Sunday, December 21, 2008

1970s Greatest Songs As Chosen By Me -- Part 1

Even though I'm a huge fan of 1970s music, I was more a child of the 1980s. I was born in '72 and was 7 when 1980 rolled around, so the decade was a little before my coming of age. Even though I may have been way behind the times, I can still see where some music is timeless despite the times that shaped me.

As a kid, I didn't get Bob Seger. The adults around me loved his music, but I couldn't grasp why. OK, some of his stuff was decent: "Rock & Roll Never Forgets" and "Katmandu" had a good beat, but Kenny Rogers killed "We've Got Tonight" and Tom Cruise killed "Old Time Rock & Roll" by dancing around in his underwear to it in Risky Business. "Turn the Page" and "Main Street" were really slow for me as a teenager and I just couldn't get "Night Moves" at all. The music was OK, but I didn't understand then why Seger was so often claimed as one of the best American singers and songwriters.

Yet here I am today, saying that "Night Moves" would be one of the best songs of the 1970s. It seems something happened to me since I was 13 years old. I grew up, and my experience since then has given me a lot of insight I couldn't have possibly understood before becoming an adult, with all of its demands and responsibilities. In fact, that's part of what Seger was singing about in the song: he is remembering back to being 16 years old.

In the song, the "narrator" recounts how he used to learn about love with his girlfriend in the backseat of his '60 Chevy ("out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy"). He mentions that he and his girl were both clumsy and naive and just taking advantage of the chance to learn, and neither of them cared. It's a great description about that time in life where a person is on the brink of maturity; still carrying a sense of innocence while hoping to learn and trying not to screw it up. What makes the song better is that in the final verse, Seger explains how he's now grown up and just hearing a song from that summer takes him back to that time. The realization that 16 was half a lifetime ago when you're in your 30s can be pretty hard.

I didn't understand that part when I was a teen. I do now, which is why the song is timeless to me.

Normally, I'd provide a link to download the MP3, but it appears this song isn't available in that format on either iTunes or Amazon. So, if you'd like to get a hold of the tune, here's a link to Seger's album (in CD format):

Whether you get it here or have it already, take a listen and see if you don't agree that it's a classic.
Greatest Songs of the 1970s, My Personal Choice

One of these days, I'm going to make that CD I've been threatening to put together for years: my picks for the Greatest songs of the 1970s. Each song on that disc would be something I could listen to over and over again and never get tired of.

Even a hardcore 70s music fan will get tired of listening to stuff occasionally. On CDs or MP3 players, I've found myself hitting the NEXT button on songs that I once wouldn't ever pass by...just like the way I once lifted the needle to a different track on the album, switched the program on an 8-track or hit the "fast forward" button on a cassette player. Even after more than 30 years, there are some songs that have aged well and still stand out despite the lapse of time.

Many of us grew up listening to hit radio. The format was pretty simple: play the biggest hits -- usually about 12-20 songs over and over again, with occasional "recurrents" (hits from a few months ago), a couple of new songs as a test to see if listeners like them, and the sparse "oldies" (songs that are more than 6 months old) to fill extra time between commercial breaks and station IDs. While many listeners grew tired of the repetition and switched to more progressive and/or adult formats, the regular listener began to develop favorites that would linger.

For some of those songs, hearing them every 2 or 3 hours on the radio wasn't enough; they needed to buy the single or album and keep on playing it. As a kid, shortly after seeing the movie Grease with my family in the theater, I remember how cool it was to hear one of the songs from that movie on the radio. The constant playing went the other way, too: I remember how I used to hear "In the Navy" all the time. My father -- who was then serving aboard the USS Plymouth Rock -- couldn't stand the song and wouldn't explain to me why he detested it. At the time I was a kid and saw the Village People as a group of guys who dressed up in costumes and sang. As an adult, I eventually realized that Dad understood a lot more about the Village People than I could at that age (plus, there's that whole "These guys are making a mockery of what I do for a living" angle). That said, I still like the song.

Now that I've introduced my concept of a "70s Greatest Hits as determined by ME" I will share some of the songs here in this blog. They won't necessarily be the biggest hits in terms of chart action or well-recieved by critics and fans; the songs I pick will be tunes that -- after decades -- still resonate with me in some way. Some of the songs will be obvious, and others might come as a total surprise. The best part of the project is that it will have an element of myself in it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changes to My Site

Regular visitors to my website will soon see some additional info if they haven't noticed yet.

Right now, I am working to add Top 40 LP info from 1970-'79 to the site. Up to right now, I've gotten info for artists beginning with A-E online and will add more in the next few days. I'm writing all the HTML code out myself and that takes a while; sorry, but I'm working as fast as my fingers will allow. Once the info has been added, I'll incorporate the LP section of the site into the main one focusing on hit singles.

At the same time, I am also linking the pages. Once finished, a visitor checking out an artist's hit singles can click a link below the table and see that artist's hit LPs as well...and vice versa. Also, I am working to add links to iTunes and Amazon that will allow fans to get the music when available, either by mail or immediate download.

While I'm on the subject of Amazon and iTunes, I'd like to share a little something I've noticed: while some of the out-of-print and "collectible" CDs have gotten a little pricey, many of the albums we enjoyed all those years ago can be picked up for a very reasonable price. For less than $10, most can be dlivered to your door, and if you find a seller with several discs, the savings are tremendous. Not only that, but some of those "collectible" CDs that are priced a lot higher are often available through iTunes or even Amazon as MP3 downloads for around $10 and can be burned to a blank CD for your listening pleasure. What a great invention the World Wide Web has been...