Honky Tonk Women - Cowbell

Peterk256

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,691
Reaction score
332
Location
Goodyear, AZ
Jimmy Miller played the cowbell. Charlie flubbed the beginning but it magically worked. I take exception to any cover band that tells me to play a cowbell on HTW, because Charlie never did, not on the original version nor any live performance. There are plenty of documented references out there regarding this.
 

GeeDeeEmm

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
1,455
Reaction score
1,118
Location
Arkansas
I love playing the cowbell (so shoot me, I guess!), and look forward to using it on HTW, Missippi Queen, American Band, Hold Your Head Up, and any other song where it's appropriate. And audiences love it, too. It's always fun to watch dancers lock into the cowbell lead.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Josh Vibert

Very well Known Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2010
Messages
729
Reaction score
181
Location
Braselton, GA
I had to learn this tune a couple years ago for a cover set. The pattern, tempo, and everything else about the song is all over the place. Pick a pattern and stick with it. The live vids I saw have Mick running around the stage randomly beating the thing, so I figured the studio was the same way.

IMO, it is important to build the independence to keep the cowbell going while playing the backbeat groove. The singer flubs the lyrics, and he also pushes the tempo when he comes in with the guitar but the first minute or so of this gets the point across:

 

jmato

Well-Known Member
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2016
Messages
387
Reaction score
211
Location
Indy
My bands always have a WAG or friend or even a stranger out of the crowd to play the cowbell part at the beginning. We tell them to play, "I want - to **** - you; you want - to **** - me" for the intro (at the correct tempo, which is easily corrected if they mess up once the drums come in). It's crass, yes, but fun for the cowbell player and the few fans we have (ha).
 

Peterk256

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
1,691
Reaction score
332
Location
Goodyear, AZ

Another example of The Stones fortuitous studio happy accidents occurred at the opening of “Honk Tonk Women” as explained by drummer Charlie Watts when he said—“We’ve never played an intro to Honky Tonk Women live the way it is on the record. That’s Jimmy playing the cowbell and either he comes in wrong or I come in wrong – but Keith comes in right, which makes the whole thing right. It’s one of those things that musicologists could sit around analyzing for years. It’s actually a mistake, but from my point of view, it works.” Charlie Watts further discussed Jimmy Miller’s cowbell preamble when he said: “The intro to Honky Tonk Women was like, if you wrote musically that down and played it properly, it wouldn’t have the same thing as the actual take does. But that’s what’s good about being in a band like this, there’s room for things like that.”
 

TheBeachBoy

Ringo Fire
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
8,196
Reaction score
810
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I think typically any percussion was done by either Jimmy or Mick. If it's in time, it's Jimmy. If it's sloppy, like the tambourine in "Time Is on My Side" then it's likely Mick.

I play the cowbell part when we cover it, since that's what's on the record. People like to hear it (and make those obnoxious "more cowbell" jokes) so that's how we play it.
 

p83

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
2,852
Reaction score
963
Location
tacoma,wa,usa
My bands always have a WAG or friend or even a stranger out of the crowd to play the cowbell part at the beginning. We tell them to play, "I want - to **** - you; you want - to **** - me" for the intro (at the correct tempo, which is easily corrected if they mess up once the drums come in). It's crass, yes, but fun for the cowbell player and the few fans we have (ha).
putting an intro in the crowds hands playing a loud percussive instrument? not with a gun to my head!
 

Houndog

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
2,742
Reaction score
1,921
Location
Oklahoma City
putting an intro in the crowds hands playing a loud percussive instrument? not with a gun to my head!

I used to give percussion to a table of ladies at a regular gig I had , you don't know what you are missing sir !!!!
 

jmato

Well-Known Member
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2016
Messages
387
Reaction score
211
Location
Indy
putting an intro in the crowds hands playing a loud percussive instrument? not with a gun to my head!
It works and they love it! Try it!
 

Houndog

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
2,742
Reaction score
1,921
Location
Oklahoma City
I used to give percussion to a table of ladies at a regular gig I had , you don't know what you are missing sir !!!!
For the record I’m not referring to anything
Kinky , they had a blast and they have a blast the fellows have a blast we made great tips , more bookings etc ......
 

CherryClassic

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
2,819
Reaction score
515
Location
Buda, Texas
Yes, the crowd loves it and they will always remember you when they are having fun, even if it is messed up.

Lucky none of my bands play it so I don't have to worry about it. LOL

sherm
 

DaveA

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
612
Reaction score
94
Location
Nashville, TN
I think typically any percussion was done by either Jimmy or Mick. If it's in time, it's Jimmy. If it's sloppy, like the tambourine in "Time Is on My Side" then it's likely Mick.

I play the cowbell part when we cover it, since that's what's on the record. People like to hear it (and make those obnoxious "more cowbell" jokes) so that's how we play it.
I've always found "Time Is On My Side" to be unlistenable because of that out of time tambourine. The sad thing is, it's not even needed on the track - yet it's mixed right up in your face. Terrible.
 

Monty

DFO Master
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
5,093
Reaction score
379
Jimmy Miller played the cowbell. Charlie flubbed the beginning but it magically worked. I take exception to any cover band that tells me to play a cowbell on HTW, because Charlie never did, not on the original version nor any live performance. There are plenty of documented references out there regarding this.
I've jettisoned my cowbell and whenever this song is called for, I do it like The Stones live. Just go into it.
The studio version is all over the place. The tempo picks up in the chorus. Which is fine. Not everything has to be spot on.
 

Ghostin one

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
184
Reaction score
127
Location
Eastern PA
My last band, the leader encouraged me to bring the cowbell for Honky Tonk and a few other songs.

Then he'd start the song without the cowbell anyway.:dontknow:
 

drummer5359

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
1,692
Reaction score
770
Location
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jimmy Miller played the cow bell on that tune as I've understood it.

In my last band I supplied a cow bell and taught our singer the part. Happily, he nailed it. It is a song that we played pretty much note for note. I've been covering that song in bands for about forty-five years. I joke that I've likely played it more times than Charlie has. Actually, it isn't a joke. I think that I likely have.
 

Bob Blackwood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
105
Reaction score
16
Location
Tampa, Florida
I've jettisoned my cowbell and whenever this song is called for, I do it like The Stones live. Just go into it.
The studio version is all over the place. The tempo picks up in the chorus. Which is fine. Not everything has to be spot on.
"Honky Tonk Women" is Exhibit A for song that progressively speeds up - especially during the guitar solo - yet still sounds organically good...
 

TheBeachBoy

Ringo Fire
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
8,196
Reaction score
810
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I've always found "Time Is On My Side" to be unlistenable because of that out of time tambourine. The sad thing is, it's not even needed on the track - yet it's mixed right up in your face. Terrible.
I see it as an extension of the theme. He's got all the time in the world and not a care, just nonchalant. That's how I justify it anyway. Really Mick is just not playing it well.
 


Top