What could have been more square in the late 1960s than a family band with MOM in it? The Cowsills became a badge for the co-optation of counterculture when they sang the theme song for Hair, and their rep for milky white safeness was cemented forever when The Partridge Family pilfered their schtick pretty much wholesale. But with a few decades elapsed between then and now, I think it’s no longer a betrayal of The Revolution to be OK with them, because ultimately, they just wanted to sing, and bland content or not, they sang very, very well. And while they do shoulder some blame for David Cassidy’s career, at least the Osmonds aren’t their fault.
WHAT THE—okay, maybe they weren’t entirely safe.
Here’s a seasonally timely clip of the Cowsills on The Johnny Cash Show, guesting with Cash on the gospel number “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.” Not only do they admirably hold their own backing up Cash’s rich basso voice, pay attention around 2:09, at which ten-year-old Susan Cowsill peers confidently into the camera and nails a solo verse. This, again, is a ten-year-old kid sitting next to Johnny By God CASH and singing with laudable poise. That talented little kid went on to gain a measure of hip cred playing in Dwight Twilley’s band in the ‘80s, and in The Continental Drifters with The dBs’ Peter Holsapple (her husband for a time). She continues to pursue an active solo career.