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I Am A Cow

I’ve always maintained that “I Am A Cow” (1979) is the very first song I ever wrote, but that might not be accurate, as it was contemporary with the song “Chop Up Your Grandma,” which had lyrics as follows:

I’m gonna chop up your grandma
Da-na-na-na-na
I’m gonna put her in a microwave oven
I’m going to serve her up as a SOU-fflé
I’m going to put her on the menu for ten people
She’s gonna be today’s special
Da-na-na-na-na
[Spoken:]  Today’s special – new Grandma Stew. Just liked Grandma used to make.

Actually, the origin of “Chop Up Your Grandma” is itself in question, as the initial two lines originated with Foodleking, and the reference to the ten servings provided by Grandma came, I believe, from My Esteemed Colleague. I’m not sure if either party knew that I appropriated their pieces to compose the rest. Maybe I stole the whole thing. I doubt I can specifically recall who had a hand in what.  Perhaps the squabble over royalties is the reason the song has never been recorded.

“I Am A Cow” has no such confusion, as it was composed in real time – that is to say, it’s about a two-and-a-half minute song, and it took less time than that to actually put it together. It was a response to a challenge from a girl named Amber, who had written a song that had the lyrics “stinky butt” in it.

She dared me to do better.

Granted, “stinky butt” sets the bar pretty high, but at that moment in the winter of 1979, I retired to the bathroom at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre for a brief moment of urination and/or composition. The result?” I Am A Cow. “

My Esteemed Colleague participated in the composition, too, and, perhaps, he was even in the bathroom at the same time.  (Coincidence? YES!) I believe he was the one who came up with the “Doo doo doo doo” refrain, and, given the geography of the song’s creation, you can’t really blame him.

Behold the lyrics:

FIRST VERSE: I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)

SECOND VERSE: I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)

BRIDGE: When you’re a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
You don’t meow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
You don’t bow-wow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
You moo, like a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)

THIRD VERSE: I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
I am a cow
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
How now…
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)
…green cow!
(Doo doo doo doo – doo doo doo doo)

The song, unlike the snippet of punk rock parody that is “Chop Up Your Grandma,” is a fully realized song with a classic AABA structure and a melodic bridge.  It‘s a simple melody that has held up well over time. It’s unpretentious and profound, especially if you’re a cow.

The bit that still rankles me is that last line about “How now, green cow.” I thought, at age 11, that changing “How now, brown cow” to “How now, green cow” was funny, because, you know, the cow was green.  It no longer strikes me as funny, but I refuse to change it for sentimental reasons.

The recording of “I Am A Cow” took place sometime in 2005, when I was fiddling around with this new MBox that my wife gave me for Christmas. That’s my son Corbin, then age 4, giggling in the background.

Take a listen…

Is the American Musical Dead?
Color Your Dreams

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