Top 100 Cowbell Songs of All Time

May 4, 2010 | Lists,Music

There are three musical instruments that require no ability whatsoever (if you’re an avid watcher of early episodes of American Idol, you’d be forgiven for thinking the vocal instrument is one of these as you can hear sounds resembling the later rounds of a warehouse dog-fight). These include the triangle, which can be mastered if you’ve already gotten counting to ten down pat, the harmonica, the instrument of choice if you’re doing hard-time that only requires wheezing into it like a CPAP machine and of course, the cowbell.

A decade ago, SNL popularized the phrase ‘More cowbell’ with an excellent sketch featuring Christopher Walken.

To commemorate this outstanding achievement in popular culture, we decided to honor one of Switzerland’s three major contributions to global culture (the others being fondue and shady banking) and give this maligned instrument its due in this our in no way definitive list of what we consider to be the Top 100 Cowbell Songs of All Time.

1. Low Rider / War

2. Stone Free / Jimi Hendrix

3. Mississippi Queen / Mountain

4. Drive My Car / Beatles

5. Nightrain / Guns ‘n’ Roses

6. Diamond Dogs / David Bowie

7. Stuck in the Middle with You / Stealer’s Wheel

8. Play that Funky Music / Wild Cherry

9. All Right Now / Free

10. Don’t Fear the Reaper / Blue Oyster Cult

11. Born on the Bayou / CCR

12. We’re an American Band / Grand Funk

13. Little Sister / Queens of the Stone Age

14. Live Wire / Motley Crue

15. A Passage to Bangkok / Rush

16. Down on the Corner / CCR

17. Calling Dr Love / Kiss

18. Honky Tonk Women / Rolling Stones

19. Backstabbers / O’Jays

20. One Nation Under a Groove / Parliament Funkadelic

21. Oye Como Va / Carlos Santana

22. Rappers Delight / Sugerhill Gang

23. Moby Dick / Led Zeppelin

24. Good Times Bad Times / Led Zeppelin

25. Pigs / Pink Floyd

26. Funk 49 / James Gang

27. Spoonman / Soundgarden

28. Don’t Stop til you Get Enough / Michael Jackson

29. Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet / Hey You BTO

30. Touch of Grey / Grateful Dead

31. Brass in Pocket / Pretenders

32. 99 Problems / Jay-Z

33. Big Pimpin’ / Jay-Z

34. Free Ride / Edgar Winter

35. Rock of Ages / Def Leppard

36. Photograph / Def Leppard

37. Hey Ladies / Beastie Boys

38. Hair of the Dog  / Nazareth

39. Killing in the Name of / Rage Against the Machine

40. Faint of Heart / Coheed and Cambria

41. Casino Queen / Wilco

42. Groove is in the Heart / D-Lite

43. Life’s Been Good / Joe Walsh

44. Love Rollercoaster / Ohio Players

45. Vicious / Lou Reed

46. Wiser Time  / Black Crowes

47. Freddie’s Dead / Curtis Mayfield

48. Suzie Q  / Dale Hawkins

49. Clampdown / The Clash

50. Love Removal Machine / The Cult

51. Psychotic Reaction / Count Five

52. Walk this Way / Aerosmith

53. Mr Browstone / GNR

54. Raw Power / Iggy and the Stooges

55. Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite / KISS

56. Roxanne / The Police

57. King of Rock / Run DMC

58. Funky Cold Medina / Tone Loc

59. For Your Love / The Yardbirds

60. Hard Day’s Night / The Beatles

61. Gimme Three Steps / Lynyrd Skynyrd

62. Spinning Wheel / Blood, Sweat & Tears

63. Time has Come Today / Chambers Brothers

64. Born to Run / Bruce Springsteen

65. Breakin’ the Law / Judas Priest

66. Rock Lobster / B 52s

67. The Distance / Cake

68. Taxman / The Beatles

69. The Reflex / Duran Duran

70. Once in a Lifetime / Talking Heads

71. I Predict a Riot / Kaiser Chiefs

72. Last Child / Aerosmith

