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June 03, 2016

Smooth Sounds of the Seventies: Forgotten Masterpieces

Theory (that I just made up out of my ass):

The seventies were the last gasp of non-niche-market-segmented pop. After the seventies, the tribes would all begin putting up walls between this genre and that.

But in the seventies -- alongside disco, and then post-disco -- there was an awful lot of pop music from a lot of different genres that got wide exposure.

Then everyone hated disco, and music was separated into camps. Classic rock was one such camp, anti pop of all types (except, of course, what are plainly pop songs performed by artists accepted into the format).

And so radio fragmented.

I think the "Jack FM" radio format kinda-sorta attempts to emulate this catholic spirit in playing a Stevie Wonder record after a Steve Miller Band one. (Though they don't just play 70s music, obviously.)

I'm mostly avoiding disco because I just did a post on that. But I smuggled in a couple of disco songs. Because if you're the one objecting, you're the one who really needs to Hear This.

Anyway, here are some awesome songs that have nothing to do with each other except that they're awesome and therefore should all be played on the same station.

What Inspired This List: During various years of college and such, I had to drive long distance. I usually drove at night, because I didn't like traffic. Oh, and because I got up at 3pm anyway.

But as I mentioned on the podcast, I always remember something numinous and almost preternatural about driving long distances at night. When it's just you and the radio and the only noise is subliminally whooshy and bud-bud-bud hypnotic.

Anyway, wherever you are in the country -- or wherever you were, when I was in college -- you could find a station playing these songs, 10, 15, 20 years after their release. Not a classic rock station, usually, but some other general format "hits of the 70s 80s and 90s" station.

I always thought that "It's not officially a long-distance night-time drive until you turn on the radio and Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street is playing."

There's something particularly strange about that song to me, just because of the association with solitude, and quiet, and darkness, and streetlamps passing by, and traffic stripes whipping by beneath your tires.

Something about that song almost says "You're about to be enveloped in mist and wind up on some kind of weird crossing into a shadow reality."

Of course, nothing like that ever happened when "Baker Street" played. But I'm still kind of waiting for it to happen.

"Take it Away" is not a seventies song because it came out in 1982 but it has to be on this list because of the direct address to the person hearing it: "Lonely driver, out on the road, with a million miles to go..."



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posted by Ace at 06:46 PM

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