she wasn't afraid to tackle a wide variety of musical styles. Though Klein primarily places her in blues settings, Beanie comfortably negotiates the nuances of Chuck Berry-ish rock ('Mo' Beanie Blues'), '70s pop/soul ('Life Without Beanie'), reggae ('Beanie For Peace'), and even classical (Pachabeanie's Canon'). The songs, mostly written by Klein, give Beanie room to express a range of emotions while Jasper or Klein sing the actual lyrics. Both men possess warm, unpolished voices, delivering the songs with sincerity and energy. Honestly, Beanie's own singing has much to recommend it. The ragged soulfulness of her voice comes as no surprise, most likely the result of her age and experience. It's her timing, though, that really impresses. Don't ask how she does it, but Beanie clearly understands how to massage the rhythm, singing ever so slightly behind the beat, drawing the listener in. The title cut, 'Fur On Your Lips,' sets the stage with it's consciously clichéd lyrics and hilarious chorus. McGruder sings of Beanie arriving home late after appearing to have been in a fight. Once he looks closely, however, he finds his worst fears realized: His beloved Beanie has been out cheating. What follows is a catchy chorus, complete with backup singers (Ken McLean, Joellen Mulvaney, and Lisa Adamson), singing, 'You've got fur on your lips.' as Beanie howls in the background. You'll find yourself singing right along. Irresistible. The Beanie for Peace Blues Band plays with plenty of energy throughout. In particular, bassist Steve Palter and an uncredited drummer drive things along nicely, anchoring Klein's rollicking piano playing. McGruder's harmonica and Brian Dubin's electric guitar also add to the merriment, if somewhat haphazardly. An unnamed cockatiel even joins in for a pair of songs, briefly threatening to steal Beanie's spotlight. Though the ever-peaceful Beanie is willing to share, Klein wisely keeps the cockatiel's contributions to a minimum. Standout tracks include 'Beanie For Peace,' in which McGruder sings, 'Beanie's a dog who sings for peace/ until it comes, her voice will never cease/ In this mad world where people kill for land/ what's so crazy about a dog who takes a stand?' John Tank's saxophone and Patrick Brennan's trombone give the groove extra punch, while Beanie's pleading howl ties the whole thing together. 'Pachabeanie's Canon' finds Klein singing from Beanie's perspective over the familiar strains of Pachebel's Canon. It's lyrics are a veritable laundry list of love: 'I love you Nicky, I love you Clinky, I love you Jakey, I love you Rosie,' and so forth. This charming gushiness interrupted by, 'I hate the postman, I hate the garbage man,' before slipping back into more words of love. If anything, this momentary vitriol works to illuminate Beanie's true 'humanity.' Who among us loves everyone? It is easy enough to scoff at the idea or a dog singing with a band, and certainly this CD is not for everyone. But listeners willing to laugh along will be rewarded with a wide smile and abundant joy as they share Klein's love for his talented dog friend. 'Fur On Your Lips' comes with a 24-page color booklet, filled with images of Klein's Beanie art pieces, quotes from Beanie's fans, and a goofy timeline of Beanie history.