Here we have collected some of the questions we hear the most. Since we have a limited staff, we would appreciate it if you could peruse these before submitting your own, but we are happy to answer any questions about Classical Gas and Mason's career. Just click here to send an email to us.
Did I hear Classical Gas on TV?
Classical Gas has been used as the theme music for Granada Television's watchdog broadcast "This is your right" running from 1972 to 1986. It was also used in the 1980s by Channel 4 during their NFL results presentation, and in the 1970s and 1980s and several local area television news programs in the United States used it as their theme song. The song also forms the basis for an identically-titled television news theme, published by a now-defunct company called Telesound. NASA also used it as the background music for the Apollo 4 mission film. In “The Simpsons” episode "Last Exit to Springfield", Lenny asks Lisa, who is playing a guitar, to play Classical Gas, which she does. The TV show “Frasier” used the song in episode titled "The Great Crane Robbery”. Visit the TV, Film & Video page for more information.
Has Classical Gas ever been used in a movie soundtrack?
It is played in the 2003 movie "Cheaper by the Dozen" in a series of scenes when the family is looking for their son Mark, who ran away, and it was used in the trailer and on the soundtrack for the film "The Story of Us." It can also be heard in “The Dish,” an Australian film about the television coverage of the first moon walk. Visit the TV, Film & Video page for more information.
Did Eric Clapton Ever record Classical Gas?
There is a common misconception that Eric Clapton arranged and performed this song, but Clapton has actually never recorded Classical Gas. The misconception may come from the fact that Eric Clapton was the musical director and played much of the guitar music in the movie “The Story of Us,” however, the version of Classical Gas on the soundtrack is from Mason Williams' 1971 album “Handmade.” Visit the Recordings & Covers page for a complete list of artists who have covered Classical Gas.
How can I obtain permission to record/perform/play Classical Gas?
If you are interested in recording, performing or using Classical Gas in a commercial or for-profit venture please see the Licensing & Permissions page.
I would like to use Classical Gas in a project I am doing for school?
Mason will grant gratis use of Classical Gas a few times a year to benefit projects or causes he is connected to. If you are interested in a one time or non-commercial use (i.e. a school project, wedding, or small presentation) be advised that processing this type of use is not a priority for Mason’s publishing administrators so you may not hear back from them for 3 to 6 months, if at all. One-time or non-commercial use of the song without permission is a do-at-your-own-risk proposition, however, be advised if your venture or project becomes a for-profit operation formal rights must be acquired.
How can I acquire charts or sheet music for my band or orchestra to perform Classical Gas?
Mason Williams Productions can provide band and orchestral charts and sheet music for Classical Gas as well as a number of the songs in his catalog. There is a nominal rental charge that mostly covers the cost of reproduction as well as shipping and handling. Some sheet music is also available for sale. There is more information and an online request form on the Scores & Charts page.
How can I get Mason Williams to appear at my event/festival/venue?
Mason will be spending 2008 on the road promoting the 40th Anniversary of Classical Gas with his band and other guest artists. If you are interested in booking him for your event or venue please visit the Tour page and use the online booking request form. The schedule is filling up so don’t dally.
When Is Mason Williams going to perform in my area? What are his performances like?
Mason's performances can take on a variety of permutations; ranging from a solo appearance to guest appearances with symphonic orchestras. He primarily appears with his pop band playing folk and jazz standards and favorites from his catalogue.
He also plays with Byron Berline and his Bluegrass Band performing a variety of favorites from the country and bluegrass genre, and also as a duo with harp guitarist Dawn Joan. Visit the Tour page for the current schedule.
Which album is Classical Gas on? How or where can I get it?
Classical Gas has appeared on 4 albums recorded by Mason Williams; “The Mason Williams Phonograph Record”, “Handmade”, “Music 1968-1971” and “Classical Gas” (with Manheim Steamroller). All of these albums should be available at your favorite CD retailer or on Amazon.com, except for “Handmade” which is out of print.
What is the connection between Classical Gas and the Smothers Brothers?
Mason composed the song while he was the head writer for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1968, and he appeared on the program playing the song a number of times. He and the Smothers Brothers have collaborated on a number of TV specials and recordings, and they have played quite a role in each others entertainment careers.
Does Mason have a favorite guitar? What guitar did he write Classical Gas on?
Mason uses a variety of guitars - there are 5 that he plays and practices with regularly that we list below. Classical Gas was composed on the Cordova, or the Stella or both, depending on which day you ask.
- The Foggy Mountain Mason Williams Signature Series Guitar and the Foggy Mountain Classical Gas Commemorative Guitar.
- A Martin D28 he bought in Santa Fe in 1972, to learn to play rhythm guitar with a pick.
- An Epiphone 12 string he acquired in a trade with Ken Kesey.
The Cordova Classical made by luthier Oskar Teller. Tommy Smothers gave this guitar to Mason in 1968.
- Another favorite guitar of Mason’s is a Stella he purchased for $13. He wrote a song for this guitar called, appropriately, $13 Stella – it is on his "Ear Show" album.
How can I reach Mason directly? Will he reply to me, or will I hear from his staff?
The staff at Mason Williams Productions will respond to any general questions such as, "What kind of guitar strings does Mason use?" But any personal notes or direct inquiries go to the man himself! Mason reads and responds personally to pretty much all of his fan mail. If you would like to send a message to Mason and his staff, click here.
Did Mason Williams really make a life-size photo of a Greyhound Bus?
Yes, as a matter of fact, he made 200 of them. It was a limited edition art book, yes he made them, and then folded them up till they were book size and put them in boxes…
Mason has had a long and varied, distinguished, and peculiar creative life – on top of his musical career, he has written for television, published a dozen or so books and has pieces of art in both MOCA and MOMA, for a complete biography, and more extensive information about his career please check out www.masonwilliams-online.com.