I was listening to some Beatles the other day, the Love album specifically, which does a cool job of meshing some of the group’s hits. One of the seamless selections was “What You’re Doing” and “Drive My Car,” both of which have “significant” cowbell augmentation.
So it occurred to me: some of the greatest songs ever recorded have included that percussive prop, yet it gets little, if no, respect. Think of it: in elementary school orchestras around the country, they always give the cowbell to the kid who has no discernible musical talent, but he can keep a beat.
Thank heavens for Saturday Night Live and Christopher Walken, who finally gave the cowbell a degree of dignity. This version is even funnier than the original.
Herewith, my choices for the Cowbell Hall of Fame, commentary primarily from Songfacts.com:
- “Walk This Way,” Aerosmith
- “What You’re Doing,” The Beatles (from the Love album as part of a medley with “Drive My Car” and “The Word.”
- “You Can’t Do That,” The Beatles
- “Love Shack,” B-52s
- “Honky Tonk Women,” The Rolling Stones
- “Funkytown,” Lipps, Inc.
- “Rapper’s Delight,” Sugar Hill Gang (see also)
- “Black and White,” Three Dog Night (Sorry, no TDG video)
- “Play That Funky Music,” Wild Cherry