I went into the 1970’s as a grammar school kid and went out as a married man, so you might say that it was an important decade for me. This week’s Thursday Ten looks at Billboard‘s Number One Single for each year of the decade.
1970 – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon and Garfunkel
Maybe we were a little slower than most, but we discovered slow dancing in the eighth grade, and this was one of the best slow-dance numbers. (The other one was the flip side, “The Only Living Boy In New York.”)
1971 – “Joy To The World” – Three Dog Night
Just could not figure this one out. Three Dog Night was one of my favorite bands; I had their “Captured Live at the Forum” album, and really liked “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and “Out In The Country.” This was a departure from all of that, and not a good one, in my opinion. (Your mileage may vary.) In the Eighties, I saw these guys perform at a corporate function. Kind of sad, really.
1972 – “American Pie” – Don McLean
This wasn’t a bad song; it just got played and analyzed to death. There were two Top 40 AM radio stations in Chicago when I was in high school, and it was not uncommon to switch between both stations whenever the one you had been listening to was playing a song you didn’t like, doing the news, was in the midst of a block of commercials, or running their Weekly Test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Unfortunately, if you didn’t want to hear this, there was a better than average chance that the other station would be playing it as well. I was riding around once, and the station I had on went into their EBS test, so I switched over to the other. It was playing this song. I swear, I switched back to the test.
1973 – “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree” – Tony Orlando and Dawn
Not a bad song. It became popular again when the hostages that were taken in Iran in 1978 were finally released.
1974 – “The Way We Were” – Barbra Streisand
I will grant you this, that Barbra Streisand has a beautiful voice, and has been successful for a long time. That said, this is the depressing theme song to a depressing movie.
1975 – “Love Will Keep Us Together” – Captain & Tennille
The chipper and cheerful Toni Tennille and her husband, the quiet Daryl Dragon (a/k/a The Captain), gained success with this song, written by Neil Sedaka. They had a few more hits and currently can be seen in Lake Tahoe.
1976 – “Disco Lady” – Johnnie Taylor
This was the first cerified platinum single by the RIAA. Johnnie Taylor, “The Philosopher of Soul,” got his start singing with Sam Cooke, and became one of Stax Records’ headline artists. When Stax folded in the Seventies, he switched over to Columbia, for whom this song was recorded.
1977 – “You Light Up My Life” – Debby Boone
The theme from another depressing movie, despite starring the lovely Didi Conn. Debby Boone had a big hit with this and received a Grammy for Best New Artist. Her interpretation of this as an inspirational song, rather than a love song, added a whole new angle to it.
1978 – “Night Fever” – Bee Gees
One of the many songs done by the Bee Gees for the movie Saturday Night Fever. The Gibb boys had been around since the Fifties, although their first album released internationally came out in 1967. I always associated them with songs like “Lonely Days,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” so this was a surprise, but the disco beats and their harmonies went well together.
1979 – “My Sharona” – The Knack
Disco had, in the minds of many, worn out its welcome, and by 1979 the battle cry “DISCO SUCKS!” was heard throughout the land. One of the more outrageous events was Disco Demolition, a promotion at Comiskey Park in Chicago dreamed up by Mike Veeck, son of White Sox owner Bill Veeck, and Steve Dahl, a radio personality who had lost his job when the station he worked for went disco. It didn’t go well, to say the least. (Here’s some film from that evening.) Anyway, New Wave was becoming more popular, as evidenced by “My Sharona” by The Knack, and before long, disco was but a fond memory.
Anyway, there’s your Thursday Ten.