Shoulda been a hit: “Is It Any Wonder” by The Cowsills (1990)

“‘Global’ is a fine album in the best tradition of power-pop. It does not fall under the epithet and label of ‘bubblegum,’ and does not deserve that rather insulting label and pigeonhole. All songs on the album were written by Bob Cowsill and his wife Mary. The band was originally going to do just an oldies circuit tour in 1990 until they heard what Bob and Mary were writing. They got excited and went right into the studio. On ‘Global’ you’ll hear jangling guitars, pretty edgy rock on several tracks, and very in keeping with the late 80s/early 90s. As you would expect on a Cowsills record, the tight-knit family harmonies are there, intact, and ringing. Guitarist Bob, keyboardist Paul, and drummer John’s vocals are stellar. The surprise to many who haven’t listened in the last thirty years will be Susan Cowsill’s voice. Her vocals today are a cross between Nicolette Larson, Stevie Nicks, and a touch of Emmylou Harris. While she didn’t contribute writing to this record, she has written brilliantly on her solo records. When she was little with the group she was banished to a tambourine, but today she plays guitar both with the Cowsills and in her solo records. She really contributes to the great sound.” –  Solameanie, The Seventh Sola

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Yeah, yeah, those Cowsills. Their mom was part of the band, and they became the template for “The Partridge Family.” Sang the theme song for “Love American Style,” and used to do TV commercials for milk.

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The Cowsills were the first concert I ever went to. I was twelve in the fall of 1968; I recall it was the same day that The Beatles’ single “Hey Jude/Revolution” was released. My dad and mom took me, my cousin, my grandma, and my great-aunt to the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota to see Eddy Arnold in concert. Yes, that Eddy Arnold. The warm-up act? The reason my cousin and I were along? The Cowsills. Yeah, yeah, those Cowsills.

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I remember Eddy starting his set by grinning and saying to the audience, “Loud, aren’t they?” Dozens of people around me turned up their hearing aids once again.

(I was so naïve. I offered to go and buy my Dad a beer from the concession stand. Wisely, he declined.)

Anyway, that was about a year before The Cowsills hit it big with the theme song from the musical “Hair.” I didn’t realize how uncool they were till I told the other junior-high kids about it the next day.

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Jump ahead twenty-two years, and four of the now much cooler and well respected in music circles Cowsills – Bob, Paul, John, and Susan – reunited to record one of the best power-pop albums I’ve ever heard: “Global.” It’s well worth checking out. “Is It Any Wonder” is the showcase song on the album full of showcase songs. Why wasn’t it a hit, or anything else from that album? Because they’re The Cowsills. Yeah, yeah, those Cowsills.

As Solameanie points out in the blog referenced above, The Cowsills are talented musicians who don’t deserve the bashing they took in hipster circles. I still play “The Rain, The Park, And Other Things” and “We Can Fly” on the radio, along with “Is It Any Wonder.”

Soon as she looked my way
All I wanted to do was play
That old love game
Even though I lacked ability to change

Man, I was lonely
And she was all I was looking for
And I thought it was forever
Then she said she was leaving
Yes, she had to go now

She don’t want to love me anymore
She don’t want to be the heart that mine beats for
Is it any wonder?

Well, I had my way
And there was nothing that she could say
Could have change my mind
I guess I was too set in my ways

And though I’m not the first one
To admit when things go wrong
That I never saw it coming
In the end she was everything I ever wanted now

She don’t want to love me anymore
She don’t want to be the heart that mine beats for
Is it any wonder?

I don’t know if I should laugh or cry
What’s the use in it now?
What am I supposed to do without her?
It’s a little too much to ask anybody

If I had a second chance
You know I’d do it all so differently
Oh, but it’s too late to think about
All the could have beens and should have beens
That wasn’t supposed to happen

She don’t want to love me anymore
She don’t want to be the heart that mine beats for
Is it any wonder?

One Comment on “Shoulda been a hit: “Is It Any Wonder” by The Cowsills (1990)”

  1. tamyrad says:

    I never heard that before, its a good song. I guess I was never cool,’ cause I always liked the Cowsills.

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