By Michael Lello
“It’s a very stupid song. I thought of it while I was driving on 81 coming back from a gig and finished it while eating pancakes at the Glider Diner.”
That’s what Scranton singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and burgeoning social media promoter Pat Finnerty has to say about his song “Reggae Dog,” and in some ways, that’s all you need to know.
It is a stupid song.
But it’s a successful song, too, by Internet metrics. Since Finnerty posted his song on YouTube about two weeks ago, it has gotten more than 5,000 plays. If you’re friends with Pat on Facebook, well, then you know the song has been making the rounds there, to say the least. It even got the karaoke treatment at Duffy’s Coffee House in Clarks Summit on Wednesday.
“Between the fourth and seventh time I posted it on Facebook, I thought I had something,” he said, alluding to his nonstop barrage of posts, shares and comments, or as Finnerty calls it, “the campaign.”
That campaign – the video by filmmaker, Finnerty’s friend Joe Van Wie; the Facebook posts; the lingo (right dog, wrong dog) – has more substance to it than the song itself. It can be seen as a very meta concept – Finnerty has even recorded “Reggae Dog II: Reflection,” a song about hearing “Reggae Dog”; it makes its debut here today.
There’s also “dogging” people, which Finnerty uses as a response to “the bullshit that people post on Facebook.”
“People I don’t care about, I don’t even know how we are friends. . . . Who are you? What are you talking about? Boom, ‘Reggae Dog.’” He presses the table at the Starbucks where we’re speaking, indicating a Facebook comment.
We noted to Finnerty, who has played in a slew of bands current and defunct, including Okay Paddy, The Sw!ms, And The Moneynotes, Sweatheart and Heavy Blonde, that “Reggae Dog” has equaled or bettered the YouTube hits from his more serious musical projects’ songs that have been posted for several years, not weeks.
“I think it has to do with the fact that everybody has a band, and some of the bands are good, but that doesn’t fuckin’ matter,” he said. “I know a lot of bands, and I was in bands that I really liked, but for some reason they were wrong dog with the public.
“I have two different songs I write,” he continued. “The reason I write one is because I love the Beatles. The other song is because it makes me laugh. For every song I write because I love the Beatles, I write five songs that make me laugh. But I never post them. So I’ve never put anything out.
“This is the one that got the video,” he said.
Friends and fans who have seen Finnerty’s solo bar gigs over the past few years know some of the other songs in that category: “Hog-tied,” an excellent send up of modern pop country, is chief among them. Now that he’s caught people’s attention with “Reggae Dog,” songs like “Hog-tied” might get the video and Facebook treatment, he said.
However, don’t expect him to leverage any success from the latter group of songs to promote the former group of songs – the ones he wrote for more than humor purposes.
“I wasn’t going to take a song like ‘Fraktur’ and post it a thousand times,” he said referring to the Okay Paddy tune. “It would depreciate it.”
Finnerty recognizes that some people have gotten burned out on “Reggae Dog.” And that’s part of “the campaign.”
“It’s got to get really bad before it gets funny,” he said. “By Day Four, some people who were initial backers of the campaign were saying ‘It’s all over my feed.’ What does that even mean? You want to see people at some bullshit beach in New Jersey? I was hoping that all the people that I did not know would start dropping.”
We can’t help but think that maybe the whole thing is a prank, a put-on of the Joaquin Phoenix variety.
“It’s Kaufman-esque, for sure,” Finnerty said. “He read ‘The Great Gatsby’ in its entirety at a show. And a couple people stayed. I would have stayed. And there’s nothing funnier than that.”