Music of Cowboy Bebop

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The Cowboy Bebop anime series was accompanied by a number of soundtrack albums composed by Yoko Kanno and Seatbelts, a diverse band Kanno formed specifically to create the music for the series, with a principal focus in jazz. The recordings were an international effort with many names attached, including that of recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.[1]

Theme songs[edit]

Tank![edit]

"Tank!" is the opening song for the popular anime series Cowboy Bebop. The song, written by Yoko Kanno and performed by Seatbelts, has an extensive alto saxophone solo played by Masato Honda, as well as a fill part at the end. The song is a big band jazz piece in a Latin infused hard bop style with a rhythm portion that combines a double bass and bongo drums.

"Tank!" is primarily an instrumental piece, though it does feature some spoken male vocals (provided by long-time collaborator with Kanno, Tim Jensen) in the introductory portion of the song, thematically jazz in style. The vocal portion provides a lead-in to the instrumental portion, and its final lyrics, "I think it's time to blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. Ok, three, two, one let's jam," signal the beginning bursts of the majority, purely instrumental end of the song.

It has been featured on the soundtracks to the series and as the original opening theme it is somewhat iconic, one of several popular pieces which are still closely associated with the Bebop series. It has also been occasionally used as background music for some international commercials, such as a preview for My Own Worst Enemy.[citation needed]

A piano cover of "Tank!" appears on GAME, the debut charity album of Piano Squall.[citation needed]

The Real Folk Blues[edit]

"The Real Folk Blues" is the first ending theme for Cowboy Bebop. The song was performed by Seatbelts, featuring vocals by Mai Yamane. The song was composed and arranged by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Yuho Iwasato. The track appears on the series-related album Cowboy Bebop Vitaminless (カウボーイビバップ ビタミンレス Kaubōi Bibappu Bitaminresu?). The song is one of few songs in the series to be sung in Japanese.

The song is not used for the end credits in "Jupiter Jazz, Pt. II" and the finale "The Real Folk Blues". However, an alternate version of the song entitled "See You Space Cowboy..." plays during the final episode as the prelude to the climax. It appears on the Cowboy Bebop: Blue album as a bonus track.

Studio recordings[edit]

Cowboy Bebop[edit]

Cowboy Bebop
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released May 21, 1998
Recorded Victor Studio
Z'd Studio
Sound Valley Studio
Van Gelder Studio
Plus XXXstudio
Soundtrack Studio[2]
Genre Bebop
Length 53:25
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop is the first album created for the series, and the most easily categorized in terms of genre, as an outlet for many of the trademark bebop tracks. It begins with the show's theme song, Tank!. The track Bad Dog No Biscuits opens with a cover of the Tom Waits composition Midtown before diverting wildly in its interpretation.

The album received a 5/5 rating from Allmusic.[3]

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "Tank!"       3:30
2. "Rush"       3:34
3. "Spokey Dokey"       4:04
4. "Bad Dog No Biscuits"       4:09
5. "Cat Blues"       2:35
6. "Cosmos"       1:36
7. "Space Lion"       7:10
8. "Waltz for Zizi"       3:29
9. "Piano Black"       2:47
10. "Pot City"       2:14
11. "Too Good Too Bad"       2:34
12. "Car24"       2:49
13. "The Egg And I"       2:42
14. "Felt Tip Pen"       2:39
15. "Rain"   Tim Jensen Steve Conte 3:23
16. "Digging My Potato"       2:24
17. "Memory" (Music box overdubbed)     1:31
Total length:
53:25


Cowboy Bebop Vitaminless[edit]

Cowboy Bebop Vitaminless
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released June 3, 1998
Length 28:27
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop Vitaminless (カウボーイビバップ ビタミンレス Kaubōi Bibappu Bitaminresu?) is the first mini-album. It features the end credits theme from the series, The Real Folk Blues.

Like many other commonly revisited motifs in the soundtracks, the track Spy is an alternative approach to You Make Me Cool, which appears on the No Disc album.

