Sunday, December 21, 2008

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.

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