My husband I have a difference of opinion. He loves classic rock; I hate, hate it. I hate Aerosmith, and to me, Rolling Stones tracks sound tinny and weak. Led Zeppelin is okay, but I never bought any of their records. The Who is a complete mystery. Forget any of the heavy metal bands. I'm not a fan of angry music.
I think the disconnect is as simple as AM radio versus FM. In the seventies my spouse was an album guy. I bought no rock records, but I binged on AM radio, mostly because I was surrounded by it, either at work or on my portable transistor. In my small town, FM radio was a niche. Nobody actually tuned into it, probably because the lone classic rock station was lazy and didn't even try. Anybody who was anybody glued their car radio dial to 550, KFYR. KFYR played the hits; not deep album tracks.
Thus, my husband's and my musical experiences were completely divergent.
Like I once denigrated seventies country music until decades later when I learned better, I scoffed at seventies pop ~ cheesy, manufactured, trivial.
Turns out I was wrong.
Oh, there were plenty of cheesy hits throughout the decade, including possibly the worst single of all time, "You're Havin' My Baby"; and there were others. You Light Up My Life, My Girl Bill, Muskrat Love, Afternoon Delight, American Pie (😉 ~ maybe that's just me).
And tons of one-hit wonders. But that's what makes the seventies so singular. One top ten hit and never heard from again. Come on, Brownsville Station? Paper Lace? Yet, if you were around then, you've never forgotten those singles.
I currently have 310 tracks on my seventies Spotify playlist, but never fear ~ I'm not going to inundate you with 310 music videos. I'll choose six or seven, tops, ranging from "fun" to "classic" (yes, there were classics!)
1973 ~ The Hues Corporation ~ Rock The Boat
1974 ~ ABBA ~ Waterloo Also 1974 ~ The Guess Who ~ Star Baby
1975 ~ America ~ Sister Golden Hair
1974~ Dave Loggins ~ Please Come To Boston
1973 ~ Elton John ~ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1971 ~ Nilsson ~ Without You (sorry for the fake "live" video) 1974 ~ Gordon Lightfoot ~ Sundown 1977 ~ The Bee Gees ~ How Deep Is Your Love I could go on and on (obviously), but one must know when to stop. Suffice it to say, I now love the seventies. It could be nostalgia, but I believe it's a case of not recognizing the good while it was happening.
By the way, I like cheesy songs as long as they're deliberately corny and not a steaming mound of cow patties masquerading as "super serious" ditties. (I'm lookin' at you, Paul Anka and Debbie Boone.)
And: I think I just may come back to this topic at a later time.
The friends in my life were friends of a time. I may have even forgotten some who were once important to me. I'm not sure how others make friends, but mine have mostly have been through my various jobs. I know people who've had friends ever since high school. That didn't work out for me. My best friend from sixth grade through high school graduation, Alice, died. I did have other friends in school, but they were ancillary friends. I only had one best friend, and that's all I needed.
And truth be told, Alice and I stopped being friends around the time we turned twenty-one. We had wildly divergent lives -- I became a new mom and she was single and singing in a band. I was searingly hurt when I called her and wanted to drive over with my newborn son to visit and she responded indifferently. I never did go. That was the last conversation she and I ever had.
Once my kids were older and my then-husband and I escaped for an occasional night out, we'd sometimes patronize the club where Alice and her band played every weekend, and we'd ease into a table next to the one where the band took their breaks, but she and I never even acknowledged one another. If I had been older and wiser, I would have made the effort to at least walk over and make superficial conversation, but I waited for her to make the first move. She never did. Hurt feelings; hurt pride; confusion -- she and I had once been as close as two humans could be, and now we were strangers.
Several years later, my son called to tell me Alice had died, and I mourned silently -- I guess mostly for the times that could never be relived. I frankly didn't know her; I'd stopped knowing her in 1974. That didn't erase the eons when her friendship had buoyed me through the hell I was living at home; the afternoons she spent in my dank bedroom teaching me how to play guitar; the giggling inside jokes we'd shared.
I never again had a best friend.
When I secured my first "real" job in 1973, I made another friend. Her name was -- Alice.
