If you grew up Catholic, chances are you're familiar with the great St. Francis of Assisi. For many Catholic school children, he's a longtime favorite. There's a good chance this is because of St. Francis' well-documented love of animals and, when you're a kid, that's a pretty strong shared interest to have. Even the current leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, takes his name as a tribute to twelfth-century friar who devoted his life to helping those in poverty. This Saturday is St. Francis' official feast day, a celebration marked during the Catholic school year by the all-school mass where students are encouraged to bring their pets from home in order to be blessed. It is with a bird in our hand that we bring you our St. Francis of Assisi Day playlist!
Peter, Paul and Mary – "All God's Critters"
Starting things off it an overture about all the animals whose existence Peter, Paul and Mary were hip to. "All God's Critters" is a favorite of those hippie daycare workers who would whip out the acoustic guitar and kick out the folk jams. The humor at play keeps it from becoming overly preachy, but its message that all animals serve a purpose is one we can get down with.
George Clinton – "Atomic Dog"
St. Francis' legacy of being a welcoming, peaceful presence wherever he ventured to had longstanding effects that are still being felt today, including his visit to Egypt that ensured the permitted stability of the Franciscan order of Catholics in the area for centuries to come. It's sort of like how the funk of George Clinton has permeated an influence on a staggering amount of pop music created in its wake. His classic about a famous canine, "Atomic Dog," remains one of the most sampled tracks in music history, with some estimates putting it as being sampled by as many as five songs since you started reading this sentence. The video is also an unbelievable trip.
The Tokens – "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
Probably the most peaceful song about the king of the jungle ever written, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is one of those infectious standards that seems to never leave our lives. And did we mention, it's public domain? That's right, for those of you looking to shoot a St. Francis biopic over the weekend, you can use "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," royalty free!
The Trashmen – "Surfin' Bird"
One of Minnesota's finest exports, The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" has gotten many a party started for over 50 years. St. Francis is often depicted with a bird in his hand, going back to a famous story of him preaching to a group of feathered friends who, taken by the sound of his voice, did not leave his side. Also, "Surfin' Bird" was on Family Guy.
Aesop Rock – "Ruby '81"
By being kind to animals, it's easy to find that they'll be kind right back. On rapper Aesop Rock's 2012 album Skelethon, he tells the tale of Ruby, a pup who goes rogue one fourth of July while a family watches fireworks to save a drowning two-year-old. With St. Francis' love of creation, it's heartwarming to hear tales of creation further spreading that love amongst each other. Everybody say "good dog."