Deconstructing the Cowbell (A Meme Exploration)

CLMOOC cowbell

Raise your hand if you know the reference to this meme? As part of our exploration of memes as cultural currency with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I decided to use this particular meme and deconstruct it a bit. And I decided to do it in comic form.


Check out how Google Trends followed the “more cowbell” concept over time:

And also, where the phrase has cache, globally (almost entirely in the United States):

If you want to know more about memes, then you should check out the site — Know your Meme — which provides context for original references and tracks the history of particular memes. Plus, it’s a fascinating history lesson into the digital age of popular culture references, for good and for bad (many memes have racist or mean origins.)

This is just a sampling of the hundreds of variations of this meme at this one site. You can see all sorts of references to businesses, inside jokes, friends and more.
cowbell memes

Over at Meme Generator, you can even set up a Meme Generator, so if you truly want more cowbell, then go make a meme!

clmooc fever

Peace (in the meme),

  1. Anybody would love to have his pirate visage in a comic so thanks to the manx. Last night’s Google Hangout about memes (no link yet to recording) really helped engage with some folk on reflecting on memes from 10,000 feet.

    I think the biggest argument for using memes in the classroom is that they reveal some “unknown knowns”. What is known? That there are connections between and among everybody in class that are hidden. What is unknown? What the connections actually are. Memes can bring those connections to light. And it is humbling to think how many unknown knowns there are in our little classroom universes. Don’t get me started on the unknown unknowns.

    I am so happy you mentioned knowyourmeme. I put it up among my most valued web go-to sites and that includes the Internet Archive. Also, Christopher Walken. How to go wrong with him front and center. So here you go:

  2. A great explanation of memes and one of my favourite ones.
    It’s such a challenge to figure out how to use them, but is really is a great way to reveal knowledge and unexpected connections.

    Know Your Meme is an amazing resource and it’s fascinating to see how memes pop up and evolve over time.

  3. hey Kevin

    I liked this post a lot – you do realize that even the term “cowbell” would have meant absolutely nothing to me had I not attended a live ice hockey game when I was in Houston and the screen kept saying “we need more cowbell” (my husband and I thought it was a Houston thing)!!! Otherwise, I know Christopher Walken was on SNL a lot and can see the posture almost “inviting a meme” … it is a “meme me” pose!!! But I don’t know what else is behind it… not even after reading this post. Was I reading too fast?

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