Hello one and all.
After writing about The Carpenters, I decided to compile another "me only" list of some of the best hits by artists who were about keeping it cool, mellow, and easy.
As the decade began, we were still in the throws of The Vietnam War and civil unrest left over from the 1960s. AM radio proved to be quite the diversion, pushing more romantic hits by artists who were about peace, love, harmony and sneaking into station wagons for some quick sex and getting high. The 1970s had something for everyone. Many wanted the hard sounds of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Who and Deep Purple to help vent their righteous rage and aggression against the political system and the unrest we faced in the years of Nixon.
But, for every hard-drinking, bar-brawling, coke-snorting and buzz-needing music lover, there was still a subsection of Tab-drinking, Slinky-playing, toke-loving music lovers who wanted an easy, breezy groove to forget their many burdens and troubles. For them, this 'list was long overdue for us.
Here's a few favorites of mine from the decade I was born into.
10. "You're So Vain" - Carly Simon (1973)
The iconic song by the NYC singer/songwriter has always been an enigma as to who the artist was referring to. Simon never denied that it was about someone she knew or perhaps dated, but kept quite mum about who it was. Speculated were co-singer Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Cat Stevens. It was widely speculated, perhaps strongly that the song was about actor Warren Beatty. Who cares? It's still a timeless gem about the joyous sin of narcissism.
9. "Black Water" - The Doobie Brothers (1975)
This L.A. super-group had many hits in the early 1970s that ran the gamut of hard hits to soft baubles; but a dash of country/bluegrass would give this iconic band their first number one smash in 1975. Years later, when blue-eyed soul singer Michael McDonald joined the group, they would hit again with the disco-tinged "What a Fool Believes" in 1979.
8. "A Horse With No Name" - America (1972)
This trio consisted of three US singer/musicians stationed in the UK. They would have their first ever hit go all the way to number one and earn the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1973. Had its strong roots in folk, but crossed over as an early example of the burgeoning soft rock scene. They would rack up hits including another number one in 1975 with "Sister Golden Hair".
7. "Get Closer" - Seals & Crofts (1976)
This folk rock/pop duo formed in L.A. They had three top 10 hits that all went to number six; which seems an almost hilarious state of dark irony that their previous hits: "Summer Breeze", "Diamond Girl" would all hit no. 6. This one was a sweetly harmonious tune that was aided by a female singer named Carolyn Willis, from the girl group Honey Cone; known for their funky number one smash from 1971, "Want Ads". Both members are part of the Bahá'í faith. Moving on...
6. "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" - England Dan & John Ford Coley (1976)
This other pop/soft rock duo bears an interesting relation to entry no. 7. The late Dan Seals was James Seals' brother. Along with band mate, Dallas native John Colley (Coley), they would rack up hits in the pop and adult contemporary charts. This was their first hit and went all the way to number two for the duo. There was some question about the lyric of the chorus, which was finally revealed as "moving in": "I'm not talkin' 'bout movin' in." That does help in understanding the song which seems to be about following up a first date - or perhaps, a one-night stand.
5. "Calypso" - John Denver (1975)
This country/pop-tinged hit by Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. who named himself after the Colorado city was actually a B-Side to his final number one hit: "I'm Sorry". The song gained massive radio popularity and was one of many two-sided hits in the rock era. The song was a tribute to his friend, Jacques Cousteau, and was named after his research boat, "The Calypso". It was also a rare song that added a yodel as a main hook.
4. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" - Elton John (1975)
A near seven-minute pop opus by Mr. Captain Fantastic that dealt with an autobiographical incident in the iconic star's own life. Lyrics were by Bernie Taupin. John had contemplated suicide as he was engaged to be married to his then-girlfriend. It can be interpreted as John coming to grips with his gay sexuality. It's a personal favorite of mine and should've gone all the way to number one.
3. "If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago (1976)
This brassy, Windy City-based super-group scored hit after hit in the early 1970s and were one of the more successful groups in the adult contemporary market. But, this lilting, longing ballad would be their first ever number one smash. Written and sung by its then-lead singer Peter Cetera, who would score two solo number one smashes on his own after leaving the group. A staple song in many movies, commercials and TV shows.
2. "Make It With You" - Bread (1970)
This L.A. group had their first number one smash in the start of the decade and then disbanded in 1973. Then, reunited in 1976 and scored their final hit with "Lost Without Your Love". Lead singer David Gates wrote and sang and also played every instrument on the track instead of drums. It was their only number one hit.
1. "It's Too Late" - Carole King (1971)
The crowning achievement in the early 1970s. A popular 60s songwriter who gave us massive hits with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin and The Shirelles would score her only number one hit: a double-sided hit with "I Feel The Earth Move" and one of many hits off her multi-diamond bestseller album "Tapestry" which still holds the record for the most successful album by a female solo singer. But...why stop here?
"You've Got a Friend" - James Taylor (1971)
One of King's compositions, which also appeared on the "Tapestry" album would also be a number one smash for this folk/rock/pop/country artist and it's his only number one smash.
"All By Myself" - Eric Carmen (1975)
This Cleveland rocker; a one-time member of The Raspberries, would score a smash hit in the earliest start of 1976 with this slow, somber hit about loss and loneliness. It was also known for incorporating classical music into the song: Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.
"You're No Good" - Linda Ronstadt (1975)
Two versions hit the charts in the 1960s, but with little to no success, but this Tucson native and darling of the pop/rock/country/soft rock genre took her cover hit all the way to number one.
"Don't Stop" - Fleetwood Mac (1977)
One of many iconic hits by this US/UK super-group, which would also usher in an American president: Bill Clinton. A faster hit than most of the entries, but one that is worth mentioning. Finally...
"Dream Weaver" - Gary Wright (1976)
Considered by many as the first synth-pop hit of the decade. This NJ native was a one-time member of the band Spooky Tooth (nice name!). It featured Wright singing and playing the keyboard orchestrations solo with drums by Jim Keltner. Incorporating psychedelia and mysticism into the composition (it was believed to be inspired by George Harrison's music), it would be used in countless movies and television shows, notably the 90s comedy "Wayne's World". An FYI...it's this blogger's all-time favorite 1970s hit (but not for this 'list). Perhaps, it'll make an all-time favorites 'list soon. We'll see.
On that happy note, a possible sequel 'list may be in the works for this one. Until then, keep it groovy, folks.
Next List Pending.