Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

The Soundtrack of My Life – The 70s

guitar-music

My local colleague Arlee Bird from Tossing It Out broached a meme a few years back that certainly intrigued:

The Soundtrack of My Life

As Arlee put it, “A few weeks ago a piece was posted by Jessica, the Modern Day Drifter, on her  Country Girl blog about The Soundtrack To Your Life.  She proposed the following”:

What would be the soundtrack to your life? What songs would be included that can sum up past events as well as things in the present?

Made an impression. So, I decided to follow suit with one of my own. Copying the idea, I know. But then again, I have no shame. 😉 So I will accept the Modern Day Drifter’s challenge from awhile back, care of Arlee and with thanks, and see where it takes me. The high points for sure, but many will be skipped. With one caveat. I’ll break it into decades. This then the challenging period I’d soon learn to survive. The 1970s.


tighter, tighter
Label: Roulette ‎– R-7076
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1970
Genre: Pop
Charted: #7 US

The 60s had ticked away for me in the midst of my first year in the cauldron known as high school. In the most unanticipated predicament, too. Falling for a girl…hard. She a year ahead of me, my sophomore status helped not one bit. “The heart wants what the heart wants.” By summer, she worked the snack stand by South Gate Park’s swim pool. I never missed a shift of hers. And Alive and Kicking’s Tighter, Tighter played endlessly that season over the stand’s radio.

It's A Shame - The Spinners 45

Label: V.I.P. – V-25057
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1970
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #14 (US), #3 (US Soul)

When summer ended and my junior year began, I hadn’t lost focus. Now a senior, the girl of my dreams still within reach (or so the lovesick tell themselves). Especially at those school-sanctioned social events…Friday dances. Nothing got the attending student body roused like The Spinners’ It’s a Shame that year. The opening guitar chords had heads bobbin’ and the guys movin’ to ask a girl for a dance. Her hand came up to meet mine and we walked out on to the girl’s gym floor. Pure bliss.

It's Too Late

Label: Ode Records – Ode-66015
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1971
Genre: Pop
Charted: #1 (US)

Still, nothing gobsmacked like a dream shot down. A rite of passage for every teen, seemingly. The girl I crushed on since 10th grade in her graduating year, and any hopes of the heart were to die an ugly death surely as some priest taking a header out of a window in Georgetown. A broken heart and lower jaw (wired care of an auto accident1) happened that Spring. Carole King’s It’s Too Late rung in these ears for months afterward.

Riders on the storm

Label: Elektra ‎– EKS-45738
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1971
Genre: Rock
Charted: #14 (US)

As anxiety and accident prone as those cauldron-era experiences could be, it was the music that seemed to hold me and them together. Couldn’t be helped that it’d mold me, or at least cause me to reflect. Riders On The Storm remains one of the most noirish, moody tunes of this hard decade. Eerily, The Doors’ strain came over many a car radio late at night while I or someone else drove to or from some party or dance, thereafter.

inner city blues

Label: Tamla ‎– T 54209F
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1971
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #9 (US), #1 (Soul)

You find solace with your friends I learned then. Heart broken? Well, they’re there to catch you when you fall. Getting that crumpled ’63 Ford Falcon station wagon of mine working again, and the “grillwork” removed  from my mended jaw, the symbols of recovery. Returned to Marvin Gaye once more in the transition. Inner City Blues struck a chord amongst us growing restless from what we experienced first-hand.

first time ever I saw your face

Label: Atlantic ‎– OS 13054
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1972
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #1 (US), #1 (Soul)

Strange to finally be a heady high school senior when it came time. Truly, a false summit if there ever was one. But, you milk it for what it’s worth. Began to see a someone from another class in the Fall of ’71. Maybe there was life after all. Saw Play Misty For Me as a first date (which should have been a warning). Because of all that, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack became this new couple’s theme song.

