Monday, August 24, 2015

Music Monday ~ Classical Gas and Classical Class

 Mason Williams & Smothers Brothers.
Happy Birthday Mason Williams!

Mason Williams (born August 24, 1938), an American guitarist and composer, best known for his instrumental "Classical Gas". He is also a comedy writer, known for his writing on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and Saturday Night Live. He is also an eclectic poet and lyricist who has published several books.

And... tomorrow will be the anniversary of the birthday of powerhouse composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein. See Astrodienst for natal chart.

Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Flamboyant, inspired and voracious in his conducting style, Bernstein got his big break conducting the New York Philharmonic in 1943. He was one of the first American-born conductors to lead world-class orchestras. He composed the score for the musical West Side Story. After battling emphysema, he died at the age of 72. (From

For a good read about Bernstein, see an article written by Alex Ross for The New Yorker, in 2008 : The Legend of Lenny...New York celebrates Bernstein the composer.


Anonymous said...

... ... _ _ _

Automobile in America,
Chromium steel in America,
Wire-spoke wheel in America,
Very big deal in America!

Lenny ... one of the "best communicating" conductors ever!
- If I am playing, I'd want Georges Prêtre ...
- If I am conducting, I'm like Esa-Pekka Salonen ...

But to be in the audience ... gimmie some hunky brute!


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ LOL! You're giving "West Side Story" lyricist Stephen Sondheim a gee-up there kidd! Love it! WSS used to be my favourite musical - but that was before "Evita" and "Les Miz" entered the scene.

I'm a complete ignoramus on conductors and their varied styles of performance, but I can see how they might fit better in some roles than others, for different participants.
It seems Lenny was a colourful character - one o' those "force of nature" kinda guys. :-)

mike said...

I like some of Williams' music, but not so much his comedy. The 1960s and 70s presented an entirely new genre of comedy, which the Smothers' Brothers personified...stupid-silly. It was different for that era, unsophisticated, and entirely over-the-top stupid...LOL...designed more for the stoned-out, druggy generation. The guy was certainly multi-talented and was able to capitalize from his abilities.

Interesting to me that Bernstein was born in Lawrence, MA, as I resided there for five years. It is one of three towns in MA that was developed for textile milling and other industrial purposes (Haverhill and Lowell are the other two) all along the Merrimack River. Lawrence is just north of Andover...Lawrence is like a bastard child with its immigrants and poor standard of living, and Andover is where the rich and elite live and is home to the prestigious Phillips Academy...the two towns have a severe contrast of socio-economic levels.

I've always enjoyed the music of "West Side Story" and it's my favorite from Bernstein's collection. He had a rich professional life, but his personal endeavors were complicated and intertwined with self-interest vs family vs public. His natal astrology presents that, as well: Venus-Neptune conjunction, but square Mars...Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, trine Mars...Mars sextile Sun...Moon trine Saturn. Here's an interesting slice of his personal life:

mike (again) said...

Wowzers...have you seen the stock market????!!!! Crash and burn this morning on China's index plummeting. It's early, so maybe some recovery by end of day, or this day may go in the history books as another BLACK MONDAY! Trillions of $$$ are being lost right now!

mike (again) said...

Another off topic - I watched "The Station Agent" Saturday night and I see you reviewed the film. I enjoyed it, but found it lacking some essential substance. It is understated, so maybe I expected more.

I watched "Heathers" on Netflix last night and thought it was a fantastic dark comedy. It starts in one direction, then turns several times.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I'd never heard of the Smothers Bros. until I came to the US, and knew Mason Williams only due to "Classical Gas". Thanks for the link to the Bernstein article.
Although I like his "West Side Story" music, I doubt I'd have liked the man himself much, according to that article, and the one to which I linked in the post. But that probably applies to 80% of "celebs" whose professional work I've enjoyed over the years. Broken reeds, for me, the lot of 'em no doubt. Best not to consider those things.

I saw the headlines about the stock market yes. Don't really understand it all - had a quick look see what $ vs GB pound is at, and it has gone up a point. Can't be doing with big fall there with my pensions coming from that direction! :-/

"Station Agent" was a little peculiar but drew me in to its atmosphere. I always enjoy Peter Dinklage's performances.

Will take a look at "Heathers" next time we're seeking something to watch. Last night we started at ordinary TV's TLC channel for Who Do You Think You Are, missed most of the 7pm episode, but caught Bryan Cranston's at 8pm - interesting one! Then we went back to Netflix and tried a couple of episodes of "The Outcasts", a British sci-fi short series.

Not bad, not great, just okay. We'll probably carry on and finish the 8 episode set.

Anonymous said...

In my time-travel quest I watched 'Donnie Darko' and 'Source Code'.
Not overly fond of 'Darko' ... even with an aircraft engine as a plot device.
But 'Source Code' was a good time-loop romp on a train.

-speaking of time displacement
I also like how 'Classical Gas" step-modulates upwards at 0:53
It was (with Hawaii Five-O) ... a great 'skate fast' song at the rink when I was young.

The morse code in my previous comment is a representation of base form from 'America"
Syncopating as such ( 2x triplets then 3 ) ... is a great rhythmic tool for dance.


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ We saw 'Darko' years ago, on the insistence of husband's grandson, but couldn't get into it at all. Not sure if we've seen 'Source Code' - seems as though we should've though. I shall ponder on that one. On the topic of trains and loops "Snowpiercer", though not a time travel tale (more a future Dystopia one), is worth a look if you've not seen it already.

The rhythm of 'Classical Gas' IS infectious - I can't comment on the musical technicalities - the husband is knowledgeable on that, I'm clueless, I just know when I enjoy a good tune. :-)

I did wonder, when I saw your first comment this morning, whether it was some kind of morse (or other) code, but as I hadn't downed a cup of coffee at that point, felt I'd best leave that topic alone. Thanks for the clarification.

Kaleymorris said...

Mason Williams appeared in Duncan during the last year or two of the American Music Festival. Would have been 1988 or '89. The AMF was an annual series of performances for which the organizers sold subscriptions good at shows here and in Lawton. AMF faded and was reborn as the CTAC series you are familiar with.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~ I noticed from Wikipedia that he had some early ties to Oklahoma (school & college) so he probably had friends in these parts back then.
It'll soon be time for CTAC to get into gear again. Maybe we'll manage a few more attendances this season. :-)

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