Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs with Weird, Funky or Cool Instruments

It’s Monday and you know what that means: It’s time for Monday’s Music Moves Me. I’m honored to be serving as one of this month’s Co-Hosts. My final theme for the month, songs with unique or unusual instruments, is one I’ve been looking forward to working on for a few months now. And I bet none of you will be surprised that I’ve decided to turn it into a series. Haha. That’s right, welcome to Part 1 of my Songs with Weird, Funky and Cool Instruments series. At this point I haven’t yet decided on how many parts this series will have but I’ll figure that out soon.

I’m starting off with a simple and not very unusual instrument because when I chose the theme, this instrument was the first that came to mind. I’m also keeping it short because, well, some of you already know that I had a little bump in my road a few days ago. I fell on my deck, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, I fell on my GOOD shoulder. Most of you know that I had shoulder reconstruction surgery back in April due to two full-thickness tears in my rotator cuff that resulted from a fall, when I slipped on a still wet freshly mopped floor and my shoulder came crashing into the fireplace bricks. The surgery I had, arthroscopic superior capsule reconstruction for irreparable rotator cuff tears (aka SCI) is fairly new (5 years) and quite intense. I’m still in physical therapy for that one and my range of motion is very limited still (only at 60 degrees). So the other day, when I fell over, like a damn tree falling in the woods, and hit hard the cement pad with my good shoulder, I knew immediately it wasn’t good. I laid there for a few minutes while the dogs all gathered around me, sniffing at my face, — and do you believe not one of them offered to help me up! Not one! Good grief!–

I went to see my orthopedic surgeon on Friday. His P.A. saw me and after looking at the x-rays told me there were no broken bones. BUT the fact that I am unable to lift my arm over my head it is indicative and symptomatic of a rotator cuff tear. I couldn’t believe it. And in my already fragile state, I just started to cry. I can’t even express how mad I am at God right now. Where the hell were my angels when I was falling? Why didn’t they catch me? After everything I’ve been through over these last several years and now this? I’m real fucking pissed off.

But like Steve (the P.A.) said, it was only the second day since the injury. He said to give it a few days to calm down. And let’s just pray that it’s only a contusion (bruised muscle). They are sending me for an MRI, which is scheduled for Wednesday this week. I’m holding out hope but I don’t think I’ll be that lucky. I still can’t lift it over my head. My life sucks sometimes…

Because I’ve been hanging out with ice packs for the last few days I haven’t had a lot of time to spend on the 4M post. So I’m going to start off with a simple playlist of songs that utilize the cool instrument known as the COWBELL

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It may not be particularly unusual as many bands incorporate cowbells into their music. Actually many more than I expected. But I love a cowbell.

What is a cowbell, you ask? Well, it is exactly what it says it is. It’s a bell that was used for cows. The bell was hung around a cow’s neck in order to help locate the animal by the noise it makes. its origin can be traced to freely roaming animals. Though the bells were used on various types of animals, they are typically referred to as “cowbells” due to their extensive use with cattle.

At some point it was discovered to also be useful in making music. Wikipedia says “The cowbell is an idiophone hand percussion instrument used in various styles of music including salsa and infrequently in popular music.” But I’ve discovered that the cowbell has often been used in popular music.

The song that most screams cowbell to me is Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” because it was featured on one of Saturday Night Live’s most memorable skits. Airing in April of 2000, the sketch, called “More Cowbell”, is unforgettable with guest host Christopher Walken and the hilarious Will Farrell and other SNL cast members Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell, Chris Kattan and Horatio Sanz.

I so wanted to include the video of the complete sketch here but apparently copyright issues are keeping it from being available. There are snippets of it here and there but I can no longer find a video that has the sketch in its entirety. If you have never seen this particular SNL sketch, do yourself a favor and try to find it somewhere. (If you do find the whole thing, please let me know!).

Since I can’t embed the actual performance video for you, I’ll just provide the Wikipedia synopsis, in case you’re interested in what all the hoopla is about this most memorable SNL skit. If you’re not interested, just scroll through the next few paragraphs.

