Great Songs of '1970s


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Forget about your traditional Top Ten Songs of the '70s.  I'm going to use this blog post to tell you about MY personal favorites from the '70s.  Everyone has their own musical favorites, and usually there is a memory associated with each one.  I'm not sure if any of my all-time favorites ever made the "The Top 100 Seventies Singles", but if you weren't there to experience these songs for the first time on AM radio, your record player that boasted a pink carrying case with handle (I had one), or 8-track, then you're in luck.  Listen for the first time (or again) via my links and enjoy.

1.  Year of the Cat - Al Stewart (1976)

Year of the Cat Album Coverimonomy - free enrichment tools for your site.

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came

In the Year of the Cat....

I had to include the first couple stanzas here, because the lyrics of this song are genius.  All you need to do is close your eyes and be transported to Casablanca, or the city and time of your choice.  The music is truly magical, haunting.  Close your eyes and climb on-board and see where this song takes you.

2.  Strange Magic - ELO (1976)

In my opinion ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) is one of the greatest groups of all (my) time.  It was a tough decision for me to decide between nominating Strange Magic or Can't Get It Out of My Head.  Ultimately, I went with Strange Magic because my 8-year-old son heard me playing the song and asked nonchalantly if I knew that this was one of Selena Gomez's songs and that he thought it was pretty good.  I informed him that this song was NOT Selena Gomez's.  I didn't go into my heart-felt sentiments about the true strange magic of this song, its lyrics, the memories it brings back, or my allegiance to a band that combined my love for the classics with my love of rock-n-roll.

3.  Poetry Man - Phoebe Snow (1974)

Honestly I can't comprise the proper paragraph to promote this song.  I would be interested in hearing memories of those who were teens at this time.  I have faint ones of this song as a backdrop and watching my Aunt descend the stairs and join her date in the foyer for Senior prom.  I was a little girl then, and this song stamped such an impression on my life on that night some time in early 1975, that I still love it today.

4.  Good Girls Don't (But I Do) - The Knack (1979)

She's your adolescent dream,
Schoolboy stuff, a sticky sweet romance.
And she makes you want to scream,
Wishing you could get inside her pants....

Hmmm...That harmonica and those honest lyrics straight from a teen-aged boy's mind...Maybe they don't stand up to time, but this one is a keeper in my book.  Is there any such thing any more as a "good girl"?  Well, let me tell you if you don't remember, there used to be in 1979.  Biased to the male gender or not, this song is one of my all-time unforgettables.  My parents had the 8-track "The Knack - Get the Knack" and I can't remember how many times I hit the 2 to replay "Good Girls Don't".

5.  Hello It's Me - Todd Rundgren (1974)

I just know that when I hear this song now I become a little kid again.  Back then it was just a popular song that I could fall asleep to in the back of my parents' car, feeling safe and protected and so very... immortal.  Now when I hear it I really listen to the words and I can imagine what it would have been like to be 25 (like my parents) at that point in time.  The simple words and yet complex meaning mesh with that memory of youth, the feeling that the "here and now" are forever and solid and immovable.

6.  Strawberry Letter 23 - Brothers Johnson (1977)
This is one of those songs I had completely forgotten about until about a month ago when it played on my cable's '70s music channel.  All the sudden I was in 3rd grade again.  Jimmy Carter was president, I was proud of my bell-bottom jeans with the flowers my mom had embroidered  on to the back pocket, I bought "Tiger Beat" regularly to see pics of Lief Garrett and Shawn Cassidy, and loved Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Waltons, and Little House on the Prairie.  Saturday mornings were filled with Schoolhouse Rock, American Bandstand, and Land of the Lost.

7.  Main Street - Bob Seger (1977)
Clearly, if this list were in any kind of order of importance, this song should be Number One.  My young 20-something parents brought home this 8-track and my young, beautiful SAHM played it on 8-track over and over again, forever engraving its words into my brain, into my very being.  This song is smoky, it's haunting, it's that kind of romance/obsession that can't be replicated.  It draws to mind a movie all my own that I've played over and over.

I remember standing on the corner at midnight
Trying to get my courage up
There was this long lovely dancer in a little club downtown
I loved to watch her do her stuff
Through the long lonely nights she filled my sleep
Her body softly swaying to that smoky beat
Down on Main Street

In the pool halls, the hustlers and the losers
I used to watch 'em through the glass
Well I'd stand outside at closing time
Just to watch her walk on past
Unlike all the other ladies, she looked so young and sweet
As she made her way alone down that empty street
Down on Main Street

8.  Lady - Styx (1973)

With each of my favorites that I've recorded here, I go to a different place.  I can't believe this song was released as early as 1973, because it was such an integral part of my childhood, and I count it as one of the all-time greats throughout the entire decade.  The piano acoustic, the simple yet stirring words (Lady of the morning, love shines in your eyes, sparkling, clear and lovely, you're my lady...).  There are few songs that could woo the UNwooable...but this is a contender.

9. On the Radio - Donna Summer (1979)

Ha!  Just when you thought I was sticking to the classic rock genre!  Remember, this is coming from a "child of the '70s".  One of the most memorable "movie" songs from one of the greatest movies ever "Foxes" (1980).  Okay, so maybe by today's standards it's dorky and the chicks aren't finely chiseled and honed by plastic surgeons, but I believe this movie and this song personified all the teenage angst of that time.  That's the only way I know to squeeze all of my experience with this song into a paragraph.  I guess you just "had to be there".

10.  I'm In You - Peter Frampton (1977)

I've saved the best 'til last.  At one time this song was just a pretty tune that rose to favor with me because it came to personify those surreal days of my youth, like so many of the others I've listed here.  But later in my life, as I've often gone to for comfort and memories, I've searched for this song in and listened anew.  "I'm in you, you're in me...i'm in're in me...".  Most people will never experience a love they can equate with this song, or even a memory.  You just have to "get it".  I guess I'm one of the lucky ones-by
Kristin McKenna

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