Classical Gas – Mason Williams

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………….on August 10th of 1968 guitarist Mason Williams tops the Cashbox chart with his own composition, “Classical Gas”. Williams, the head writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, would win three Grammy Awards at next year’s ceremony and in 1991 be given a Citation of Achievement by the RIAA for over five million broadcast performances.  Mason Williams said that he wrote this song as “fuel,” or a standby, for the classical guitar in case anyone wanted to hear him play something for them, therefore he called it “Classical Gasoline.” During recording, “Gasoline” was inadvertently abbreviated to “Gas” by the music copyist, giving it the name “Classical Gas.” Mike Post, who had made a name for himself producing the First Edition and their hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” produced the album. He got some static from a Smothers Brother after recording the orchestra for this song. Said Post: “I came in after the session was over, and Tommy Smothers turns to me and says, ‘That’s the most over-arranged piece of s–t I’ve ever heard.’ At that time I was 22 and not going to take anything from anyone. I was very sure of myself to cover up the fact that I was scared to death. So I told him to get out. To his credit, he came back the next day and said, ‘I was completely wrong, it’s a great record.'” Post wrote a middle section for the song because it needed a bridge, and conducted the orchestra. The song became a huge hit and got Post into television – he became the musical director on The Andy Williams Show in 1969 and went on to write many famous TV theme songs, including The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues and The Greatest American Hero. The instrumental reached #9 in the UK.