Thursday, February 23, 2006

Top Ten Songs from the 70s


As I continue to illegally download mp3s (Thanks Limewire!) I often find myself pondering what's truly podworthy and what's not. It took about at least 45 minutes of my valuable time to come up with this list, so it may not be perfect. Let the criticism begin!

Top ten songs from the 70s (subject to change!):

10 Same Old Lang Syne--Dan Fogelberg: This is nothing more than my own guilty pleasure. Dan Fogelberg doesn't belong on anybody's top ten list, but this lilting, evocative and personal song struck a chord with me when it came out and still does when I hear it today.

9 Paranoid--Black Sabbath: The twisted symbiosis of darkside marketing and brilliant song crafting resulted in this alternative classic. Ozzie went on to perfect the paranoid theme and 25 albums later is still going strong. Well...not strong, but still going, which is quite surprising.

8 Come Sail Away--Styx: I wasn't a huge Styx fan, but you can play this at my funeral and I'll "be" happy. Sentimental, some would say sappy, yet powerful. from the much-maligned pioneers of commercial rock.

7 The Kinks--Lola: The brilliantly clever magic of the lyrics are deftly mated to a catchy and unforgettable melody--the highlight of the group's incredible career. And it makes a great ringtone for your cellphone..

6 Kashmir--Led Zepellin: The previous five Zep albums could not have predicted this. Known for their powerful, yet derivitive, metal rock, this all-time LZ classic was like King Kong at Mardi Gras--it stood out even from the background of the transcendent Physical Graffiti album.

5 Can't You Hear Me Knocking--Rolling Stones: At the height of their drug-inspired songwriting powers, this song just plain rocks at its beginning and then wonderfully fades into horn-induced instrumental fog.

4 Rosalita--Bruce Springsteen: I was a Springsteen early adopter. Loved his first album (Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J), but Rosalita came out on his second (The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, 1974). Resurrected the artform of the folksy power ballad, originated a few years earlier by Dan Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater.

3 All the Young Dudes--David Bowie: The opening notes of this seminal (pardon the pun) Bowie classic are duplicated only by the first fifteen seconds of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band, recorded six or seven years earlier by the Beatles. Instantly recognizable, this anthem of the emerging uncloseted Dude set was first recorded by Mott the Hoople, who, with Davie Bowie's direction, was able to turn it into a top ten popular hit and an enduring classic. David's version wasn't bad, either.

2 London Calling--The Clash: CBS called them "unlistenable." The rest of us called them the only band that mattered. From their stunning second album (1979), this underground hit with its spooky lyrics and haunting, desperate mood defined the best of punk rock and led directly to the grunge movement ten years later.

1 Tangled up in Blue--Bob Dylan: I still haven't fully solved the lyrics, though I'm sure I've listened to this song over a thousand times, which just proves that true artistry is timeless and provocative. From probably the best album of the 70s (Blood on the Tracks).

Honorable Mention: Almost anything by Neil Young.

7 comments:

S said...

I'm working on it, believe me.

LZ said...

Who the heck is Led Zeppelin?

seattlefrank said...

Thanks lz for your thoughtful and provocative comment. While Led Zeppelin was not an easy choice, it was either them or the Chi Lites and their 1979 hit single "Have You Seen Her." I eventually settled on Led Zeppelin as more representative of the entire decade.

Anonymous said...
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SB said...

not in any order, and no witty commentary I'm afraid. Our record player is still working luckily, and I think I have all of these, except Eagles and Cat Stevens.

ballad of sweeney todd - 79. one of the best moments ever in any musical is when sweeney walks out to sing this.

nilsson – without you - 71
lots of good ones on that album

neil young – ohio 70
many to choose from, needle and the damage done and heart of gold were good too

elvis costello – alison 77
he sings Let's Misbehave in DeLovely, the movie about Cole Porter, you wouldn't have predicted that from his first album

james taylor – fire and rain – 70

american pie – 71
I think I wore this record out, it hasn't aged as well as most, but what the heck, it can go on for sentimental reasons.

springsteen – blinded by the light
just to be different, on re-listening Rosalita does sound good.

van morrison – moondance 70
jackie wilson said on the same record was good, too.

lennon - instant karma – 70

currently under consideration for 10th -
mccartney - he had a few good ones

rod stewart – every picture tells a story, or some song from that album

king singers - new day. I don't understand it, but have played it many times. It's better when you can't understand the lyrics, I just looked them up and it's not as interesting now.

dylan – you’re going to make me lonesome when you go

warren zevon – accidentally like a martyr or mama couldn’t be persuaded or back turned looking down the path

waterloo sunset - 67
It still sounds like the 70s to me

something of the eagles, though I've never owned any

who’s next – behind blue eyes, won’t get fooled again

cat stevens - he was interesting for a bit

tower of power – bump city 72
Tim's wake up call

elton john - Burn down the mission, Levon. Cindy had these and they were not bad at all.

joe jackson – look sharp 78/79
I don't think I'll play this one, but I thought it was great at the time and I still have it.

Anonymous said...

Well SB, a valiant effort, but methinks you're stuck in the late 60s.

music lover said...

I’d like to repeat some artists but I’m gathering from your post and sb’s post that that’s not part of the ground rules so with that restriction here are my choices for best songs of the ‘70s.

10) Dies Irae by Verdi (’73), from his Requiem. You’ve got to be there in person to feel the triple fortissimos. Your body shakes when the bass drum does its stuff. And it’s not amplified!

9) New York, New York (’77), Liza Minnelli. I prefer the Ur version to the ubiquitous one from the Chairman of the Board.

8) Gloria from Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli (‘7?—Julian calendar). He kicked ass with this piece—and showed those clowns at the Council of Trent that polyphony had its place in the holy service.

7) Copacabana, Barry Manilow. (’74) “Her name was Lola, She was a showgirl.” Say no more. He came of age as an artist with this song. Quite a step up from his jingle years, no?

6) Toreador, en garde from Bizet’s Carmen. (’75). Yes, it’s an obvious choice, but as the incomparable HW Fowler said: “Avoidance of the obvious is all very well, provided that it is not itself obvious; but if it is, all is spoiled.” (I know the e in Toreador has an accent. I’ll learn that html tag in due time.)

5) America, Neil Diamond. (gotta be a ‘70s song despite the ‘80 copyright). Far, I’ve been traveling so far--and I’m only up to number 5?

4) L’Incontro Improviso—Finale Act I, Haydn (’77). OK, it’s not a song, per se. But I had to put something of Haydn in here. Could you tell me why Haydn’s operas aren’t the best “new” music of my lifetime?

3) Live and Let Die, (’73) Paul McCartney. “This ever changing world in which we live in.” I love prepositions at the ends of sentences. But when you get one at the end that was there in the beginning, I’m in heaven.

2) Dido and Aeneas, (‘7?) Purcell. There’s so much good stuff in here I just decided to list the whole thing. You got a problem with that?

1) (No drum roll please) Ballad of Sweeney Todd. (’79) Sondheim. One of the best moments ever in any musical is when Sweeney walks out to sing this.