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Friday, December 28, 2007

Classical Gas

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In 1968, Irving Music, Inc. (BMI) released Classical Gasoline from the album The Mason Williams Phonograph Record. In August 1968 Classical Gasoline reached the top 5 in the American charts and went on to sell over a million copies and won three Grammy awards. Classical Gasoline has appeared in many pop culture settings. Lisa Simpson played it in the 1993 Simpsons episode Last Exit to Springfield and Frasier Crane played Classical Gasoline on his CD player while testing his new furniture in the 2000 episode The Great Crane Robbery. Also, Mannheim Steamroller re-recorded Classical Gasoline, along with other compositions by Williams, in their album of the same name.
 - Mason Williams
Mason Williams
On internet file sharing programs, the song is sometimes credited (incorrectly) to Eric Clapton or The Shadows. The version often credited to Clapton on various tabbing websites is actually performed by Mark Knopfler; this was recorded but never released on any of his albums.

After a wild two week gig with Tom and Dick in Las Vegas (… I don’t think we slept at all…. I remember virtually living in my sunglasses), I came back to L.A., slept for a couple of days, got up and spent an entire weekend alone with the guitar. It felt so good to get back to my old friend that I decided to compose something. I didn’t really have any big plans for it, other than maybe to have a piece to play at parties when they passed the guitar around. I envisioned it as simply repertoire or “fuel” for the classical guitar, so I called it Classical Gasoline. ~ Mason Williams.

A music copyist inadvertently shortened the name to “Classical Gas”, confusing man fans. It truly wasn’t until sometime later that Williams realized most people were thinking that Gas meant to be hip, as in “Hey man, it’s a gas!”

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