Here is a 44-second snippet blend of the SNL original More Cowbell sketch:

“More Cowbell” is a comedy sketch that aired on Saturday Night Live on April 8, 2000. The sketch is presented as an episode of VH1’s documentary series Behind the Music that fictionalizes the recording of the song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult. The sketch featured guest host Christopher Walken as music producer “The Bruce Dickinson”, and regular cast member Will Ferrell, who wrote the sketch with playwright Donnell Campbell, as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle, whose overzealous playing annoys his bandmates but pleases producer Dickinson. The sketch also starred Chris Parnell as Eric Bloom, Jimmy Fallon as Albert Bouchard, Chris Kattan as Buck Dharma and Horatio Sanz as Joe Bouchard.

The sketch is often considered one of the greatest SNL sketches ever made, and in many “best of” lists regarding SNL sketches, it is often placed in the top ten, being ranked number nine by Rolling Stone. As a result of its popularity, “more cowbell” became an American pop culture catchphrase.

Sketch Synopsis

An episode of VH1’s Behind the Music documenting the band Blue Öyster Cult showcases footage of the group from a 1976 recording session that produced the band’s biggest hit, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” The producer (played by Christopher Walken) introduces himself as “The Bruce Dickinson” and tells the band they have “what appears to be a dynamite sound.” The first take seems to go well but the band stops playing because the cowbell part is rather loud and distracting. Dickinson, to the surprise of most of the band, asks for “a little more cowbell” and suggests that the cowbell player, Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell), “really explore the studio space this time.” Frenkle’s exuberance in following this advice causes him to bump into his bandmates as he dances around the cramped studio, thrusting his pelvis wildly in all directions, and the band aborts another take.

Frenkle sheepishly agrees to tone down his performance in the spirit of cooperation. He passive-aggressively plays the cowbell very close to Eric Bloom (Chris Parnell)’s ear and fails to keep time with the rest of the band. The rest of the band expresses frustration with Frenkle, but Dickinson remains focused only on getting more cowbell onto the track. Frenkle makes an impromptu speech to the rest of the band, declaring that Dickinson’s stature lends a great deal of weight to his opinion about the cowbell part and that the last time he (Frenkle) checked, they didn’t have “a whole lot of songs that feature the cowbell” and therefore he would be “doing himself a disservice, and every member of the band” if he “didn’t perform the hell out of this.” In the end, the band agrees to let Frenkle play the cowbell part his way. The sketch ends with a freeze frame on Frenkle with the superimposed message: “In Memoriam: Gene Frenkle: 1950–2000.”

It may be hard to see the actual SNL sketch in its entirety online for free at this time but there are a bunch of remakes and tributes to it on YouTube. This isn’t the best one but it gave me a chuckle when I watched it, especially because they portray Blue Oyster Cult with a two-man band. From the 2016 Sycamore Junior High Talent Show, here are Casey Johnson, Andrew Sprowl, and Connor Carto:

Okay, so that’s it for Blue Oyster Cult & “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” My next favorite song that I thought of immediately when thinking cowbells is Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog.” There are actually several great classic rock songs that utilize the cowbell. But since I’m tired and I really want nothing more than to take a pain pill, grab the huge ice pack that is waiting for me in the freezer and hit my bed, I’m just going to list the songs I’m featuring in the Cowbell playlist. I may come back and add some informational tidbits over the next few days so feel free to stop back by. I may even add more songs. But right now, I just wanna go to bed with my ice…

Oh, before I go, let me just tell you a little bit about the series before I sign off. Each part of the series will describe instruments that are not widely used or not widely known, followed by a playlist featuring songs using those particular instruments. The series is still under construction so you’ll have to join me on the 4M dance floor for the rest of the it, dates to be announced later. It won’t be next week though because that Freebie week will feature the final installment in my Aging and Getting Old(er) series.

