Hugh Masekela

Grazing in the Grass

Composed by Harry Elston / Hugh Masekela / Philemon Hou

Song Review by

One of the biggest instrumental and vocal hits of the 1960s, "Grazing in the Grass" first appeared as an instrumental by the South African born and world traveled writer Hugh Masakela in late 1967. Combining Afro rhythms, big band jazz trumpet flourishes, and a soul-inspired groove that sucks the listener in, the song was fresh and innovative, yet also had a very easy melody to hum along with. According to legend, it was cut as a studio "toss-off" when record executive Russ Regan felt that Masakela's album, The Promise of a Future, wasn't long enough. Remarkably, when the song was released as a single in 1968, it stayed at the number one spot on the charts for two months. In 1969, the group Friends of Distinction released a vocal version that had echoes of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, which also went to number one. Ultimately, it remains one of the most popular songs of the 20th Century. A newly re-recorded version (which comes very close to Masakela's original on Uni Records) has been included on Columbia's The Best of Hugh Masakela, while the original is available on various compilations, including Rhino's Soul Instrumentals series.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Promise of a Future 1968 One Way Records
Soul Shots Vol. 3: A Collection of Sixties Soul Classics 1987
Various Artists
Rhino
AM Gold: 1968 1990
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:37
Rhythm & Blues: 1968 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Hope 1994 Razor & Tie / Triloka 3:27
Stimela 1994 Connoisseur 2:36
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  4: 1955-1969 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:35
Rock Instrumental Classics, Vols. 1-5 1995
Various Artists
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2:40
Instrumentals from Back in Da Day 1996
Various Artists
Quality Music / Quality 2:37
Classic Rock & Roll Instrumental Hits 1996
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:37
Soulful Grooves: R&B Instrumental Classics, Vol. 1 1996
Various Artists
Hip-O
18 Free & Easy Hits from the '60s 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 2:36
World Music That Speaks to the Spirit 1997
Various Artists
Triloka 3:29
Tighten Up: No. 1 Soul Hits of the 60's, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Relativity 2:37
Best of Easy Listening [Universal] 1997
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:36
Top Singles of the 60's 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:35
Slow Jams: On the Jazz Tip, Vol. 4 1998
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 2:39
#1 Hits of 1965-1969 1998
Various Artists
GNP/Crescendo 2:36
World Moods [Import] 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:23
Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz: Pop 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 2:38
Latin Oldies, Vol. 4 2000
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:35
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Collectables
Back to Black: 1900-1999 2001
Various Artists
Universal International 2:38
Greatest Hits 2001 Sony Music 2:55
The Classic Rhythm & Blues Collection, Vol. 3: 1966-1969 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:36
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:36
Grazing in the Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela 2001 Legacy 2:55
The Very Best of Africa [Nascente] 2002
Various Artists
Nascente / Import 4:10
Smooth Jazz [Universal] 2002
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:38
Smooth Grooves: Cruisin' Classics 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 2:40
Top Hits of the Sixties: Amazing Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:36
Still Grazing 2004 Blue Thumb / Blue Thumb Records / Universal 2:38
World: The Greatest Songs Ever 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:38
Pottery Barn: Backyard Party 2005
Various Artists
Rock River Records
#1 Hits of the Summer: Beach Party 2006
Various Artists
Collectables 2:36
60's Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:38
Soul Power Instrumentals 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:40
20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 2006 Hip-O / Verve 2:40
Bobby [Universal] 2006
Original Soundtrack
Island / Island Def Jam Music Group 2:36
The Soul Story, Vol. 4 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:36
Number 1's: '60s Soul 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:35
40 Jahre Flower Power 2007
Various Artists
G&H / Ganser & Hanke Media 2:38
Live at the Market Theatre 2007 Four Quarters Entertainment 14:42
Soul Story Infomercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:36
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:34
A Collector's R&B Dream: 1968, Vol. 1 2008
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:35
Beginners Guide to the World 2008
Various Artists
Nascente 4:10
Sweet Soul Music: 1968 2009
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:37
Pop Memories of the '60s: Instrumental Gold 2009
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:39
Pop Memories of the 60s [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:39
Easy Listening Classics/Time Life's Movie Classics
Various Artists
Time Life / Time/Life Music 2:38
blue highlight denotes editor's pick