The truth was, Alice and I most likely became friends because we were thrown together, but I liked her, despite (or because of) her crazy life. I lived vicariously through her adventures. Alice had come from a small town of approximately 600 souls, but apparently very enlightened souls. She was a mid-twentieth century girl living a twenty-first century life. Alice was tall and willowy and apparently exuded a scent that attracted all manner of male persons; elderly, teen-aged, and in between; and she reveled in it. When I met Alice's mom, I was shocked to encounter a tiny immigrant lady who struggled with the English language and who steamed up a batch of Borscht soup and delivered it in a Tupperware container to her daughter's flat. I liked Alice because she tossed off testosterone-stoked attention matter-of-factly, and she was funny, self-deprecating, and guileless. Alice was confident in her identity. I, on the other hand, was still straining to figure out who I was supposed to be.
Alice and I dwelled in an office in the rear of the State Health Department, along with a hard-bitten bleached-blonde supervisor we quickly came to hate. It didn't help matters that our supervisor's husband, like every other man on the planet, magically fell under Alice's spell and showed up unannounced at her apartment door one evening. The ensuing fallout was awkward. Not for me, of course. I frolicked in the tabloid headlines. But that tiny back room became perilous, with glinting knives whooshing too close to my jugular for comfort.
Meanwhile, the desktop transistor innocently played.
Unfortunately, no live Grand Funksters to be found, but still...
Yes, this was a thing (in fact, number 8 on the charts) in 1974:
This guy was unusual, but intriguing, and a helluva singer. Fortunately, this track is a bit more memorable than "The Streak":
Maria Muldaur, I don't think, ever had another hit, but this was huge in 1974, although I didn't have a camel to send to bed. I didn't even have a dog:
I tried to convince Alice, once she finally found "the one", after rabid experimentation, that she should feature this song in her wedding. She declined. I still think I'm right:
Upon first hearing this next track, I was perplexed, yet intrigued. This was an old BJ Thomas song, but BJ wouldn't have thought to do an "ooga-chalk-a" intro, I'm pretty sure. Weird songs were de rigeur in 1974. Jim Stafford was big (whatever happened to him?) with Spiders and Snakes, and especially "My Girl Bill". Paper Lace invented the "east side of Chicago". My tween-aged sister's music came into being, with "Beach Baby" and "Billy, Don't Be A Hero". My little brother was enamored by "Smokin' In The Boy's Room". Some blonde-headed geek had sunshine on his shoulder. One of the all-time worst recordings in history, "Havin' My Baby", somehow became a hit. Wings became huge.
In the meantime:
Carly and James were still married, and National Lampoon's Vacation not withstanding, everyone liked this:
The Hues Corporation, which was a poorly-conceived name for a band, had a big hit:
There was a hit that I never really appreciated until years later, by a guy who knew how to write a killer song.
My favorite songs from 1974:
But the absolute most memorable to me was this next song, which I tormented Alice with as I sang along to the radio. I suppose I thought I was being cute, and maybe my judgmental side slipped out. My crooning never failed to elicit an exasperated response.
Alice had a little walk-up apartment two blocks from the State Capitol, and every day at noon, the two of us would ride the elevator down from the eighteenth floor and click along the street in our polyester mini-dresses and high heels to enjoy a lunch of SpaghettiO's heated in an aluminum pan on her gas stove. I never once thought to volunteer the fifty-nine cents to cover the cost of our little meal. I was a rube.
My stint at the State Health Department was my first real job. It ended badly, but in the grand scheme of life, it mattered little, except for the memories it created.
Alice and I remained friends for a while. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, as I was in hers. We bore sons at roughly the same time. She and her husband eventually moved to a little town where they purchased an auto body shop. She began selling Avon products. I visited...once. Alice was fun and upbeat. I felt happy being around her. I envied her. I guess I always had.
At eighteen or nineteen, one's life experiences are seared into their brain. We have so much empty brain matter, I'm guessing, that everything -- music, little day-to-day trifles -- assume vast importance.
Thus, many decades later, I wrote a song to try to capture that time.
I'll admit, I Googled Alice, just to know what had become of her. I found her, but I wouldn't ever try to contact her, because she probably doesn't even remember me, and that would be embarrassing and humbling. Some memories should remain just that -- memories.
