4 Classic Rock Songs That Surprise with Flute

When you think about classic rock, it’s likely you think about amps exploding and people (like Bono or Eddie Vedder) climbing to the rafters of the stage and doing some jungle gym antics. Likely your first thought is not about the flute.

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But that doesn’t mean the delightfully delicate instrument doesn’t have a place in the hard-hitting sounds of the genre. Yes, some of rock’s biggest names, as you can see below, have taken advantage of the instrument to bring the dulcet tones into their tunes.

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1. “Moondance,” Van Morrison

Released on the 1970 album of the same name, this is one of the more recognizable songs from its era, with bright piano, stalwart acoustic, and Van Morrison’s elastic voice. You might not even notice the flute at first, but there it is in a bouquet of spirit, trill and shrill but also soft and supportive. Like a sprite showing itself near the song’s opening, singing along with Morrison on perhaps his biggest hit.

2. “Say Goodbye,” Dave Matthews Band

You can’t miss the flute on this song. The track, released on Dave Matthews Band’s album Crash in 1996, opens with it. The band’s longtime saxophone player LeRoi Moore plays it and he, before passing away in 2008, would often play the instrument during live shows, too. Here, the flute brings the listener into the rather intimate song about two friends deciding to spend the night together as lovers. As if a heart floating in the air, the flute brings us in, with love.

3. “Moonage Daydream,” David Bowie

Released first as a single in 1971 and then on an LP in 1972 on the David Bowie album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, this song includes flute around the two-minute mark, along with a blistering saxophone. The bright instrument adds a psychedelic feel to the space-aged rock number. It underscores Bowie’s searching vocals and his call to the stars. A little birdie supporting his full-throated call.

4. “Sing Child,” Heart

From the Seattle-born rocker sisters’ debut LP, Dreamboat Annie, released in 1975, this Heart song is classic rock through and through. It demonstrates Ann Wilson’s incredible voice and Nancy’s prowess on the electric guitar. Both ring out like bells with their respective instruments. But the flute enters the picture at the two-minute mark with almost reckless abandon. It’s jazzy, confident, and full of exclamation marks.

(Photo by Steve Morley/Redferns/Getty Images)

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