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Retro Redux: In Search Of A Salty Dog

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Just browsing through old pictures again, and I happened across one that includes a really cute little fella. No, not me. I'm referring to the puppy I'm holding, although I have to blushingly admit that I did possess a little touch of cuteness myself (long since lost).

A lot of dogs and a slew of years have passed, blurring any memories I might have had of that particular puppy, but I do recognize the place. It was the corner in front of the big house we inhabited during my pre-school years. And even though I don't medogremember the pooch, I'm pretty sure that neither of us would have qualified as a "salty dog".

Salty dogs have made plenty of appearances in the musical world, and even though we might all have a general idea of the meaning of the phrase, it might be worth pausing for a definition. Most sources broadly define it in one of two ways: a salty dog is either a very experienced sailor (or marine), or a rascally character who might be cantankerous or just raunchy and randy.

So I guess it might be up to each of us to decide if we are in fact a salty dog (or know one), but one thing I'm sure of is that it's also the subject of a classic song, one that's been recorded by a long list of artists through the years. Good examples would include an instrumental on "Salty Dog Rag" by the legendary Chet Atkins, and a version that might surprise you because it's by a guy who was better known for a different kind of music.

In the mid to late 1960s, teen idol Ricky Nelson was moving closer to country music (and calling himself Rick), and he generated a pair of albums that were under-appreciated at the time. But Bright Lights & Country Music and its followup Country Fever, were solid collections. One of the tracks on the latter was his version of "Salty Dog," and there's not much doubt that Rick was one himself.

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  • Yep, pretty good song too. As for the drink, it always reminded me of having salt on my grapefruit — which some people like, but yuk…

    Thanks for the comment, Glen

  • I always was partial to the drink called a Salty Dog. I also liked the Procol Harum tune with that name.