Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man


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— This ten minute song as well as much of the other music of Aaron Copeland have always been favorites of mine. Turns out, the music goes back to 1942, when it was first performed for the Cincinnati Orchestra. The rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer did a really good job with it in 1977, as have other groups such as Styx, as well (although that music is a bit of a stretch to say it’s directly connected to the original: ELP is). Since then, the music continues to appeal to even us rockers, maybe especially to people like me who have always championed the “little guy.” I find I love to hear it, maybe even twice, every time I come across the work. I also like the other two songs it was accompanied by, especially Appalachian Spring (an orchestral version which is much quieter) and Rodeo.

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Fanfare For The Common Man

The best single rendition of classical
music turned into rock that I know of

The Daily Walk with Love, March 18, 2018 by Paul Evans. with video of the ELP (Emerson Lake and Palmer) rock version courtesy of ELP and YouTube. Featured photograph courtesy of Weiner Elementary.

I don’t want to distract you from this triumphant, amazing music (which in my opinion is perhaps better than the group’s better known single, “Lucky Man,” which was itself a huge hit back in the 70’s and on through the 80s too), so I will just give you links to resources to read if you want to. First of all, see Fanfare for the Common Man on Wikepedia, which is about the song an it’s history. Wikipedia also has a short description with more history of Fanfare for the Common Man in a more learned discussion of the song. Some articles cite the song we are providing you here as having a possible inspiration “in part by a famous speech made earlier in the same year; in that speech, the vice president of the United States of America, Henry A. Wallace, proclaiming the century of the common man.” 1942 was smack into WWII and I guess somehow the lower classes missed out (as we usually do).

Here are a few more references: Rolling Stone has a good write up on ELP and lists their ideas on the ten best songs by Emerson Lake and Palmer. I will just note that Rolling Stone ranks Fanfare for the Common Man as ELP’s best song. The single came out as the first song on Works Volume 1, and the double album was — to my knowledge — the groups best and most popular album. If you’d like, please feel encouraged to see the selection of digital rights free 256 kbs mp3’s on Amazon.com.

UnionSquareMusic, which uploaded the video to YouTube, stated that ELP’s adaptation of Aaron Copland’s composition “was released as a three minute single reaching No. 2 in the UK singles chart.” I like Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring and Rodeo, almost equally as much, which is a lot! Now, hopefully we are all up for one of the most moving and inspiring songs of classical music turned into rock music that I know of: see what you think.

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