This week, I’ll be writing about songs featured in some of my favorite musical moments from some of my favorite TV shows. Be warned that I don’t shy away from spoilers.
“Last Exit to Springfield” is an essential episode of The Simpsons, and perhaps its most revered. Inventive and satirical, it traces Homer’s bumbled but ultimately successful stint as union boss. He eventually persuades the power plant to keep providing its dental plan (“Lisa needs braces”) to its union.
The episode is so rich with gags and wit that it’s difficult to pinpoint any specific highlights, but I’m going to anyways: After Lisa plays a heartfelt, Joan Baez-esque protest song, Lenny walks up to her and asks her to play “Classical Gas.” As I’m sure you know, “Classical Gas” is a guitar piece with a catchy, memorable tune. If you watched the YouTube clip above, it’s probably stuck in your head right now. Lenny nods and snaps along as Lisa strums the melody.
This is a fantastic moment. “Now do ‘Classical Gas'” might be the most aesthetically perfect sentence ever spoken. Lisa’s abrupt shift from solemn protest song to catchy ditty undercuts the sincerity of the scene to hilarious effect. And it’s so charming watch an animated Lenny enjoy a simple piece of music so much.
It’s such a good gag that it became a recurring meme in the “Simpsons shitposting” community — a small, dedicated crew who mash up Simpsons content into new, bizarre creations. The Know Your Meme page links to a few examples.
One thought on “Song of the Day: “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams (The Simpsons)”
One follow-up note: I wanted to pick a song that wasn’t original to the show, otherwise I almost definitely would have written about the Planet of the Apes musical (officially: Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off – Starring Troy McClure).
However, I decided to limit my TV song picks to songs that were existing songs, either in their original form or as a cover. I suppose you could make the case that “Dr. Zaius” is a parody of “Rock Me, Amadeus” by Falco, and thus eligible, but I decided not to.
“I love legitimate the-ater.”