Though I've always enjoyed listening to what is commonly called "classical" music, I have spent fewer hours doing so than I have listening to jazz, rock, folk, or even pop music. And among the musical hybrids that have sprung up over my lifetime, my least favorite is the genre that was called "classical-rock" during its brief heyday. Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer are all immensely talented musicians. But none of the ELP recordings I bought as an impressionable young musician spent much time on my turntable after classical rock faded. The same goes for my recordings of other bands from this genre, e.g. Yes.
That aside, I was inspired recently to erect a Mt. Rushmore of popular songs with a strong tie to compositions originating in the world of classical music. Which four would you enshrine? Mine are listed alphabetically; order yours however you choose.
1.) Because: Aside from being some of the richest Fab Four three part harmony, this John Lennon song owes a debt to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I'd like to claim I was musically precocious enough to identify this link when Abbey Road was released in 1969. Alas, I was not.
2.) A Lover's Concerto: Although I was never wild about the vocal on this hit record by the Toys, I do recall being immediately entranced by that majestic melody, a direct lift from a Bach minuet.
3.) This Night: Of the four tunes on my Mt. Rushmore, composer Billy Joel is the only one who gave a co-credit to his writing partner - LV Beethoven - for this terrific tune from An Innocent Man.
4.) A Whiter Shade of Pale: The organ interludes - played by Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum on this massive hit - are courtesy of Johann Bach. The terrific Gary Brooker vocal - delivering that cryptic Keith Reid lyric - is memorable but, without those sweeping interludes, I suspect this tune might not have been nearly as popular. I'd wager most non-musicians could readily hum those interludes.
p.s. As I began construction on this iteration of Mt. Rushmore, I realized there was enough meat on these bones for a to-be-developed music course using this theme. Any local readers who already have taken one of my courses - or those who plan to - stay tuned.