At the dinner table last night, my son brings up the SNL “More Cowbell” skit starring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken.My daughter asks “I wonder how they thought up something so weird as the cowbell thing…”
I explained that the Blue Oyster Cult song, “Fear the Reaper,” does, in fact, include a cowbell, which was likely played by the drummer, since it is a percussion instrument.She insists that I am wrong, and I insist that she is…
While I did see BOC at the Sports Arena in 1980 and do not recall seeing a cowbell, we all know it is there. My daughter dashes to the family room, and pops in our CD…And she is right–you can’t really hear it…until you crank it up and toy with the bass. I tell the kids that Ferrell, who wrote the sketch, likely was listening to the song one day, and ‘noticed” the cowbell.
That’s how all creativity (inventio in rhetorical terms) happens–you observe something , wonder, and try to make sense of it. How many times have you heard that song? Did you once think to yourself, “Who the hell thought of putting a cowbell in a rock&roll song? I wonder what the story is behind that? OR wouldn’t it be funny if the cowbell player dominated the recording sessions?” This could be molded into a good example for my students. I spend a fair amount of time helping them recognize and hold on ideas that they would otherwise discard. Often, I end up talking about their ‘observations” or things I noticed that I could transform into a paper. But they are not always convinced…nor are they really convinced when I tell them I noticed something…but when I have examples to show…the chances of reaching them are greater.And incidentally, what I observed about Will Ferrell’s observation is another demonstration of how the kernal of an idea can be developed into, say, a blog?