I was thinking about work tonight, which is not like me. When I leave my workplace on Friday afternoon, bye-bye! One needs to maintain a separation between work life and actual life. I know people who live for their jobs. That used to be me, but I'm older and much wiser now.
I got my first real job in 1973; and by real job, I mean one in which I didn't report to my parents. As a newly-minted high school graduate, with no idea why I would want to attend college, I realized that I needed to put my two years of typing class to use. I'd also taken two years of shorthand, but you know what? Nobody in the course of history has ever employed shorthand in an actual job. Shorthand was a scam, but I prefer to call it a "lost art", because it sounds mystic.
Living in the capitol city of my state, government jobs flowed like water. Luckily for me. I landed a job as a Clerk Typist I in the State Health Department, Division of Vital Statistics. The office housed all the birth, death, and marriage records from the early days of Dakota Territory to the present day. Of course, the first thing I did when I had the chance was scan the shelves to find my own birth certificate, and then my dad's. Then I located my mom and dad's marriage document. None of those records contained anything eye-opening. But, after all, who wouldn't have looked? There were rack upon rack of big dusty books in the bowels of the Vital Statistics office.
Folks would pop in from time to time, ride the elevator (that had its own valet) up to the seventeenth floor, fill out a form and leave with a certified copy of their record of birth. I typed up my own copy for myself; made myself three years older than I actually was, so I could go to bars and not get kicked out. (Is it okay to admit that now? I'm thinking after forty-four years, the statute of limitations has run out.)
After a few months of manning the front desk and trying to look busy during the quiet times, I was chosen to be part of a new (exciting!) project. The big dusty books had to go -- we were now going to microfilm all the ancient reposing records. Microfilm. Much like shorthand, microfilm is a remnant of a bygone era. A microfilm machine was a big camera that one slid papers under and pressed a round red button. Oh, but I bet everyone else in the office was keenly jealous! Who wouldn't be?
As an eighteen-year-old, I didn't fully understand the solemnity of my charge. We were a three-woman team -- our new supervisor and a girl named Alice and me. We had an office in the back with a door that we closed behind us. We sat at two desks -- one for the supe and one for Alice and me. And we lugged those powdery books from the shelves in the catacombs of the warehouse back to our little cubby and traced with pencil over the ancient typing that had turned faint from decades of being encased between stiff binders. Ahh, the glamour! Then each of us would take a turn behind the secret curtain and snap pictures for an hour. Over and over and over.
Do that for a day and you will never want to come back. Do it for a year and you will be tempted to hurl yourself out the seventeenth-story window.
Luckily, we had our radio. And cigarettes. It was a putrid, smoky closet that had nice tunes.
AM radio was our suicide repellent. It was all that saved us. KFYR featured all manner of songs; radio was not yet compartmentalized in 1973-74.
We heard songs like this:
That's when I realized Barbra Streisand was actually a really good singer.
Nadia's Theme, we knew, was the theme song for the Young And The Restless. You can call it what you want, but come on.
I wonder if they still use that theme song today. My soap days are long behind me, so I don't know. I suppose Katherine Chancellor is long gone. She'd be about a hundred and ten years old if she were still around.
I told Alice she should use this next song in her wedding. She demurred. I still feel I was right:
I liked this one. I knew BJ Thomas had done the original, but Blue Swede took it to a whole new level:
I guess the bandwagon was filled to the brim with old songs done in new ways:
I never lie on this blog, or try to recreate history. This was a big hit in 1974, and we liked it:
I'm somewhat proud to say that one of the two worst songs of all time was released in 1974. It's a minor conceit, admittedly, but I'm going to claim it:
No offense to my little sister, but these next two songs remind me of her. While I, at age eleven, was grooving to the Beatles, she was stuck with tracks like this:
I won't delineate here why this next song is, to me, synonymous with tornadoes. That's a whole different scary story, but here it is:
We didn't exactly think Jim Stafford was funny, per se, but he was odd. If I was of a mind to look him up, I'd probably find that he had some serious songs. To everyone's dismay, though, he will be remembered for stuff like this:
"Star Baby" was a revelation and taught me that Burton Cummings was a sex-drenched god. But the Guess Who chose to follow that hit up with this one. Nevertheless, we liked it:
There was also this new guy who popped up around 1974. He was British. He could sing. He could definitely sing. He liked feather boas and humongous eyeglasses.
