Monday, May 14, 2007

Music From The 70's - An Informal Reveiw Of Some Of My Favorites

I have read that the 1970's were a pivotal decade, sending American culture in a new direction. The decade started with the "Smiley Face" stickers and bubblegum music, and took off from there, in several different directions. Here are some of my favorite hits from that decade:

1) "Popcorn"-

This song was music played on the Moog Synthesizer, an instrument that became popular in the late "60's. It was composed by Gershon Kingsley and first released in 1969, although it was the band "Hot Butter" that really made it a hit in 1972. "Hot Butter" was mostly just Stan Free playing the synthesizer. I loved it because it really does sound like popcorn; it's catchy and fun.

2) "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"-

This was originally a South African Zulu folk song, and was made a hit in the U.S. by the Tokens in 1961. It was remade in 1972 by Robert John, which is the version I liked best. It was actually a big hit in South Africa when it was recorded by Solomon Linda in 1939, who had written it based on an experience he had chasing lions who were stalking his family's cows. This is a catchy tune too, although some of the words can be confusing to some people.

3) "Stairway to Heaven"-

This Led Zeppelin song, from 1971, was everyone's favorite in my school. Actually it has been the most requested song ever on FM stations, as well as the most popular sheet music in rock and roll, selling over a million copies. It was written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, and is eight minutes long. It was never released as a single.

4) "Lady Marmalade"-

This was a song about prostitutes in New Orleans in the French
Quarter (red-light district), and was recorded by Patti Labelle in 1974. It was written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan and became their biggest hit. I couldn't understand a lot of the words but I was thrilled to be able to understand the French ones "Voulez-vouz coucher avec moi, ce soir? (do you want to go to bed with me tonight?)"

5) "I am Woman"-

This song came out in 1972. Helen Reddy wrote lyrics and Ray Burton changed some of them to fit into the music he wrote for it. They were both Australians. Feminism was big in the "70's and this became one of the leading feminist anthems. I found it affirming and exciting.

6) "Riders on the Storm"-

This song, from 1971, was Jim Morrison's last, shortly before his death. The effect of rain in this song was from the electric piano. I think the piano solo was the best part of the whole song, but it was partly cut out to shorten the song for AM radio. This is my favorite song of all time.

The 1970's were good years for music. There was lots of variety, everything from disco to feminist and protest songs, as well as darker, more "adult" songs. . There was music to please everyone. It is unfortunate that this music doesn't get played much any more, except for the really big hits. A lot of lesser-known 1970's music would be great to hear again.

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