More cowbell? Turns out (Don't Fear) The Reaper just needed more Music Box

Music box paper
(Image credit: Andy Riley/Twitter)

Author, musician and comedian Andy Riley - best known for the best-selling cartoon books The Book of Bunny Suicides , Great Lies To Tell Small Kids, D.I.Y. Dentistry and Beer Makes Daddy Strong - has astonished much of Twitter with a new version of Blue Oyster Cult's 1976 classic (Don't Fear) The Reaper.

Riley's revolutionary arrangement of Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's tale of eternal love and death's infernal cruelty dispenses with the usual guitar/keyboards/bass/drums configuration, and instead re-arranges the tune to be played on a child's music box. And instead of cowbell, there's the high-pitched, slightly sinister plinky-plonk of the hand-cranked toy as the punched paper feeds through the music box's mechanism.

"I love this!" says Twitter commenter Su Warren. "The song will always remind me of my youngest's birth - emergency c-sec, surgeon had the local radio station on, this played at the start of it all. (The only other song I noticed was Size Of A Cow by The Wonderstuff, at the end, if you'd take a request)"

Over in the French corner, Tweeter mariehélène commented, "Sans le savoir, tu touches mon coeur. Je suis amoureuse du son des boîtes à musique depuis l'enfance ! Ça me rappelle bien des souvenirs personnels. C'est magique ! Je t'adore." Which translates as, "Without knowing it, you touch my heart. I have been in love with the sound of music boxes since childhood! It reminds me of personal memories. It is magic! I love you!"     

On the subject of requests, Riley says, "I'm open to suggestions! But can't promise anything, not least because the music box has no sharps or flats so many tunes impossible. Also it takes three hours."

Hours well spent, we say. Please continue. 

Andy Riley's spoken word/music/comedy album Best Holiday Ever is available now.


Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.