I’ve got a fever… but there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of cowbell song lists already on the Internet. So fuck it — here’s another one. At least it’s short. These are three random tunes I heard on a recent long-distance car ride with my family. Not sure how they slept through these jams, because I was not holding back.
“More cowbell!” is a phrase now part of the pop-culture lexicon, thanks to Christopher Walken’s character Bruce Dickinson in the Saturday Night Live sketch starring Will Ferrell as the cowbellist. I even sometimes use it in other contexts. Like if I’m making chili and it needs more spice, I’ll holler “More cowbell!” as I shake in more red pepper flakes and chili powder.
I’ve never seen any of these three tunes on any of the lists, so I guess these are “cowbell deep cuts.” Turn it up and rip off the knob!
“Hear About it Later” — Van Halen (1981)
Here, Alex gives us a great example of situational cowbell. He doesn’t lay it on too thick. The ‘bell kicks in for Eddie’s solo from 02:42 to 03:20 — 38 luscious seconds of the absolute ultimate cowbell.
In this bonus live clip, you can catch a glimpse of Alex’s actual cowbell!
“If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)” — Pete Droge (1994)
Pete Droge was one of the lesser-known artists to come out of the Pacific Northwest in the ’90s. But this may be the best cowbell of the grunge era. The ‘bell first kicks in at 00:47, then powers the choruses. This is epic cowbell tone; you know savvy producer Brendan O’Brien gave that shit it’s own track.
“You Can’t Do That” — The Beatles (1964)
Robin Zander of Cheap Trick hosted the Sirius XM Beatles channel’s New Year countdown of the top 60 Beatles rock songs (as voted by fans). I learned from Robin that this was the b-side of “Can’t Buy Me Love.” It was also the first guitar solo from John on a recording, and the first time George recorded his 12-string guitar. But Robin didn’t need to tell me that Ringo (or somebody) clanked the hell out of the cowbell on this track.