A very special playlist this week. I don’t listen to a ton of 70s music – there’s some OG punk and very early new wave that sneaks in, along with a pinch of classic rock – as I generally skew towards 80s music when listening to the old stuff. But my love of music came from my parents always having music on when I was young. And their parents, too, for that matter. I don’t think any of my grandparents were huge music fans, but as the local radio station was a generic, 70s, Top 40 station, I still heard plenty of that stuff when I spent summers with them. I do have the 70s on 7 plugged into my SiriusXM favorites, and these are all songs I heard while flipping past it over the last week or so.
“Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers. Here’s everything great about AM pop radio in the 1970s: part country, part pop, it was a #1 hit in the spring of 1976. I dare you not to sing along to the chorus.
“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – McFadden & Whitehead. Disco was dying, but its influence remained. This song has one foot in the disco world, one in more straight-forward R&B. #13 in 1979, it’s had a long life, being used as the theme song for several sports teams, in political campaigns, and on the Boogie Nights soundtrack.
“Running On Empty” – Jackson Browne. Browne is one of those artists who did not age well, at least at first. He fell into a certain category of music that was discarded as time passed. While his contemporaries like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac remained popular, if uncool, somehow Browne remained neither. Which is a shame because he has a handful of amazing songs, most notably this one which peaked at #11 in 1978. I always think it’s crazy to get to the end and hear the crowd and realize the track was recorded live at a concert. It has a tightness you would presume came from being carefully worked over in a studio. I’ve reconsidered his music – along with Bob Seger’s – thanks to the War on Drugs references back to their era.
“Sundown” – Gordon Lightfoot. As with the Bellamy Brothers, Lightfoot epitomizes a certain sound, the early 70s folk-pop sound. This is a pretty solid jam – it went to #1 in 1974 – but he has a better song I’ll share in about seven weeks.
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston. The greatest song of the disco era. Not sure anyone in the audience realized how privileged they were to be watching Ms. Houston throw down.