Song of the Day: “Classical Gas” – Mason Williams

Did you guys know that guitarist Mason Williams was very briefly the head writer on Saturday Night Live? Sure it was 1980, which was literally nobody’s favorite season, but the guy must have some serious comedy chops to even find himself in that situation. He had previously written for the Smothers Brothers and Glen Campbell specials and was a bit of a comedy veteran by this point. This, for those of you counting at home, means that Mason Williams is technically proficient in at least two creative disciplines. Meanwhile, my play The Miracle Worker in Space is being rejected by the theater programs in federal prisons. It’s like, save some talent for the rest of us, Mason Williams, who celebrates his 78th birthday on August 24th. Though Williams has a pretty impressive career after his biggest hit “Classical Gas,” nothing else seems to be quite as memorable. He was inducted into the Oregon Musicians Hall of Fame, but quick, somebody name two other Oregon musicians. Exactly. So he’s best known for that one song. Big deal. It’s a hell of a song. Mason Williams could have done nothing else after “Classical Gas” and that song would still be good enough to secure his legacy. It’s been immortalized on The Simpsons, for heaven’s sake!

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“Classical Gas” expertly combines bombastic and emotional orchestral instruments with a rock aesthetic to create something totally unique that is still a fixture of classic rock stations today. Happy birthday, Mason Williams! See you next time, kiddos.

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