Pelled puts an enchanting spin on Norma Tanegas oddball folk-rock classic.
Pelled puts an enchanting spin on Norma Tanega's oddball folk-rock classic. Courtesy of Dida Pelled

Dida Pelled, "Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog" (Tompkins Square)

Tompkins Square's Imaginational Anthem series reliably yields guitar-centric treasures from the cosmic-folk end of the music spectrum. The great Ryley Walker curates the ninth and latest edition, and it's one of the better ones. (Check it out here.) The standout, though, is New York-based Israeli guitarist Dida Pelled's "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog," a cover of the late Norma Tanega's 1966 hit.

Maybe it's because I've recently become obsessed with Tanega's album of the same title that I chose this track, but there's no denying Pelled's inspired interpretation of the original endearing tune. (Real Gone Music reissued the Tanega LP last year, although it's sold out. Demand a repress!) "Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog" remains one of the most beguiling songs of the '60s, marked by an oddly warbling harmonica. It features a folky take on the irrepressible mid-'60s Motown rhythm that never fails to elate. Tanega fills the song with unexpected melodic swerves and imbues the quirky tale with a vocal timbre somewhere between Buffy Sainte-Marie and Dusty Springfield.

Pelled's version dispenses with the harmonica and emphasizes her pellucid guitar picking while augmenting the tune with tambourine and ghostly chants. These latter two elements trigger thoughts of the halcyonic glow imbuing '60s Beach Boys songs such as "Good Vibrations" and "Wild Honey." Her voice bears a charming English-as-second-language earnestness, lending the song a twee luster. Let's hope this adorable cover further elevates both Pelled and Tanega's profiles.