Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Episode 200 - The Prescription Is More Cowbell

Well today is my 200th post (actually the 202nd, but since two are no longer available, I’m counting this one as post 200). At the end, I’ll provide some of the data about the visitors to this blog. I was surprised when I pulled down the information, and I think you will be as well. If you’re interested, scroll to the bottom of this post.

With this momentous anniversary, I need to induct you into the Ancient Order of the Cowbell. You can do this at home. Blindfold yourself, place the blade of a butter knife on your right shoulder and repeat after me that mystical chant, “Magis bovis campana; Magis bovis campana; Magis bovis campana.” All may not be worthy, and to those, we must proceed by entering into this covenant with a brief introduction from “The” Bruce Dickinson and a Saturday Night Live skit from April 2000. If you cannot see the video below, click here.

Of the several jokes in this sketch is the name of Christopher Walken's character Bruce Dickinson. While Sandy Pearlman was the official producer of "Don't Fear the Reaper," Bruce Dickinson is an actual Columbia Records employee who was listed as the reissue producer on the band's greatest hits CD. Although Will Ferrell's character the late Gene Frenkle is purely fictional, fans often express sympathy to the real band over his supposed death in 2000.

While I won’t be featuring Blue Oyster Cult, I’ll echo the sentiments of Bruce Dickinson: “I have a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell.” Although long associated with rock music, the cowbell got its start as – well – a bell for cows. It allowed cattle ranchers to track their herds as the distinctive bells clapped as the cows swayed back and forth.

The cowbell entered the realm of music in the 1920s being used as a percussive feature of hillbilly bands. In the 1930s, it was one of the many novelty instruments of jug bands joining the washboard, washtub bass, spoons, and jugs. In the 1940s, Spike Jones and his City Slickers utilized the cowbell and other strange and exotic instrumentation on their numerous novelty recordings.

The clapperless cowbell gained its prominence with salsa music alongside the percussive sounds of claves, timbales, guiro, and congas. While it gained more popularity with rock songs beginning in 1965, an early example of the cowbell was Annette Funicello’s 1959 recording of “Tall Paul.” To celebrate the 200th post, I bring you “more cowbell” with four selections.

Mountain: Mississippi Queen

No Virginia, he doesn’t sing Pittsburgh – it’s Vicksburg as in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Named after large front man Leslie West, Mountain also included former Cream producer Felix Pappalardi and drummer Corky Laing. Laing cowrote their only hit with David Rea and it begins with Laing’s signature cowbell. Mississippi Queen charted at 21 in June 1970.

The Beatles: Drive My Car – Two Versions

Even the Beatles succumbed to the cowbell craze as Ringo Starr added it to the song “Drive My Car.” As an album cut, it originally appeared on most countries’ versions of the LP “Rubber Soul”; however, in North America, it was issued on the contrived Capitol LP “Yesterday and Today.”

I have provided two rehashed versions of "Drive my Car." The first example is my favorite cut from the CD “Love.” This tune combines “Drive My Car” with “What You’re Doing” and “The Word.” It also contains the horns from “Savoy Truffle” from “the White Album” and the lead guitar from “Taxman.” The second cut is from the remastered version of the “Rubber Soul” CD.

Grand Funk Railroad : We’re An American Band

The title cut from the “We’re An American Band” album, Grand Funk originally released this single and album in gold vinyl. This #1 song from 1973 features the cowbell of Don Brewer. Brewer penned the song after Grand Funk and Humble Pie were arguing about which country produced the better musicians. After listing a number of seminal rockers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Fats Domino, Brewer stood up and defended his homeland by uttering, “We’re An American Band.” The next morning he wrote the song.

Free: Wishing Well

I remember buying this single at the Eastland National Record Mart in North Versailles, PA in 1972 without even hearing it – well, because it was Free. I also liked the new label design for Island Records – to match the label art, the sleeve was pink.

“Wishing Well” wasn’t an American hit, as was their previous A&M single “All Right Now,” but it is an excellent rock tune. It was one of three top 10 singles in their native Britain. From their final LP “Heartbreaker,” it features Paul Rodgers on vocals and drummer Simon Kirke on cowbell on the intro and during the choruses.

If you are interested in cowbell, check out Latin Percussion’s Top Ten Cowbells. It allows you to listen to the sounds of the best selling LP cowbells.

Statistical Overview

I began this blog on September 26, 2009, but did not start monitoring the visits until October 16, 2009. Since that time, we have had the following:

Unique Visitors2,431
Times Visited3,251
Number of Pages Viewed5,914
People Visiting 200+ Times230
People Visiting 101-200 Times105
People Visiting 50-100 Times60
People Visiting 26-50 Times50
Number of Visitor Countries Represented70
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines51.89%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites33.34%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access14.76%

Without much promotion and largely based on my own views about music, it really amazes me that so many have found these pages – even once.

The Top Ten Charts

Just as the music industry has a variety of charts (have you looked at Billboard lately?), I have prepared some Top Ten Charts for "Between the Grooves."

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

1United States2,150
2United Kingdom221
10The Netherlands33

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (770) have visited the home page for “Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. These are the top ten pages bypassing the home page entering the site through a specific daily post.

The Top Days by Total Visits

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits and the content that was featured on those particular days.

The Top Days by New Visitors

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits by first time visitors and the content that was featured on those particular days.

Thanks to all who have visited and a special thanks to our repeat visitors.

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