A few months ago Carrie wrote here about Goebbel Reeves’ “A Dog For Outer Space“, his ode to Laika, the dog who was launched into orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. It seems that Reeves’ hand-written lyrics don’t represent the only country song written about the canine cosmonaut, as we recently stumbled upon a song called “Sputnik Dog” in the Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs Picture Album, Hymn and Songbook (FL-417 in the SFC Song Folios Collection). Compared to Reeves’ tearjerker, the Flatt and Scruggs version of the Laika story (reproduced below) is a good deal more celebratory, though a little confused about the nature of the dog’s journey and his prospects for a safe return:
Goebel Reeves, the Depression-era singer-songwriter better known as “The Texas Drifter”, penned plenty of songs about the hobo life, including his friend Jimmie Rodgers’ hit “Hobo’s Lullaby”. While Reeves certainly crafted his share of songs about the lonely freedom that was the human hobo’s lot in life, he had a soft spot for his four-legged friends, as well.
Reeves wrote at least four songs about dogs, including the heartstring-tugging “The Drifter’s Pup” and “I Love My Dog”. Reeves didn’t shy away from portraying the darker side of canine life, either, as is evident from titles like “The Poisoned Dog”, found on an undated radio transcription disc, and the chilling account of “A Dog for Outer Space”, reproduced here:
Laika the cosmonaut dog was launched into space on Nov. 3, 1957. These lyrics were included in a letter sent to Australian record collector John Edwards on December 10th of that year, and can now be found in the Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name File Collection.