Why on earth would Slacker build a station devoted to songs that feature a cowbell? A better question would be…why wouldn’t Slacker build a station devoted to songs that feature a cowbell?
The cowbell: an idiophone hand percussion instrument used in various styles of music, from salsa to hip hop. Named after the bells historically used by herdsmen to keep track of their livestock. Fancied by the likes of Van Halen, the Beatles, ABBA, Eminem and (most famously) Blue Oyster Cult.
It was the latter band that was featured in a classic Saturday Night Sketch in which a fictional percussionist named Gene Frankel (portrayed by Will Ferrell) is prompted by a fictional producer Bruce Dickinson (portrayed by Christopher Walked) to play “more cowbell.” Those words immediately became a catchphrase…and why would a reference to “more cowbell” become a catchphrase?
Good grief, why wouldn’t it? (Have you learned nothing from our first paragraph?)
Which brings us to the now. Music and pop culture critics Rob Tannenbaum (Rolling Stone, Playboy) and Craig Marks (Spin, Billboard) are regular contributors to Slacker and, while they were recently creating a station called 66 Pretty Much Perfect Songs, they noticed how many landmark tunes incorporated a cowbell. “What if,” they laughed, “We created a countdown of the greatest cowboy songs of all time?”
Ha, ha, ha. This is exactly what we’ve created. Need More Cowbell: The Countdown has arrived.
It’s filled with incredible songs, as well as a plethora of trivia about the cowbell. For example:
- 1904 was a breakthrough year for cowbells, marking their first appearance in music history, thanks to Austrian late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler.
- Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was originally recorded without a cowbell…it was overdubbed later.
- On “99 Problems,” Jay-Z sampled the cowbell from Wilson Pickett’s “Get me Back on Time Engine #9.”
- Our curators have decided that the saddest cowbell song of all time is “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac.
- When the Beastie Boys released the single “Hey Ladies” in 1989, they sent out promotional cowbells to music writers and radio DJ’s.
- When the Rolling Stones go on tour, they have a sample of the original cowbell from “Honky Tonk Woman” programmed into their keyboards.
- The first cowbell song to appear on MTV was “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy.
- The most ironic cowbell appearance was on “Little Sister” by Queens of the Stoneage. When they performed it on SNL, Will Farrell came out on stage as the fictional member of Blue Oyster Cult, Gene Frankel, and he played the cowbell wearing his flared jeans.
- Rob Tannenbaum has a cowbell app on his phone, which is awesome and annoying in equal measures.
And, right about now, we know exactly how you feel. You need more cowbell. You gotta have it. You have the fever…and the only prescription is Need More Cowbell: The Countdown on Slacker Radio.
Click HERE to listen now!