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "The Real Folk Blues"   Yuho Iwasato Mai Yamane 6:16
2. "Odd Ones"       3:09
3. "Doggy Dog"       3:14
4. "Cats on Mars"   Gabriela Robin Gabriela Robin 2:44
5. "Spy"       2:01
6. "Fantaisie Sign"   Carla Vallet Carla Vallet 4:57
7. "Piano Bar I"       3:04
8. "Black Coffee" (Bonus Track)     3:14
Total length:
28:27


Cowboy Bebop No Disc[edit]

Cowboy Bebop No Disc
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released October 21, 1998
Recorded Victor Studio
Z'd Studio
SoundCityStudio
Van Gelder Studio
Plus XXXstudio[1]
Length 50:23
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop No Disc (カウボーイビバップ ノーディスク Kaubōi Bibappu No Disuku?) is the second soundtrack album, which shows off a demanding stylistic variety unseen in its predecessor, incorporating bluegrassy banjo, heavy metal, Japanese pop, lounge, swing, chorale, and scat-singing among other styles, as well as the usual blues and jazz pieces.

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "American Money"       1:07
2. "Fantaisie Sign"   Carla Vallet Carla Vallet 5:19
3. "Don't Bother None"   Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 3:39
4. "Vitamin A"       0:10
5. "Live in Baghdad"   Gabriela Robin Masaaki Endoh 3:22
6. "Cats on Mars"   Gabriela Robin Gabriela Robin 2:44
7. "Want It All Back"   Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 4:10
8. "Bindy"       2:18
9. "You Make Me Cool"   Brian Richy Masayoshi Furukawa 3:11
10. "Vitamin B"       0:08
11. "Green Bird"   Gabriela Robin Gabriela Robin 1:53
12. "Elm"     Pierre Bensusan 5:04
13. "Vitamin C"       0:06
14. "Gateway"       2:58
15. "The Singing Sea"   Chris Mosdell Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch 4:39
16. "The Egg and You"       3:42
17. "Forever Broke"       3:14
18. "Power of Kung Food Remix" (Arranged by DJ Food)     5:28
Total length:
50:23


Cowboy Bebop Blue[edit]

Cowboy Bebop Blue
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released May 1, 1999
Length 71:18
Label Victor Entertainment

Cowboy Bebop Blue is the third soundtrack album, featuring many vocal pieces, including a setting of the Ave Maria text, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Anthony Inglis.[4]

It was released on May 1, 1999. Regarding the album, Allmusic wrote, "Of the more than ten discs released in conjunction with Cowboy Bebop, Blue is undoubtedly the best, representing the widest variety of genres."[5]

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "Blue"   Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 5:01
2. "Words That We Couldn't Say"   Tim Jensen Steve Conte 3:27
3. "Autumn in Ganymede"       3:54
4. "Mushroom Hunting" (Based on a track by DJ Food, who performed Power of Kung Food Remix on the No Disc album.)   Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch 3:18
5. "Go Go Cactus Man"       2:37
6. "Chicken Bone"   Gabriela Robin Sydney and Sister R 4:55
7. "The Real Man"       4:00
8. "N.Y. Rush"       5:03
9. "Adieu"   Brian Richy Emily Bindiger 5:39
10. "Call Me Call Me"   Tim Jensen Steve Conte 4:42
11. "Ave Maria"     Jerzy Knetig 5:47
12. "Stella by Moor"       1:08
13. "Flying Teapot"   Tomoko Tane Emily Bindiger 3:32
14. "Wo Qui Non Coin"   Gabriela Robin Aoi Tada 3:41
15. "Road to the West"       2:52
16. "Farewell Blues"       5:12
17. "See You Space Cowboy... (Not Final Mix Mountain Root)" (Hidden track. An alternative rendition of The Real Folk Blues.)   Mai Yamane 5:55
Total length:
71:18


Ask DNA[edit]

"Ask DNA"
Single by Seatbelts
Released July 5, 2001 (2001-07-05)
Length 18:37
Label Victor Entertainment

Ask DNA is a maxi single released in 2001, an accompaniment to Cowboy Bebop Future Blues. It consists of a few highlights from Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, including the title theme, "Ask DNA", a song which is more pop-oriented than anything else performed by the band.

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "What Planet Is This?"       2:45
2. "Ask DNA"   Tim Jensen Raj Ramayya 4:52
3. "Cosmic Dare (Pretty with a Pistol)"   Raj Ramayya Reynada Hill 4:28
4. "Hamduche"   Hassan Bohmide Hassan Bohmide 1:54
5. "Is It Real?"   Tim Jensen Scott Matthew 4:40
Total length:
18:37


Future Blues[edit]

Future Blues
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released August 29, 2001
Recorded Victor Studio
Soundcity Studio
Crescente
Soundtrack Studio
Riversound Studio[6]
Length 71:11
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Future Blues is the main soundtrack from Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. It explores additional styles even further, such as country-western and Arabic music.