Without further ado, here is Part 1 of Songs with Weird, Funky & Cool Instruments, featuring the Cowbell Edition playlist:

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult

Hair of the Dog by Nazareth

Mississippi Queen by Mountain

Never Been Any Reason by Head East

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by BTO

Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo by Rick Derringer

Honky Tonk Woman by Rolling Stones

Fool for the City by Foghat

Slip Kid by The Who

You Can’t Do That by the Beatles

Drive My Car by the Beatles

Low Rider by War

Time Has Come Today by the Chamber Brothers

We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad

Down On the Corner by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Born on the Bayou by CCR

Funk #49 by the James Gang

Nightrain by Guns & Roses

Out Go the Lights by Aerosmith

Photography by Def Leppard

Rock of Ages by Def Leppard

Working for the Weekend by Loverboy

We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel

Rock Lobster by the B-52s

How cool was that for a total hit parade of classic rock classics?! This may be one of my favorite playlists that I’ve put together. And the other thing that’s cool about it is that it totally qualifies to be part of Mary’s Rocktober Music Fest at her blog Jingle Jangle Jungle! Yay! She’s had some really kickass rock songs every single day this month and there’s still more to come. Be sure to check it out! #RocktoberMusicFest

That wraps up the Cowbell edition. What is your favorite Cowbell song? Come back in a few weeks for Part 2 of the Weird, Funky & Cool Instruments series. What instruments do you want to see featured? Can you guess what instrument(s) I’m going to bring to Part 2? 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Colette of Jamerican Spice. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:




25 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs with Weird, Funky or Cool Instruments

  1. Hi, Michele!

    I hope you got a good night’s sleep and that your arm and shoulder are feeling better hour by hour. You have the worst darned luck! Please be careful on your deck and wherever you walk that your dogs might tinkle. Remember the title of that Bon Jovi album: Slippery When Wet.

    When I thought of famous songs that make use of the cowbell, the first one that came to mind was “Honky Tonk Women.” Compared to that recording and some of these others, the Oyster Cult’s use of the instrument was rather subdued. However, that SNL sketch looks hilarious. Walken was an excellent guest on the show and he always made me laugh. The cowbell is much more prominent on “Hair Of The Dog,” for example. Mountain be jammin’! That band is a favorite of mine and I have featured them on my blog over the years. In 2011, founder Leslie West needed to have his lower right leg amputated as a result of complications from diabetes. He’s still rockin’ – something for you to remember and hopefully to be inspired by. Ohio product Ricky Zehringer had a band called Rick and the Raiders but, in order to avoid confusion with Paul Revere and the Raiders, the band’s name was changed to The McCoys. The band’s cover of “Hang On Sloopy” (originally “My Girl Sloopy” by the Vibrations) was a monster hit and Ricky adopted the stage name Rick Derringer inspired by the Band Records logo which featured a derringer pistol. First recorded by Johnny Winter’s band – Johnny Winter And – “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” is one of my favorite rock songs, cowbell and all. Foghat is another band that brings back that particular era when so much great music was being made. Do you think the style of rock recordings exemplified by “Fool For The City” and other songs on this list will ever be a major part of the popular music mainstream again? Are there many young up-and coming bands dedicated to making this kind of rock? This stuff was the dope, wasn’t it? I forgot all about the Beatles use of the cowbell on “You Can’t Do That,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Drive My Car,” the latter my favorite of the three and a song from my favorite Beatles album Rubber Soul. “Low Rider” and “Time Has Come Today” are two more classics featuring the prominent sound of the cowbell. I also forgot all about Grand Funk Railroad’s use of the instrument on “American Band.” This is a super set of songs that I haven’t heard in a long time! CCR’s “Bayou” and James Gang’s Funk #49″ are two more great ones. I had both of those on vinyl. Can’t get enough of that Def Leppard stuff. That band had one ear pleasing pop metal hit after another.

    This was very enjoyable, Michele. Thanks for assembling this awesome playlist of rock recordings featuring the sound of the cowbell. Please feel better soon and remember I’m thinking about you, dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Tom! I am starting to feel better! I can stretch my arm out a bit farther and I’m hoping & praying that when I have the MRI (this time with sedation), it will show there to be NO Tear! It’s still painful but much less. I’m still icing though as that seems to provide some relief. I overdid it the other day and am paying for it this weekend. So a lot of rest and TV time today! Anyway, thanks for all the good thoughts.