But, boy, could he sing:
Yes, the tunes went on forever in that tiny, choke-filled room, and we tried to remember that there was actual breathing life somewhere far below the seventeenth floor.
This song was to me...in 1974...as I struggled to believe that blue sky existed somewhere...everything:
Since I'm just sitting around with nothing to do; no projects on the horizon, I thought I would continue with my "Number One Song on the Day You Were Born" theme. I love music videos anyway, so it's fun to rediscover some old tunes that make me happy.
So, yes, the year of my birth (05/19/55) does not reflect the best in the annals of music. Granted.
However, to compensate for that, I checked out the charts for May 19 in subsequent years, and found stuff such as this:
Unfortunately, this video is from the "Karate Elvis" years, but it was the only decent one I could find.
See, this is more my speed. Okay, the video isn't from 1958, but let's allow for better sound quality, shall we?
I was a big Everly copier, it seems. My little three-piece band, back in 1964, specialized in Everly covers. Not this one, but still. Beautiful song.
Okay, I do know that the Beatles didn't originate this song. It was Wilbert Harrison. But this is where I first heard the song, and c'mon, it's the Beatles!
Unbeknownst to me, Elvis played a big part in my early development, and I'm not even a big Elvis fan!
However, I do admit, this is one of my favorite Elvis songs. I clearly remember singing along to this, even though I just made up the words as I went, since I didn't quite catch them all:
Now we're talking. This is one of my all-time favorite rock & roll songs. And yes, I was well aware of this Del Shannon song in 1961:
Fast forward to 1964, and this:
Now, of course, we move to the truly important music of my life, this one from 1965. I love this live performance, interspersed with the "music video" the boys did for the song (which is really dumb, when you see Ringo standing over the drum kit, looking embarrassed as hell, and why wouldn't he be, with that setup?)
This song was number one in May of 1966. Here are the Mamas and the Papas lip-synching to Monday Monday.
Can anyone explain to me why the Mamas and Papas songs were mixed so strangely? Any of them you hear, half the sound comes out of one speaker and half out of the other. Who's bright idea was this? Lou Adler's, apparently. Maybe he was deaf in one ear.
1967, the summer of love. Here's an iconic song, and surprisingly, one can only find one performance video of the Rascals, doing "Groovin'". I don't know for sure, but I'd guess this was from the Ed Sullivan Show, because Ed's people did NOT know rock & roll. They focus on the harmonica player almost the whole time! Or the tambourine guy. Basically anyone except Felix, who is the star of the band. Alas. But here is "Groovin'":
I would include 1968's Archie Bell & the Drells ("Hi everybody! We're Archie Bell and the Drells! From Houston, Texas!"), doing "Tighten Up", but the only available video is of horrendous quality, so just sing the song in your head. You remember it.
Ahh, the famous rooftop performance from 1969. The swan song, as it was.
1970, from the Midnight Special. Ha ~ remember that show well. I'd come home on a Friday night, after having a few too many.....Diet Cokes....and flip on my little portable TV, and catch the last acts on the show.
Seriously, along with Felix Cavaliere, one of the greatest voices in rock & roll, Burton Cummings. Here are the Guess Who:
1971, eh? No wonder the seventies sucked for music. This has to be one of my all-time most annoying songs. Maybe it's just that I had to hear it seventy thousand times back then, or maybe it's because it's a really stupid song. No offense, Hoyt. And can you imagine how much the Three Dog Night'ers hate doing this song, as they make their rounds of the various Indian casinos? Of course, money in your pocket cures a lot of heartburn.
And, believe it or not, it goes downhill from there. So, I'm going to stop with 1971.
Oh sure, I could include "The Streak", from 1974, but really, why would I want to? I could include some bombastic Whitney Houston songs. Or Madonna, or Paula Abdul. But why ruin a nice post about music with that kind of stuff?
Well, okay, I do like 1981's selection. No, it's not Madonna or Paula or Mariah. It's someone I actually enjoy listening to.
No, really there is. Just one more. 1976. It's not entirely a performance video, alas. But it is the official video, apparently, And what's wrong with that? I'd like to know. So here I go. Again.