Monday’s Music Moves Me: Billboard’s Top Singles, 1970-1979

This week, our guest conductor Mary asked us to pick a decade and build a playlist of songs from that decade. I’m choosing the 1970’s, because it so happens that I had built one as one of my first blog entries, way back in 2012. What follows is that post, prettied up and reformatted. The videos that make up the list were originally inserted into the playlist separately, so I put them into a playlist, for one thing. I might change some of the text, too. Here’s how I started it originally:

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. (I’ve made my peace with this one since that was written.)

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. (This was the basis for my "EBS Specials.")

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. (Sadly, Toni and Daryl separated later, and he died in January 2019. May he rest in peace.)

1976 – “Disco Lady” – Johnnie Taylor: This was the first single cerified Platinum 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. (I did a Battle of the Bands on this back in February 2018, and the original beat Debby’s, but not by much.)

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 Night, 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 video 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 (not so) fond memory.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 12, 2020. Happy Columbus Day!

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Cathy, Alana, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.

24 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me: Billboard’s Top Singles, 1970-1979

  1. Only you, John…and I mean this in a admiring way – could do a playlist like this, complete with Disco Demolition Night (this disco fan remembers it well, although I was living in Kansas at the time!) and “You Light Up My Life’, my husband’s almost all time most hated song. (He didn’t like disco, either.) I loved this playlist! And please don’t consider it plagiarism when I feature The Only Living Boy in New York on my blog next Monday, because I was already planning to do a song from the Bridge over Troubled Waters album; was just unsure which one. For me, by the way, the 70’s started in high school and ended with my husband getting ready to end his 4 year tour with the Air Force. Interesting decade for sure.

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  2. John,

    Like you I was elementary school and came out married before the 80s rolled in. I was in between my junior and senior years of high school June 1979. The 70s was a magical era for mewsic packed with lots of good memories. Your playlist is a good sample of what I listened to more than 40 years ago. The passing of time really blows my mind sometimes. Captain and Tennille was a favorite during our courtship days. Their bubble gum pop is indeed happy mewsic mostly. Thanks for sharing the dance floor with the 4M gang. Your playlist is excellent, my friend!

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  3. Woah! Aren’t you a wealth of knowledge today! I like this format with your input as it highlights the artists and the era. I saw Three Dog Night in 2019 and they were great! These older groups that keep playing deserve a lot of credit.

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    1. A lot of those old groups are down to their last original member, but they still sound the same. Three Dog Night lost Chuck Negron (one of the singers) and Jimmy Witherspoon (keyboards) but the others are still going. Same with America: Dan Peek is gone, but Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley are still at it.

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  4. I forgot how major disco was when it went burning to the ground. Too bad that doesn’t happen with so many of the songs today as they all sound the same. I didn’t know Three Dog Night did corporate gigs but you know it is about money. I enjoyed all the songs you have here but I know I would pick songs from the 80s. ABBA still had a couple of albums in the early 80s. Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, ZZ Top, Tears for Fears, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Linda Ronstadt, The Cars, there are many. I started the 80s still in high school being badly bullied but having a home life that saved me. It ended with my dad, dead, my mom in tatters, my brother being led by his first wife who caused major chaos in the family and knowing the home I grew up in would be gone. I was strong enough to help my mom through this plus finish university and find some of my best friends that I have to this day., ,

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    1. When Three Dog Night did the corporate gig, they had fallen off the charts and the oldies circuit hadn’t kicked into gear. I went to work for the company that had the event shortly thereafter, and stayed there for 20 years…

      That’s quite a collection of bands you have listed, by the way. Does any of their music bring back sad memories of that time?

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  5. What a great representation of the era. The BeeGees emerge as timeless they strangely seem to be able to slip into any genra even decade even fresh today.
    I was unaware of the disco riots? Living in England and coping with a young family it past me by. Having read your information on the incident I am shocked that this was done in the name of music…. Then again I doubt it was just about disco.

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    1. It was just the one event, and it wasn’t actually a riot, just a bunch of rowdy kids led by a popular disk jockey, and you’re right: the DJ in question had lost his job with one radio station who changed their format to disco (and of course the reason he lost it was because he was badmouthing the station while he was still working there, on the air no less). He went to his new station and kept up the badmouthing, then came up with the idea for blowing up disco records… there’s a link to the Wikipedia article in the post that tells the whole sordid tale.

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