73. Jive Talkin’ / Bee Gees

74. Leave your Hat On / Joe Cocker

75. Go your Own Way / Fleetwood Mac

76. Bungle in the Jungle / Jethro Tull

77. Purple Haze / Jimi Hendrix

78. Cherry Bomb / John Mellancamp

79. My Sharona / The Knack

80. Keep Yourself Alive / Queen

81. Pets / Porno for Pyros

82. Dance to the Music / Sly & the Family Stone

83. In the Mood / Rush

84. Evil Ways / Santana

85. You Wreck Me / Tom Petty

86. Jammin’ Me / Tom Petty

87. Sweet Jane / Velvet Underground

88.  Gimme Some Lovin’ / Spencer Davis Group

89. Steal my Kisses / Ben Harper

90. Gold Dust Woman / Fleetwood Mac

91. Keep your Hands to Yourself / Georgia Satellites

92. Pastime Paradise / Stevie Wonder

93. Jamming / Bob Marley

94. A Little Less Conversation / Elvis

95. Can’t Get Enough of your Love / Barry White

96. Short Skirt Long Jacket / Cake

97. Welcome to the Jungle / GNR

98. Do it Again / Steely Dan

99. Dance the Night Away / Van Halen

100. Red Morning Light / I Want You Kings of Leon

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60 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Goin’ to the Hop – Joan Armatrading

  2. Be sure to visit Never has an instrument been loved by music audiences more and used so little! When you need that little something extra, the cowbell comes storming in and gives you what you want – no, better yet, what you need.

  3. What about Linda Ronstadt’s “poor poor pitiful me?” Great cowbell!

  4. Drive My Car – The Beatles? What cowbell?

    This list is lame. Where is the classic cowbell song of all time: At The Club, by The Drifters?

  5. Ernie:
    The cowbell in Drive my Car appears at the 6 second mark and continues loudly and prominently for the duration of the song. If you cannot even detect that, we cannot take you, nor your tin ear seriously. Thanks for reading.

  6. Little Darlin’ –The Diamonds
    Cowbell and castanets, woohoo!

  7. What about Hey Joe by The Byrds??

  8. There are several songs on there that definitely do NOT feature any cowbell, such as “Brass In Pocket” and “Pyschotic Reaction.” When I first saw this article I though, “How are they going to come up with 100 songs that feature cowbell?” The answer is, you DIDN’T.

    • I came up with 2100+!

      P.S.–“Brass in Pocket” does have cowbell during the “Gonna use my arms / Gonna use my legs” part.

      • I can’t hear any cowbell in “Brass in Pocket,” either. Including the “Gonna use my arms, etc…” part

  9. Hitchcock Railway – Joe Cocker, best cowbell EVER!!

  10. Whiskey Train by Procol Harum

  11. “Silver Lining” by Player. Not very well known, but I love it and the cowbell intro makes me giggle. Then the song gets into full gear.

  12. Naz Nomad,

    Brass In Pocket does have cowbell.
    It starts in this video on 0:50 on the 2 and 4 and a few measures later on 1,2,3,4.

  13. You’re on drugs if you think playing the harmonica is easy like the triangle or cowbell. There’s a difference between making noise and playing the instrument. For the triangle and cowbell, noise and playing are synonymous. Harmonica not so much

  14. “Concrete and Clay” by Unit 4+2 – Great cowbell intro!

  15. I Call Your Name by the Beatles. Really prominent cowbell kicks in halfway through the first verse and never lets up.

  16. Where’s Darlington County, by the Boss, a much better choice than BTR……..

  17. I didn’t see ‘Couldn’t get it right’ by the Climax Blues Band in there. But I might have missed it, what with all the pure awesome in that list! Thanks!

