Betty Grass.jpg
Old Black Betty during her wonder years.
First the bad news: My beloved cat Betty passed away suddenly on the 4th of July. It was

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The Happy Trails Mixtape: Top 10 Songs of Consolation When You Lose a Cat

Betty Grass.jpg
Old Black Betty during her wonder years.
First the bad news: My beloved cat Betty passed away suddenly on the 4th of July. It was unexpected; just the day before she was bounding off the coffee table and scrapping with her sister Matilda. In my shock I considered reaching out to my fellow Reverb contributors for song suggestions to ease the pain, but then I reminded myself to just write about it. As Jessamyn West said, "Writing of the past is a resurrection; the past then lives in your words and you are free." With that, I have the good news and some music for you: The Happy Trails Mixtape, a compilation of songs that are quirky, funny, and sweet--just like old black Betty herself. If you've ever lost a cherished pet, I hope these songs strike a chord and you remember your furry friend fondly and with tenderness.

Here's to you, Betty. You will be dearly missed.

10. "Old Black Betty," Ram Jam. OK, this song is specific to my cat, but seriously, this was her theme song. Side note: if you ever get a black kitty in the future, consider naming her Betty. She will be awesome.

9. "She's Gone," Hall & Oates. This sappy little song has been on a loop in my mind this last week. The lamenting lyrics: "She's Gone/Oh why/Oh why/I'd better learn how to face it . . . I'd pay the devil to replace her" are cheesy, but oh-so-easy to cry along with.

8. "The Littlest Birds," Jolie Holland. Holland's newest album Pint of Blood contains the singer's latest version of this song (with lyrics borrowed from Syd Barrett). The words: "I love you so dearly/I love you fearlessly/I wake you up in the morning so early" recall my reliable kitty alarm clock--Betty's soft paw ever-so-gently batting me awake.

7. "Me and My Arrow," Harry Nilsson. This classic buddy song from the animated fable The Point! is tried and true. Sure, he's talking about a dog, but you get the idea.

6. "You're My Best Friend," Queen. A fitting tribute to a creature a friend dubbed "an oversized affection sponge stuffed with unconditional love."

5. "Why Do Dogs Have to Be Such Jerks?", Doug Newman. My best friend worked for years at Haight Ashbury Music Center, and one day a man stopped by peddling an album he'd recorded at home titled "The Cat Album." It contained no less than 30 tracks all about cats, exploring the whole spectrum of feline behavior--from cats who like to eat peas to the hairballs they get--and "WDDHTBSJ?" is an ultra-quirky selection. Runner up: Newman's tender instrumental, "Goodbye Kitty."

4. "Happy Trails," Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. Sure, Evans and Rogers wrote the sleepy tune, but David Lee Roth's snarky cover is more appropriate for the frisky kitty I knew and loved.

3. "Wildcat," Ratatat. The cool-down, instrumental part of the mix, in honor of the untamed beast in all felines.

2. "Miles From Nowhere," Cat Stevens. This song from the movie Harold and Maude--a film about attachment, loss, and acceptance--is deeply powerful. It's just a coincidence the dude's name is Cat.

1. Pretty much the entire triple album All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. Pick one: "What is Life?", "Behind That Locked Door," "Art of Dying," "All Things Must Pass," "I Dig Love," "If Not for You," etc. This huge work, conceived shortly after the breakup of the Beatles, is teaming with probing, existential questions and solid, air-tight rock. A song like "Wah-Wah" doesn't make it easier to get over the pain, but it does make it a bit easier to plow on through.

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