Banker, author, and occasional lyricist James Warburg, seen here long after his songwriting days had ended.

I had read that composer Kay Swift had written some songs for her children with the assistance of her then-husband James (“Jimmy”) Warburg. Having heard songs that Swift wrote for her grandchildren, I was expecting simple, kid-friendly melodies and harmonies. Instead I discovered that “Doggie” sounded more like a classical work she had written during her music training at Julliard (before it was called Julliard). Why she (or someone else) decided it needed juvenile lyrics, I’m not quite sure, but I’m glad they did.

James Warburg was an international banker and sometime-advisor to the President, who may be Broadway’s least likely lyricist of all time! If his wife had not been a serious and talented composer (and asked for his help), it seems highly unlikely that Warburg would have ever pursued becoming a professional lyricist. Warburg was well-educated with a keen literary interest and went on to publish many books on national and international affairs during his lifetime. His lyrics are fresh, clever and show no marks of being written by an amateur. In fact, it took me quite a few passes at his lyrics to realize that Warburg’s “Doggie” who “hardly eats at all” may actually be a beloved stuffed animal.

Download fake-book style sheet music to “Doggie” here: Doggie

Here is a rendition of “Doggie” as written in her original manuscript:


And here is a less classical version of “Doggie” using her same melody but with a jazzier rhythm:


Lyrics to “Doggie” by James Warburg:

My doggie is a special kind.
Another one you’ll never find
so white and soft and wooly.

He has a most delightful head
and always sits upon my bed
and understands me fully.

His meals are very very small.
In fact, he hardly eats at all.
Most dogs are awful gluttons.

He’s sad ‘cause now and then he sigh
and looks at me with mournful eyes.
They’re really bootie buttons.


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