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Norma Tanega (1939–2019), folk singer who had a hit with “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog”

Getty Images / BIPS/Hulton Archive / Caroline Gillies

Tanega also recorded "You're Dead," used as the theme song for the 2015 movie "What We Do in the Shadows"

Norma Tanega was a folk singer and experimental musician who had a single hit, the 1966 song “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog.” The track reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was later covered by artists including Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, Yo La Tengo, and They Might Be Giants. Her other songs include “You’re Dead,” which was used as the theme song for the 2015 movie “What We Do in the Shadows.” Tanega was also a songwriter who wrote and cowrote songs for Dusty Springfield, with whom she had a romantic relationship, including “No Stranger Am I,” “The Colour of Your Eyes,” and Midnight Sounds.”

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Died: December 29, 2019 (Who else died on December 29?)

Details of death: Died at home in Claremont, California of colon cancer at the age of 80.


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Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog: Tanega’s best-known song was about a real cat — named Dog. It was Tanega’s cat, named in tribute to the dog she wanted to have but couldn’t have in her apartment. And Tanega did, in fact, walk the cat around town.

Notable quote: “I just want to sing for people. You might say it’s mass love.” —from a 1966 interview with the Detroit Free Press

What people said about her: “RIP Norma Tanega. She was known for her one hit wonder recording, circa 1966, 'Walking My Cat Named Dog.' I have this record (original, from 1966). Those of us at a certain age will remember it.” —Twitter user @franksanfilipp2

Full obituary: The New York Times

Related lives:

  • Dusty Springfield (1939–1999), singer whose hits include “Son of a Preacher Man” and “I Only Want to Be With You”
  • Phoebe Snow (1952–2011), singer who had a hit with “Poetry Man”
  • Odetta (1930–2008), folk singer who was a voice of the Civil Rights Movement