The cowbell is not just a popular instrument to add jazz-like rhythms, but also an iconic piece of rock and roll percussion. It has been used in the classic rock songs such as “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley, “Nina, Pretty Ballerina” by The Beatles, and “Dead End Street” by Led Zeppelin. The cowbell has become a popular symbol of rhythm throughout history. It also is not just a single instrument but can be paired with many types of instruments or even played alone to create different effects. Drummers with different styles use the cowbell’s unique sound to their advantage. In this article, we’ll count down the best songs that feature cowbell as a unique element of the song.
10. “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin
“Good Times Bad Times” begins with an intro from an acoustic guitar and then a ragged drumbeat enters. As the drumbeat continues, a cowbell comes in and accompanies it. The song has a fast, upbeat rhythm but uses the cowbell to add a bit of jazz-style to the song. The drums and cowbells play off each other for the entire duration of the song. It was named by NME as one of “The 10 Coolest Songs By Led Zeppelin”, with good reason.
9. “Stone Free” by Jimi Hendrix
“Stone Free” is a song from the first album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was an experiment in psychedelic rock using ambient noises and other sounds. For example, the band recorded the sound of a car driving by and then played it to add a bit of background noise. The cowbell plays an important part throughout this song to add an element of funk to it.
8. “Low Rider” by War
“Low Rider” is from War’s debut album by the same name. With a funky beat and rhythm, the cowbell plays an important role to add a bit of complexity to the song. The drums and bass are playing in a different time signature, while the cowbell plays in its own rhythm. This results in a song that has several unique elements but still flows well as one piece.
7. “Rock Lobster” By The B-52s
“Rock Lobster” is a song by The B-52s that combines rock and roll with a funk beat. The cowbell plays a unique rhythm along with the rest of the song, but it becomes more prominent as it continues. Throughout the song, there are several cowbell breaks where it takes over for a small section of time. These breaks give the song an interesting listening experience.
6. “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad
“We’re An American Band” is an example of how two instruments can be combined to form a unique piece of music. The song’s rhythm is based around the cowbell and the drums, while adding in a steady bass line. The vocals fade in and out throughout the song, with each being short and quick.
5. “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys
The cowbell plays a large part during the rap verses in “Sabotage”. The song is fast-paced and the beats are hard-hitting. The drums, guitars, and bass all play together to create a unique rhythm. However, it is the cowbell that brings this song together and gives it a piece of its own.
4. “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang
“Rapper’s Delight” is one of the first rap songs ever made. The entire song features a steady rhythm with some great melodies played throughout. In addition, a steady cowbell beat is played during the chorus of the song. The vocalist repeats phrases in a chant-like manner while the cowbell plays its steady rhythm. It makes you want to get up and dance when you hear it.
3. “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones
“Honky Tonk Women” is another song from the Rolling Stones that builds off of a strong rhythm. It begins with a slow and steady beat, but then breaks into a faster tempo verse. As noted by NME, The cowbell plays an important part within this song by adding a bit of funky flavor to the entire rhythm. The cowbell also plays an important role in the bridge of the song during a guitar solo.
2. “T.N.T.” by AC/DC
AC/DC’s second album has some of the band’s best songs ever written, but “T.N.T.” is the most iconic and most popular one they’ve ever made. The song begins with a bass drum and then a steady cowbell rhythm that carries throughout the entire song, only changing up once in a while at certain points to keep things interesting. The song’s chorus works perfectly with a cowbell because of the stoccado notes, which is a technique in which notes are held for a minimum of four beats before releasing. The solo also works amazingly well with the cowbell because it is played in 4/4 and has the same key as the chorus, so it sounds like it was destined to happen with the cowbell.
1. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult
“Don’t Fear The Reaper” is the best example of a cowbell being used to make a song special. It is one of the best songs of all time because it features some amazing lyrics that are both fun to listen to and meaningful at the same time. The song has a steady bass drum with different rhythms throughout that give it its bluesy feel, but the cowbell is what makes this song so great. The cowbell in the song was made famous by the incredibly funny skit on Saturday Night Live featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, where the skit is stopped by a cowbellist, as mentioned by Ultimate Classic Rock.
The cowbell is an instrument that has been used since the beginning of agriculture for communication and entertainment. It is a unique piece of equipment that has been used in many different ways throughout the years. These ten cowbell tracks are known for their unique sounds and have helped define the instrument as well as the genre of music they are played in. If you wish to add your own cowbell tracks to the list, feel free to do so in the comments below any of the other cowbells listed.