On my home from the store today I had one of my classic rock CD’s in and Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” came on. This song always brings a smile and a giggle as it reminds me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits ever.
You may know which one I am talking about: The band is in the studio rehearsing the song and Gene Frenkle aka Will Ferrell starts really getting into his part of the song…the cowbell.
The skit begins with what is said to be film from the 1976 recording session that produced the band’s biggest hit, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. Bruce Dickinson, the producer, aka Christopher Walken tells the band they have “what appears to be a dynamite sound.”
The first take of the session begins soon after. The recording seems to be going well but the band stops playing after a few moments 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, “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, gyrating wildly in all directions, and the band stops another take. Dickinson enters the studio exasperated at wasting “two good tracks” and says that the second one “was even better than the first.” Frenkle sheepishly agrees to tone down his performance in order to keep the band happy. Dickinson warns Frenkle not to tone it down too much, as they’re “gonna want the cowbell on this track.” The rest of the band expresses annoyance, but Dickinson is grooving on the cowbell.
Frenkle then makes an impassioned speech to the rest of the band.
He declares that Dickinson’s stature lends a great deal of weight to his opinion about the cowbell part and that the last time 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.”
At the climax of the sketch, Dickinson exclaims: “Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!”
What can we learn from “more cowbell”?
Too often we turn down the volume our own cowbell. Giving yourself permission for ‘more cowbell’ also empowers others to “explore their studio space”.
We all need to be validated and heard. Your circle should include mentors and those you trust to encourage you to use more of your ‘cowbell’.
We do ourselves a disservice by downplaying the sound of our cowbell in the spirit of getting along, not wanting to show off, and not wanting others to be uncomfortable.
I’m here to tell you if you don’t perform the hell out of you are, not only do you cheat yourself, but you deny those who want to hear more cowbell…specifically your cowbell.
Your brand is the cowbell. Know it, embrace it, and perform the hell out of it.
Want a strong brand…add more cowbell baby.
Your music is beautiful…Rock it out Superstar.