  18. Sorry no cowbell in Porno For Pyro “Pets” You can even see the drum kit. It’s not COWBELL!

  19. When i read the title..100 greatest Cowbell Songs, this song immediately came to mind:


    What a classic!!!

  20. You forgot “Like You Do” by REO Speedwagon and “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East — but other than that, the list is pretty good.

  21. good effort. What about the disco classic KC & The Sunshine Band Get Down Tonight? Shake your Booty might have a tap or two as well.

  22. No cows were harmed in the forming of this list.

  23. Free World by Jesse Johnson

    • Freak a Holic by Egyptian Lover

  24. More, More More – Andrea True Connection & Steal My Sunshine – Len. Same cowbell.

  25. Thanks for your effort and great list. Here are some more:

    – Pink: U And Ur Hand
    – RHCP: Adventures Of Raindance Maggie
    – Fleetwood Mac: The Chain
    – Fleetwood Mac: Gold Dust Woman

    Ride on!

  26. Drop Dead Legs by Van Halen


    Strutter by the Donnas (Kiss cover)

  27. how about black sabbath’s 1. megalomania 2. rock’n’roll doctor

  28. “Pets” isn’t a cowbell– you’re hearing the resonance on the snare….

  29. I think you forgot a real big hit by a little band called Cinderella. how could you not include SHAKE ME

  30. Where’s Funky town and Black and white?

  31. “Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy
    How come everyone missed this classic?

  32. U gotta add the Cowboy Junkies’ Anniversary Song to the list.

  33. What? No Honky Tonk Woman?

  34. How about The Rapper by Jaggerz? It’s chewey too!

  35. I’m deeply offended that La Flavour – Mandolay isn’t on this list. Best cowbell ever.

  36. What? No Chicago? Oh, Danny boy! Danny Seraphin wielded a mighty cowbell. My favorite Chicago cowbell classic is “Lowdown.” Back later with my top ten.

  37. “Crucify” by Tori Amos has a cowbell put to good use in the chorus. Really should have been on the list! (We need more “Crucify”!…)

  38. Great list. Have to add my 2 cents, the song ‘If You Don’t Love Me I’ll Kill Myself’ by Pete Droge is a cowbell-fest.

  39. I think Couldn’t get it right by Climax Blues Band should’ve made the list.

    • Because there’s cowbell nonstop from start to finish!

  40. Second chance – Peter Bjorn and John.

  41. Blue Tile Fever- Fu Manchu

  42. How did you get away with out mentioning “come on and dance” by motley Crüe? By far, one of the coolest cowbell songs

    • Indeed, most bad-ass sounding cowbell ever on “Come on and Dance”.
      And I also really missed “We’re not gonna take it” from Twisted Sister. The intro STARTS with a cowbell/drums only for cryin’ out loud!

  43. Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it up!

  44. Burning Love-Elvis Coconut-Nilsson Don’t Let The Blues Get You Down-BTO Drop Your Guns-April Wine Jungle Love-Steve Miller Little Willy-Sweet The Rapper-Jaggerz Apologies if some are already on the list

  45. Greetings mate, I’m a house producer your article was impressive, it really heleped me. I hope my mixcloud track will be better after reading this.Kind regards!

  46. Walk the Dinosaur by Was (Not Was) featured the cowbell. Another one was the extended version of “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franlkin.

  47. No Tito Puente?

  48. Try La Lupe singing “El Carbonero”.

  49. What about Knockin on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan?

  50. All I know is when “You Can’t Do That” by The Beatles came out, every drummer out there HAD to have a cowbell mounted on his kick drum.

  51. Salt N Pepa “Push it”
    I dispute Drive My Car by the Beatles as well, yes it’s cow bell but it’s not good cow bell, so shouldn’t be in the top.

  52. How about Trapeze’s “Black cloud”?

  53. Danko Jones – Do you wanna rock

  54. One I would add to the list is “The Refugee” by U2. One of the coolest cowbell intros ever, as well as throughout the rest of the song!

  55. “Do Ya” by The Move!

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