a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

The Dogs And The Horses

Lyrics & Music: Neil Hannon

Published by: Damaged Pop Music / BMG Music Publishing Ltd.

Originally interpreted by: The Divine Comedy


To see the lyrics, click on the name of the version you are interested in (on the left).




We don’t really know when the beautiful song was written. Probably at the same time that Liberation and Promenade were written, but it my have been soon after. It was played live since the end of 1994. The acoustic version, recorded in September 1994, is certainly one of the earliest version. We can hear Neil playing it the same way it was played in those days: solo with just a piano. It was recorded during some holidays Neil had in NYC with producer Andy Chase. This version was actually released in a first time on the Inrockuptibles’ Nectar compilation for subscribers only; and released again as a B-side in 1996.
The album version was recorded in 1995 at Abbey Road’s studio 2, this time with a big orchestra and Grant Gordon on drums (his first time with the band). The History says that he was wearing this day a Hawaiian shirt and surf shorts [1], what is hard to take in.
The only time since that when the songs was played again with an orchestra what at the mythical concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on October 20 1996 . This performance has not been released with the many live B-sides of the concert, but exists on the concert video which has, sadly, never been officially released.

This song isn’t actually about dogs and horses (which are Neil’s favourite animals), but about life, death, and the passing of time, Neil’s favourite theme. Life is evoked in a very classical-medieval metaphor: the 4 seasons. Each verse is a season. The last chorus brings on another medieval metaphor: life as a play (“the curtains close”). It’s a metaphor Shakespeare used a lot.
The message of the song, in short, is to enjoy life for life is short. As Horace said: “Carpe diem”.
Of course as conclusive song of Casanova, it serves to strengthen the idea that everything that was said before was only an example of how to enjoy your life.
The sample on the album before the song, at the end of ‘Theme From Casanova’ is taken from a samples record. [2]

[1] Grant Gordon’s biography at Peoplesound
[2] Reference needed