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
See the post of 5/18.
Life in a nutshell.
Michael Hiltzik, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who pens the twice-weekly “Golden State” column for the Los Angeles Times, included this comment in his Jan. 26 column, “There Isn’t Enough Good Entertainment to Go Around,” regarding the recent merger between the WB and UPN networks.
The UPN and WB, which will be folded into a single television network, foundered on the reality that, just as a sports league’s aggressive expansion often dilutes the talent on its rosters, there simply isn’t enough compelling entertainment material to go around. (Alternatively, there hasn’t been enough savvy managerial talent to go around.) The same can be said for the animation business, which saw two of its most significant players, Disney and Pixar, walk down the aisle.
I’ve always thought there were similarities between the two “national pastimes.” To wit:
- Like the better teams, some TV shows remain at the top of their league (ratings) for several years, but eventually fade. (ER = the Atlanta Braves?)
- Like some of the better players, some stars remain with their team for many years (Gunsmoke‘s James Arness = Boston Red Sox’ Ted Williams?)
- Whether you consider it fair or not, UPN and WB, for the most part, are like the minor leagues. They may have some hot properties, both stars and shows, for a few seasons, but they can’t cut it at the Major league/network level.
- And some of those hot rookies and veteran players who find themselves liberated from the TV minors prove themselves to be flashes in the pan. (Freddie Prinze Jr., who portrayed a baseball player in Summer Catch = Joe Charboneau, who appeared in the role of “additional Knight” in the baseball movie, The Natural?)
- In both genres, some mediocre talents manage to hang, moving from team to team or show to show. Failed TV personalities, like failed managers, always seem to find a job somewhere.
- Both are considered in terms of seasons. Fans of both forms of entertainment look forward to the promise of the new season.
- Baseball has the World Series, in which (presumably) the best stars and most important games are highlighted; TV has “sweeps,” in which the best (guest) stars and most important episodes are highlighted.
- Network show up on baseball games, ostensibly to hump their shows which, by an amazing coincidence, just happen to appear on the network that airs those games; baseball players show up on network shows, ostensibly to show that they have talents beyond the playing field.
- Viewers of both baseball and TV believe they can do better than what they’re watching.
On the other hand, while baseball games do fairly well on the tube, programs about baseball — Bay City Blues, Ball Four, Baseball Wives — well, not so good.