Fanfare for the Common Man (Emerson, Lake & Palmer song)
"Fanfare for the Common Man" is a song by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, from the group's 1977 Works Volume I album. Adapted by Keith Emerson from Aaron Copland's 1942 piece of the same name, it is one of their most popular and enduring pieces.
|"Fanfare for the Common Man"|
|Single by Emerson, Lake & Palmer|
|from the album Works Volume 1|
|B-side||"Brain Salad Surgery"|
|Released||1 May 1977 (UK) |
|Songwriter(s)||Aaron Copland, arr. Keith Emerson|
|Emerson, Lake & Palmer singles chronology|
ELP had previously adapted Copland's "Hoedown" for the band's Trilogy album in 1972. Although ELP did not always initially attribute the classical source for some of their pieces (only attributed in later releases of the albums), Copland was attributed as the source for both Hoedown and Fanfare. Unlike Bartók and Janáček, Copland was still alive at the time of the recording.
According to Emerson,
...it needed transposing, so I did that first. I wanted to improvise in a key that was sort of bluesy. It ended up in E. The rest of it was straightforward, really. You know, in order to get the shuffle sound, the timing had to be changed, but it was common sense.— 
Greg Lake remembers the first time ELP played the adaptation:
It was just wonderful how it came about: We were recording in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1976, and Keith was playing it as a piece of classical music. I played this shuffle bass line behind him and all of a sudden it started to connect. Then Carl came in and we three started to play it. Luckily, the engineer had a two-track running, and that is what’s on the record - the first time we played through the piece.— 
In another interview, Lake remarks:
We got a very ‘live’ dirty R & B sound that was really incredible. And all done with one microphone. We hadn’t played together for quite a while before that, apart from rehearsals and stuff. 'Fanfare' was thoroughly jammed, from top to bottom.— 
Comparison to originalEdit
Emerson's adaptation begins very much the same as Copland's original piece, though at a slightly faster tempo, up to about the thirty-second mark, where a strong rhythm line from drums, bass and Emerson on the lower rank of the GX-1 begins. From that point, Emerson restates the theme before starting the modal solo (on the GX-1's solo rank) that so bewildered Copland at about the three-minute mark, returning to the main theme at the eight-minute mark.
There is some ambiguity as to whether real trumpets or the Yamaha GX-1 was used for the introductory trumpet part. Anecdotal evidence suggests it was the GX-1. When performed on some of the Works Live tour, Fanfare began and ended with real trumpets but the liner notes for the album Works Volume I show only the three band members and no other performers on that track.
Reactions from CoplandEdit
Stewart Young, ELP's manager from 1972–present, made this comment on the documentary Beyond the Beginning:
The interesting thing... was that we had to get the permission of Aaron Copland, the composer. The publishing house said forget it. So I got Mr Copland's home number, called him up and he was very friendly on the phone. And he says "Send it to me, let me listen." And he loved it. He called me and said "This is brilliant, this is fantastic. This is doing something to my music."— 
In an interview with Melissa Merli of The News-Gazette, Emerson said: "I know that Aaron Copland for one admired my adaptation. The BBC radio people in England interviewed him shortly before he passed and got his opinion, and it was very complimentary."
In a BBC Radio interview, Copland relayed his reaction to the piece:
Interviewer: Just before I left London, I heard a piece of music of yours, Fanfare for the Common Man, which had been taken by a rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. How do you feel about that?
Copland: Well, (laughs) of course it's very flattering to have one's music adopted by so popular a group, and so good a group as Emerson, Lake & Palmer. A lot depends on what they do with what they take, and naturally since I have a copyright on such material, they're not able to take it without my permission; so that in each case, where I have given my permission, there was something that attracted me about the version that they perform, which made me think I'd like to allow them to release it. Of course, I always prefer my own version best, but (laughs) what they do is really around the piece, you might say, rather than a literal transposition of the piece, and they're a gifted group. In that particular case, I allowed it to go by because when they first play it, they play it fairly straight and when they end the piece, they play it very straight. What they do in the middle, I'm not sure exactly how they connect that with my music but (laughs) they do it someway, I suppose. But the fact that at the beginning and the end it really is the Fanfare for the Common Man gave me the feeling I ought to allow them to do it as they pleased.
Interviewer: I know your original work is just over three minutes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer have managed to turn it into a nine minute work.
Copland: (Laughs) Exactly, well, it's those six minutes in the middle...(laughs)— 
An edited version, closer to Copland's original three minutes, was released May 1977 as a single and became ELP's most popular release, reaching number 2 in the UK Singles Chart. The "B" side of the single was the song Brain Salad Surgery, recorded during the sessions for the album of the same name but not released until Works Volume 2.
|UK Singles Chart||2|
From the booklet that accompanies the Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Welcome Back My Friends. 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert DVD:
The instrumental reworking of Aaron Copeland's [sic] Fanfare for the Common Man became the third bestselling instrumental track ever and still holds that honor.— 
The compilations The Return of the Manticore, The Ultimate Collection, From the Beginning, Fanfare for the Common Man - Anthology, Come and See the Show - The Best of Emerson Lake & Palmer and The Very Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer feature the full version but the compilation The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer includes the single version. The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer contains a third version, running five minutes and forty seconds.
On the live recording Emerson, Lake and Palmer in Concert (later released as Works Live) the performance begins and ends with the orchestra that the band took with them for some of the 1977 tour supporting the release of the Works Volume I album.
ELP is also known to combine their rendition of Fanfare with other pieces, such as during their performances Live at the Royal Albert Hall and Live in Poland, which end with a piece titled "Finale" or "Medley" that contains Fanfare and adaptations called America (based on America by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim) and/or Rondo (based on Blue Rondo à la Turk by Dave Brubeck), both of which were played by Emerson when he was in the band The Nice.
Performances by ELP and by othersEdit
Fanfare became a staple of ELP's concerts, and while the opening and closing portions of the piece follow the recorded version fairly closely, Emerson's "modal" solo varied from one performance to another.
Fanfare has also been performed by the band members in other bands, including:
- Emerson performed Fanfare in 1990 with John Entwistle, Joe Walsh, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and Simon Phillips on tour in Japan as the supergroup The Best, with his old band The Nice in Glasgow on a tour in 2002, at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in 2007 with Yes band members Chris Squire and Alan White. and most recently with the Keith Emerson Band.
- Emerson and Palmer performed it together in concert as part of the band 3 with Robert Berry on guitar, but not on the band's 1988 release To the Power of Three.
- Emerson and Lake performed Fanfare in concert as part of the band Emerson, Lake & Powell but not on the band's self-titled studio album.
- Lake also performed Fanfare in concert but with none of the other original members performing.
- Palmer has performed Fanfare in concert, including a reunion concert with Asia, with Geoff Downes on keyboards, Steve Howe on guitar and John Wetton on bass and with an Asia spin-off called Qango. Most recently, Palmer has presented a show entitled “Carl Palmer & His Band – Celebrates The Music of Emerson Lake & Palmer," which features a version of Fanfare, amongst other ELP pieces. Palmer's band consists of himself on drums, guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick.
- Emerson worked with producer Mike Bennett on Reworks: Brain Salad Perjury in 2007 which consists of remixes of ELP songs, including two versions of Fanfare.
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- Cohen, Elliot, "Lucky Man", Bass Player 2011|quote="I did use the Alembics for a while. The company built a whole series of custom basses for me. It was during the period when we did "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Karn Evil 9.""
- "Greg Lake One-2-One". www.greglake.com. Retrieved January 24, 2012."I used the 8 string bass on Fanfare because of its wirey and resonant sound."
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