The song 3.14 features Aoi Tada reciting the first 53 digits of pi to a tune.

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "24 Hours Open"       3:21
2. "Pushing the Sky"   Jinghiskhanman [7][8] Mai Yamane 4:07
3. "Time To Know ~ Be Waltz"     Hideyuki Takahashi 3:49
4. "Clutch"       5:15
5. "Musawe"     Hassan Bohmide 3:28
6. "Yo Pumpkin Head"       4:04
7. "Diggin'" (Guitar: Kiyoshi Tuchiya) Tim Jensen Steve Conte 5:05
8. "3.14"   Yoko Kanno [9][10] Aoi Tada 1:37
9. "What Planet Is This?!" (Extended Version)   Mai Yamane, Mayu Jensen, Tim Jensen, Mataro Misawa (backing vocals) 4:31
10. "7 Minutes"       6:46
11. "Fingers"       4:24
12. "Powder"       1:30
13. "Butterfly"   Chris Mosdell Mem Nahadr 4:57
14. "No Reply"   Tim Jensen [11][12] Steve Conte 5:59
15. "Dijurido"     Gabriela Robin 1:55
16. "Gotta Knock a Little Harder"   Tim Jensen[13] Mai Yamane 5:19
17. "No Money"     Hassan Bohmide 1:06
18. "Rain" (Bonus Track, Mai Yamane Version) Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 3:23
Total length:
71:11


Cowboy Bebop Tank! THE! BEST![edit]

Cowboy Bebop Tank! THE! BEST!
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released December 22, 2004
Length 51:59
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop Tank! THE! BEST! compiles previously released material, mostly vocal pieces, with three all-new songs written for the 2005 PlayStation 2 game Cowboy Bebop: Tsuioku no Serenade, featuring the vocals of Ilaria Graziano. The first pressing of the CD included a bonus sticker.[citation needed] These songs were the last new material released by Seatbelts.

Track Listing
No. Title Lyrics Artist Length
1. "Tank! (TV stretch)"       3:30
2. "What Planet Is This?!"       3:31
3. "Cosmic Dare (Pretty with a Pistol)"   Raj Ramayya Reynada Hill 4:29
4. "Diamonds"     Ilaria Graziano 4:01
5. "Don't Bother None (TV edit)"   Tim Jensen   2:55
6. "Piano Black"       2:47
7. "Mushroom Hunting"     Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch 3:19
8. "No Reply"   Tim Jensen Steve Conte 6:01
9. "Blue"   Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 5:04
10. "Einstein Groovin'"   Ilaria Graziano Ilaria Graziano 6:19
11. "Pearls"   Ilaria Graziano Ilaria Graziano 4:44
12. "Gotta Knock a Little Harder"   Tim Jensen Mai Yamane 5:24
Total length:
51:59


Miscellaneous[edit]

Cowboy Bebop Remixes: Music for Freelance[edit]

Cowboy Bebop Remixes: Music for Freelance
Remix album by Seatbelts
Released June 6, 1999
Recorded Various
Genre Jazz, Electronic music
Length 40:27
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop Remixes: Music for Freelance (カウボーイ ビバップ リミキシーズ ミュージック フォー フリーランス Kaubōi Bibappu Rimikishīzu Myūjikku Fō Furīransu?) is a collection of songs remixed by popular American and British DJ's, including many from the popular Ninja Tune label. Mr. Scruff spoke to British magazine Impact of his remix of Cat Blues, telling Andrez Bergen that he chose it "as it was a great, old sounding tune, simple with loads of personality. The parts were so well recorded that it was a pleasure to remix! I chopped it up into a kind of stuttering drumbox jazz wobbler."[14]

The premise of the album is that the CD is a recording of a pirate radio station, and each song is humorously introduced by the DJ, in English. These tracks are called the "Radio Free Mars Talks". They are credited as follows:

Track Listing
No. Title Length
1. "Radio Free Mars Talk 1"   1:13
2. "Tank! (Luke Vibert Remix)"   3:37
3. "Radio Free Mars Talk 2"   0:39
4. "Forever Broke (Fila Brazillia Remix)"   5:23
5. "Radio Free Mars Talk 3"   0:35
6. "Cats on Mars (DMX Krew Remix)"   3:50
7. "Radio Free Mars Talk 4"   0:49
8. "Piano Black (Ian O'Brien Remix)"   6:51
9. "Cat Blues (Mr. Scruff Remix)"   4:50
10. "Radio Free Mars Talk 5"   0:44
11. "Fe (DJ Vadim Remix)"   3:50
12. "Fantaisie Sign (Ian Pooley Remix)"   5:18
13. "Radio Free Mars Talk 6"   0:26
14. "Space Lion (4 Hero Remix)"   6:19
15. "Radio Free Mars Talk 7"   0:23
Total length:
40:27


Cowgirl Ed[edit]

Cowgirl Ed
Soundtrack album by Seatbelts
Released June 21, 2001
Length 18:30
Label Victor Entertainment
Producer Yoko Kanno

Cowgirl Ed is a limited edition Mini-CD. This single came packaged with the first pressing of Future Blues and is currently out of print.

Track Listing
No. Title Length
1. "Goodnight Julia"   1:56
2. "PAPA Plastic"   4:11
3. "Telephone Shopping"   0:18
4. "Kabutoga ni Kodai no Sakana" (The Horseshoe Crab, The Ancient Fish) 3:42
5. "Slipper Sleaze"   3:32
6. "23 Hanashi" (Episode 23) 4:51
Total length:
18:30


Cowboy Bebop Boxed Set[edit]

Cowboy Bebop Boxed Set
Box set by Seatbelts
Released June 21, 2002

The Cowboy Bebop Boxed Set includes four regular size CDs, one bonus Mini CD, and a 52 page booklet (in Japanese). The booklet includes interesting trivia, track listing, interviews, and lyrics. Disks 1, 2 and 3 contain new and previously released tracks from the series, performed by Seatbelts. Disk 4 contains live tracks from Seatbelts on tour, as well as some unreleased movie tracks. The dialogue tracks are not songs, rather, they are vocal samples taken directly from the Japanese version of the series. It was released on June 21, 2002, and is now out of production.

The boxed set received an enthusiastic 4/5 review from Allmusic, citing its eclectic blend of genres and an appeal going beyond anime fans to "any adventurous listener", but also mentioned that the spoken dialogue tracks detracted from its accessibility.[15]

The scripts for the dialogue tracks are credited to Shinichiro Watanabe and Dai Sato and the translation was done by Agnes S. Kaku.

Tracks in bold are exclusive to this boxed set.


12" Vinyl Singles[edit]

Accompanying the release of the Cowboy Bebop Remixes: Music for Freelance album and the Ask DNA Maxi-Single were two EP's released on 12-inch vinyl containing a selection of material from the aforementioned albums. Both EP's came in plain white jackets with printed graphics on the record label and played at 33⅓ rpm. Both albums were released independently with Remixes using the catalog number BEBOP 001 and Ask DNA using BEBOP 002.

The first EP, simply dubbed Remixes and released in 1999 contains 5 tracks taken from the Music for Freelance CD. Around the label there are trademarks for Sunrise and Victor Entertainment, followed by a line that reads DJ Promo Only Not For Resale. It is not known how many copies were produced. The track list for the EP is below;

Track Listing
No. Title Length
1. "Side A: Tank! (Luke Vibert Remix)"   3:37
2. "Side A: Cats On Mars (DMX Krew Remix)"   3:50
3. "Side A: Fantasie Sign (Ian Pooley Remix)"   5:18
4. "Side B: Piano Black (Ian O'Brien Remix)"   6:51
5. "Side B: Space Lion (4 Hero Remix)"   6:19
Total length:
24:75


The second EP, dubbed Ask DNA and released in 2001 contains all 5 tracks from the Ask DNA Maxi Single. This EP was released through the Cowboy Bebop Japanese Fanclub as promotional material in limited quantities. It came in a plain white jacket with a sticker on the outside containing the Seatbelts logo and an advertisement for the CD release of Ask DNA. The track list for the EP is below;

Track Listing
No. Title Length
1. "Side A: What Planet Is This?"   2:45
2. "Side A: Cosmic Dare (Pretty with a Pistol)"   4:28
3. "Side A: Hamduche"   1:54
4. "Side B: Is It Real?"   4:40
5. "Side B: Ask DNA"   4:52
Total length:
18:37


See also[edit]

  • Space Bio Charge, a Yoko Kanno compilation album which includes unreleased takes of Cowboy Bebop songs.

References[edit]