      I am so happy that you found my playlist here to be a great one. It is, isn’t it?! All of those songs were from “my” era and I KNOW you’re right: there just will be no other decade that will make rock like the music of the 70s. It’s the best, hands down! And I’m so grateful that I got to spend the best years of my life in that decade. It set the stage for my lifetime of music appreciation. And this list I put together would be a perfect road-trip tape (tape! Lol)

      That is so cool about Rick Derringer! I had no idea about his band the McCoys and that he did Hang On Sloopy (I love that song!). Neat how he came up with his name. I saw him in concert way back when. It was one of my earliest concerts: he opened for Peter Frampton.

      Hope you’re having a good weekend. “See” you soon! Thanks for your awesome comment! It thrills me that my playlist had you groovin’ and taking a step back in time to the good ol’ days of rock & roll. 🙂


  2. Michele,

    I’m sorry to hear about your mishap. It sure does feel like the 4M gang is cursed. lol I hope the injury to your good arm isn’t as a bad as you fear. The last several days have been wild here. I’ll go into more details in tomorrow’s post.

    Let me say this theme totally rocks! It’s going to be great fun to see what others come up with this one. Your ‘unusual’ choice is amazing and who knew there were this many songs that used cowbells. The first one to come to mind other than your selection is ‘American Band’ by Grand Funk Railroad. 🙂 I can’t wait to listen to your playlist next week!

    Take it easy, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cathy. Thanks for stopping by and rocking with me.
      It’s cool to discover what songs people think of first when thinking cowbell. Grand Funk’s “We’re an American Band” is definitely included in my playlist. No way I could leave that classic out!
      Like you, I was surprised just how many of my favorite songs from my best decade used the cowbell! I wonder if that was a 70s thing??

      Hope you’ve been enjoying your daughter and her new daughter. I forgot to ask in my other comment at your place: is this your first grandchild? Forgive me, I can’t remember (old age, remember??) :]

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Driller! It certainly was fun to discover just how many of my favorite songs from my favorite decade utilized cowbells in these classic hits! Since I’m spend most of my time stuck in the 70s I don’t know if current bands use the cowbell as much as their predecessors??
      Hope you’re enjoying your weekend…
      Thanks for coming by.


    • Thanks for stopping by! That SNL sketch is why I think of Blue Oyster Cult first when I think of the cowbell. Crazy how many of my favorite songs use cowbells though so that was fun to discover.
      Hope you’re enjoying your weekend…


    • Thanks Patrick. I appreciate the well-wishes. I won’t know until this coming friday if there is a rotator cuff tear or not…but I’m thinking not. At least staying positive.
      I had the MRI on Wednesday but there was too much movement and they couldn’t get a clear image so I have to go back this on friday so they can sedate me before the MRI. I don’t get it because I WASN’T MOVING! Twice they did that stupid test and both times they said there was too much movement. How the heck can there be movement when you’re just BREATHING! Good Lord!
      Anyway, at least when I go back, they’ll be giving me some Xanax… 🙂


    • Hey Janet! I’m so glad to have introduced the SNL “More Cowbell” sketch to you! I just wish you could see the whole thing. It used to be online and not too long ago because I saw it. I don’t know why they took it down. But the junior high kids version is a replica of the original…it’s not the same though. And I love Jimmy Fallon: he’s in the back on the drums and you can’t see him that much because of Will Farrell acting a fool… haha
      There’s a video of Jimmy Fallon on his show talking to James Franco about the sketch. I’ll try to find it for you because that’s funny too. And there’s also one with Fallon on the Larry King Live show talking about it.
      Found it. Here it is:

      Thanks for coming by. Hope you’re having a good weekend…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am sorry about your fall. My hubby had shoulder surgery 5 years ago and I recall his PT went on for almost a year. He did get back full range of motion though so keep that in mind when you are suffering through your exercises.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ellen. I’m glad to hear that your husband got his full range of motion back. I don’t think that’s going to be possible with the surgery that I had. I just hope my other shoulder heals and it’s not a tear because having BOTH shoulders messed up is not fun. I have to use tools to do everything now: I have to use a cane to close the trunk on the car or my SUV, I have to use a cane to switch the water to come out of the shower head, I have to use a tool I made with PVC pipe to push my arm up to get things in or out of the microwave (although that ends up in disaster sometimes), etc… I need ONE good shoulder! Please God! Aarrrgh….
      Your husband is very fortunate. I know several folks who have never regained full ROM.
      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed my playlist here. Some of my very favorite songs that take me back to my good ol’ days….I like sharing them. 🙂


  4. Sorry to hear about the injury. Sure hope it isn’t a tear. Is your momma there helping you out? If not, maybe look into getting a microwave that sits on the counter vs the one above the stove. That way you wont be reaching up for your food. You can get a pretty inexpensive one at Walmart (less than $100) Hopefully they’ve got you on some good drugs while they are figuring it all out.

