Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Classical Merges with Rock


Artists were mixing folk, rock and soul with jazz, country and even classical. One of the bands that successfully mixed classical and pop/rock was The Moody Blues. Their albums featured long songs with orchestral arrangements. One of their most artistic songs was "Nights In White Satin," which even included a spoken word piece that called for sorting out reality from illusion. The song was originally released in 1969 but didn't become a huge hit until three years later. Another brilliant dreamy song was "Tuesday Afternoon." But they even had driving rock songs with compelling lyrics such as "Ride My See Saw," "I'm Just A Singer In A Rock And Roll Band" and "Question." Other emerging classical-inspired rock artists included Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and It's A Beautiful Day, who offered one of the most tranquil musical experiences of the period with "White Bird."

Mason Williams gave rock a spiritually uplifting classical treatment in "Classical Gas," which was one of those powerful instrumentals that painted pictures in the mind without words. An actual R. Strauss classical piece, "Also Sprach Zarathustra," became popular as the theme from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and became a huge hit five years later by Deodato, who offered a jazz/rock version of the piece. "Love Is Blue" by the Paul Mauriat Orchestra was another classical-inspired instrumental pop hit in 1968. Classical influence in pop music would resurface in the disco hit "A Fifth Of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy in 1976.

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