Essential Listening #28: Classical Gas

“Classical Gas” by Mason Williams


  • Released in 1968.


  • Featured on the album The Mason Williams Phonograph Record.


  • Composed by Mason Williams.

Musical Style:

  • An instrumental piece blending classical, folk, and pop influences.
  • Features orchestration and a strong acoustic guitar lead.


  • Originally titled “Classical Gasoline,” the name was later shortened.
  • Williams described it as “fuel” for the classical guitar, combining elements of classical music with a contemporary feel.

Recording Details:

  • Recorded with a full orchestra, arranged by Al Capp.
  • The guitar part showcases Williams’ fingerpicking style.


  • Became a major hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Won three Grammy Awards in 1969, including Best Instrumental Composition.


  • Widely regarded as a classic instrumental track from the 1960s.
  • Frequently used in television and film, enhancing its popularity.

Live Performances:

  • Often performed by Williams and other guitarists, showcasing its technical complexity and appeal.

“Classical Gas” remains a celebrated piece for its innovative blending of musical styles and its enduring appeal as a guitar showcase.

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