    Looking forward to the next part of your series. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. Hope you liked the playlist I put together for this one. I would assume you do cuz you’re a rock chick like me…
      Cowbells rule! 🙂


  5. Tough luck, kid, about your fall. Sorry, I was just watching a gangster show.

    Cowbells in music go way back and appear in so many songs. I think it’s a very cool effect when used effectively. You came up with a very extensive list, but I’m sure there has to be a lot more.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lee.
      Oh there are TONS more songs utilizing the cowbell. I had no idea there were sooo many!

      Thanks for coming by.
      PS: You did sound a bit like Humphrey…Or maybe it was Eddie G. Robinson…
      🙂 I love those old B&W gangster flicks. especially the film noir ones… Which one were you watching?? Do you have a favorite?


      • I watch so many of those old films on TCM that I can’t recall exactly which I was watching at that time. So many great films though.

        I saw a very interesting one the other night. The Walking Dead(1936) with Boris Karloff. It was a combination horror/scifi with a gangster theme. They made some interesting films back then.

        Arlee Bird
        Tossing It Out

        Liked by 1 person

        • So psyched that you told me about the 1936 Walking Dead/Boris Karloff film! I saw a few clips on YouTube and am dying to see it…no pun intended. 🙂 Looks like a good flick for sure…


  6. Hi Michele; I’m so sorry you’re hurting and hope your shoulder is feeling a little better in the meantime. That truly does suck! 😦 The “More Cowbell” sketch is a hoot and I remember it well. Love your playlist! Please, take good care of yourself and no more accidents. Wishing you speedy healing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Debbie! The shoulder is feeling a bit better now: not near as much pain but it’s still painful so icing as much as possible. The first MRI didn’t work so I have to go back on Friday to do one while under sedation. Joy joy… But since it has started to feel better and I can extend it farther, I’m thinking that perhaps there isn’t a tear and maybe it’s just a deep contusion or something. God I hope so. I don’t know how calm I’ll be able to stay if both my shoulders end up being permanently effed up. It’s crazy just how much one uses their shoulder!

      Glad you liked the playlist. I love all these songs, especially the first several… It’s OUR era, huh? When rock was rock!…
      How’s the weather up there?? My brother has been telling me that it’s been pretty chilly of late….


  7. Oh, that black cloud! Michelle, I hope you are doing better. My husband took a fall in October of 2017 with torn rotator cuffs on both shoulders, and I can really sympathize with you because of him. If only someone could create something that would allow us to wear instant airbags – that person should win a Nobel Prize. As for your playlist, which is awesome, I so love too many of these songs to find a favorite – but it might just be the Head East song. And, I echo your other blogging friends: wishing you speedy healing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Alana! Oh, I can’t imagine your husband tearing both rotator cuffs at the same time! He must’ve been absolutely MISERABLE! Did he have surgery on both? How is his range of motion now? I’ve had so many orthopedic issues — both knees replaced (had both done at the same time, back in 2010), triple arthrodesis surgeries on both feet and two ankle fusions on one of them (neither of which fused so I’m left with an unfused ankle that is only being held together with scar tissue); one of my thumb joints had to be rebuilt and most recently (april 2018) had shoulder reconstruction on the left one. Osteoarthritis is horrible! But of all the issues and surgeries I’ve had, involving all of my limbs, the shoulder is absolutely the worst in terms of healing and physical therapy.

      Girl, I think you need to think about inventing those airbags for us clumsy folks! i’d buy them! 🙂

      So glad you liked my playlist. The first several songs are my ultimate favorites and Head East is definitely one of them.
      “See” you tomorrow…
      Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday. I hope your husband’s shoulders have healed and that he has full range of motion in both…


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