Friday, January 17, 2014

Let Us Praise the 1970s

Withywindle started it, and now David is playing along, so I can too. After all, haven't I documented at great length how pop music came alive for me in the 1970s, through the power of radio? So I happily take up David's challenge, and herewith present 10 reasons why I agree with Withy's post title: the 1970s were, indisputably, the apogee of American pop music:

1) James Taylor, "Anywhere Live Heaven" (1970): I didn't discover this song until the 1990s--but then, with a few (but important!) exceptions, I didn't really understand and appreciate the 70s until more than a decade after I'd lived through them.

2. Ringo Starr, "It Don't Come Easy" (1971): If you're the least talented of the Beatles, you're still more talented than most musicians on God's green earth (of course, if you have George Harrison playing lead guitar and Bad Finger providing your background vocals, that doesn't hurt either).

3. Chicago, "Saturday in the Park" (1972): A great track by what was, in those early years, the greatest mellow-white-guy funk band of all time.

4. Stevie Wonder, "Living for the City" (1973): "Her brother's smart / he's got more sense than many / His patience's long but soon he won't have any / To find a job is like a haystack needle / Cause where he lives they don't use colored people"--simply comparable stuff.

5. Paul McCartney and Wings, "Band on the Run" (1974): The second appearance (and not the last!) of a former Beatle on this list, and one I'm absolutely unapologetic about. Wings wasn't a great band, but when Paul was on (and he certainly was here, channeling as he was the spirit of the Fab Four), he was really on.

6. David Bowie, "Fame" (1975): Bowie was finished with his latest album, and was hanging out in New York City, waiting for other details to be resolved, when he and John Lennon got together. A one-day jam session resulted in this angry beauty.

7. Heart, "Magic Man" (1976): In my view, the most critically underrated heavy metal band of all time. Could sexism have something to do with that? Gosh, I wonder.

8. Player, "Baby Come Back" (1977): I was actually singing along with this some out loud as I drove home from an appointment last night. No joke.

9. Al Stewart, "Time Passages" (1978): Quite possibly my favorite pop song of all time. My first favorite at least, that's for certain.

10. Electric Light Orchestra, "Don't Bring Me Down" (1979): Dancing to this out in the middle of playground in sixth grade while singing this song to myself in my head did little for my popularity, but I'm sure it built character.

And just for the heck of it...

11. George Benson, "Give Me the Night" (1980): A fitting benediction to a great decade.

And who haven't I found room for here, all of whom deserved inclusion? Only: The Bee Gees; Cat Stevens; The Commodores; Creedence Clearwater Revival; The Doobie Brothers; Earth, Wind, and Fire; Elton John; Genesis; John Denver; Kool & the Gang; Led Zeppelin; Neil Diamond; Paul Simon; The Police; Queen; The Rolling Stones; Tree Dog Night; War; The Who; and many, many, many more. Pop music's apogee? You bet it was.


The Modesto Kid said...

The '70s have got nothing on either the '20s or the '30s.

The Modesto Kid said...

Plus how could you leave out "Funkytown"?

Russell Arben Fox said...

Modesto: 1) I suppose I'd have to agree with you about the glory days of jazz and Tin Pan Alley; let's say, then, that the 1970s were the apogee of postwar American popular music. 2) What do you mean, "how could I leave out 'Funkytown'?" Dude, look at all I left out! "Beast of Burden," "My Sweet Lord," "Brown Sugar," "Maggie May," "Crocodile Rock," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Dancing Queen," "Sundown," "Black Dog," "Sister Golden Hair"....the list goes on and on. The decade was a plethora of riches, I tell you.

Withywindle said...

Just finished listening to all of these; thank you!