Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sound Up

A friend writes:

It's the 40th anniversary of the wonderful instrumental "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams, the best guitar piece that's ever been written in my humble opinion. "Classical Gas" won three grammys in 1968; for - Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Performance and Best Instrumental/Orchestra Arrangement. I'm sure most of you have heard of, or remember the song. What you may not know, is that Mason Williams was the head comedy writer for the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", the show that CBS snatched off tv in 1969 for being too controversial. It used to be one of my favorite shows, but I had no idea at the time that Mason Williams was the head writer.

Well, actually, I did know that Mason was one of the writers. He recorded several musical albums which tended to try to be funny, although they had a cerebral humor that did not run with the same crowd that was laughing at Bill Cosby at the time. My Brother and I were facing the draft, Vietnam, and other issues of the day in which a thoughtful person had to realize that entire governments could go mentally ill.

You know...Like say...Now, for instance. Here is Mason Williams on the Smothers Brothers with "Classical Gas"

A virtuoso guitarist who has decided to leave Australia and spend a lot of time in East Tennessee, Tommy Emanuel, does a defferent version that pays homage to Mason Williams. You won't really notice that there is no orchestra on this one. Emanuel doesn't really show off on this version, but he gets lively enough. If you've seen him in person you know what I mean.

It is somehow fitting that the Smothers Brothers Show pops up on the radar screen after Tommy Smothers was recognized at the Emmies this week. His speech should be required viewing and a subject for discussion. In so few words, Tommy Smothers challenges us to change America back into itself. (Thanks to Terri for the alert)




  1. Anonymous10:04 AM


    Thanks for this post!...I've always been a Mason Williams fan too!....have a couple of LPs....still great to listen to "The Prince's Panties"....and "Cowboy Buckaroo"...

  2. Great piece of music, makes me want to unplug the electric and dust off my nylon strings!