A four-track EP released by Glasgow pop septet Belle and Sebastian on May 12, 1997. The Dog on Wheels EP was one of three released by the band during 1997 on the UK Jeepster label. Along with the other two EPs, Lazy Line Painter Jane and 3.. 6.. 9.. Seconds of Light, Dog on Wheels was re-released and repackaged as a three CD set under the title Lazy Line Painter Jane by Matador Records in 2000. The EPs are easy to find in North America in this form, and should be at any self-respecting independent music store, and even at some of the more mainstream ones.
Dog On Wheels
The State I Am In
String Bean Jean
Belle & Sebastian
The EP's first track, Dog on Wheels combines driving melody and rhythm with melancholy balladry. The song opens with a little quiet guitar noodling and then opens up into a steady bass rhythm and Stuart Murdoch's lispy vocals. The purely "innocent" and "precious" tone of some of Belle and Sebastian's work is epitomized on this sugar-sweet track, with its unusually straight-forward lyrics (barring the last stanza about the about the mysteriously bewheeléd canine...) that topic most quintessentially pop: love. "Every song I ever wrote was written for you," sings Murdoch. A brilliantly clear trumpet (or cornet) melody joins in and Murdoch ends the song with a round of "la la la"s and horn accompaniment.
The State I Am In, track two, is a reworking of a song that originally appeared on the group's once-rare debut album, Tigermilk. It showcases Stuart Murdoch's lyrical brilliance, with witty and suggestive lines that contrast with the polite, sweet music, giving the song the sharply subversive quality that marks much of Belle and Sebastian's best work. Lyrics about a corrupt priest who writes a "pocket novel" using the confessions of his spiritual charges as material, a child bride introduced to "whiskey and gin", and a narrator who off-handedly remarks, "I was so touched, I was moved to kick the crutches / From my crippled friend." The song's most strikingly humorous lines read, "My brother had confessed that he was gay / It took the heat off me for a while." Subtle but beautiful guitar and piano melodies augment the song's lyrical contents.
Track three, String Bean Jean, begins with a fuzzy, retro guitar flourish and continues in the Belle and Sebastian tradition by combining pretty, twee melodies with disturbing lyrics that suggest anorexia. The song ends with the lines, "She asked me 'Do I need to lose a bit of weight?' / And I said 'Now don't be stupid 'cause you're looking great' / And I call her String Bean Jean because the label on her jeans says / Seven to eight years old - well that's pretty small."
The EP's fourth and final track, is the eponymous Belle And Sebastian. Its lyrics are possibly related to "a story written by Stuart about a boy named Sebastian and a girl named Belle" (Jeepster B&S FAQ), telling a loose tale of a boy's ill-fated love for a girl. "He wants to love and he wants to care," sings Murdoch, "but when the girls hear that they think he's so square." Poor Sebastian also crashes his car in the rain, which isn't cool. The song opens with a syrupy-sweet music-box melody and includes a flute. This song pushes the envelope of self-consciousness cuteness, almost careening over the edge. But it's pretty, so it's okay.
Belle and Sebastian were: ***
Chris Geddes (keyboards)
Sarah Martin (violin)
Isobel Campbell (cello)
Stevie Jackson (guitar)
Stuart Murdoch (guitar, lyrics, vocals)
Stuart David (bass)
Richard Colburn (drums)
*** All the members of the band play multiple instruments, this info is just general.
Dog on Wheels Lyrics
When I was a boy I was confounded by you
Now I'm still a boy I am indebted to you
Every song I ever wrote was written for you
Written for you
Now I'm feeling flat you seem mile away
I'm so tired that down on the pavement
Till the blossom on
the tree comes falling on me
Fall on me
From my window I can see the mountains in snow
From my window I will shut my eyes and let go
Promise me you'll always be around when I call
And when I fall
On the river bridge up on the wall, looking down
On the river bridge, to me a vision
If I could hold on to things till I was full grown
Peace would I know
To my dog on wheels I'll tell my pleasures and woes
To my dog on wheels I'll tell my secrets and more
Then one day in spring I'll take him down to the road