Elton_John_-_Rocket_Man

Label: UNI Records ‎– 55328
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1972
Genre: Rock
Charted: #6 (US)

A “young” seventeen was I in my final high school year when this made its way to the airwaves. My old crush perhaps not entirely out of my system, but new friends from the junior (and even sophomore) class bred new situations. Especially when we all piled back into my Falcon and headed to Huntington Beach almost every weekend. Elton John’s Rocket Man setting the stage for a new phase with that new girlfriend in tow.

beginnings

Label: Columbia ‎– 4724
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album cut
Released: 1969
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Charted: #7 (US)

Opted to skip my prom, having enough of all but a few of the other 574 students in my grade. Skirted most of that lot by final semester. Now, “Grad Nite” I wasn’t about to miss. My girlfriend and I lost ourselves among the multitude of post-twelfth graders wandering the wee hours in Disneyland Park. By 5 AM, like many of the newly ex-high-schoolers, we drifted back toward the park’s entrance of Main Street U.S.A. There, Chicago’s Beginnings prophetically serenaded us.

natural high

Label: London ‎– 45-1046
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1973
Genre: Soul
Charted: #10 (US), #1 R&B

Except for a lucky few, high school romances don’t last. Only took a summer, and me headed for junior college in the South Bay, for that to take hold. Then again, out of high school, all bets were off. Still didn’t know what I wanted, either. In education or relationships. Maybe Bloodstone’s smoldering Natural High was appropriate for the time, and the young woman I became involved with. Don’t ask me to explain it.

marvin-gaye-distant-lover-tamlaLabel: Tamla ‎– T 54241F
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1973
Genre: Soul
Charted: #23 as the B-side to “Come Get To This” (US)

Whatever music entered my life in this era became embedded within relationships (and my hormones). It’s only natural, I guess. Mom reluctantly saw it that way (though she’d hoped my studying should center more on school books than you-know-who, or what). On the other hand, Grandma hated the girl who summoned my attention and had me mix-taping Marvin Gaye’s Distant Lover (off his Let’s Get It On LP) onto many a cassette.

Love's Theme

Label: 20th Century Records ‎– TC 2069
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1973
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #1 (US), #10 (Soul)

Did I mention the young lady in question was a music major? No? She was, and played the French Horn, too. Why I always pick out that instrument in whatever music I’ve playing to this very day. Another reason I returned to the pop instrumentals of my youth. She and I stretched into 1974 with Barry White & The Love Unlimited Orchestra’s Love’s Theme playing. I’d follow her to L.A.C.C.2, as well. Grades? What grades?

redbone - come and get your love

Label: Epic ‎– 11035
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1973
Genre: Rock
Charted: #5 (US, 1974)

Four decades before Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy keyed off of this 1974 hit single by the Native American rock band Redbone3, Come and Get Your Love was danced4, and debated, by us two (who’d stayed together as a couple for the longest in both our collective young lives). No matter how you categorize, the tune played countless across the various radio stations inhabiting the L.A. basin then. We’d not last near as long.

Touch

Label: ABC Records ‎– ABCD-922
Format: Vinyl, LP
Released: 1975
Genre: Jazz, Jazz Fusion
Charted: Album cut played on Jazz stations

Exposure to more and more genres (in movies or music) during this era put me back in touch with the jazz I’d been introduced to in the 60s. This time with Jazz Fusion since it hit upon various aspects of funk, rhythm and blues, and the amplified effects of rock music already in my head. Saxophonist John Klemmer‘s 1975 album, and its lead track, Touch, became another of the distinctive melodies to my 70s existence5.

10cc_-_I'm_Not_in_Love_single_front_cover

Label: Mercury ‎– 73678
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1975
Genre: Soft Rock
Charted: #7 (US)

Again, hitting on another Guardians of the Galaxy affixed itself to last year, 10cc’s I’m Not in Love. My friend Jeff Vaca said it best awhile back concerning their hit, this time, and what my girlfriend and I were headed toward: “… their crowning moment as a quartet was this hit from the summer of 1975, which was all over the radio around the same time that a certain Great White Shark was tearing up the good citizens of Amity Island.”

Tom-Scott-New-York-Connecti-519560

Label: Ode Records ‎– SP 77033
Format: Vinyl, LP
Released: 1975
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Charted: album cut also played on jazz stations

This period of transition with my music habits continued with my introduction to composer-arranger, west coast jazz/jazz fusionist, and saxophonist, Tom Scott. His “New York Connection” album was one of the primary in the Jazz Fusion category I ever owned, and later prized. Emblematic of the music tide coming in that absorbed countless listening hours to come in the years ahead, Time and Love typified the new sound.

i'm not in love - dee dee sharp

Label: TSOP ‎– ZS8 4778
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1976
Genre: Soul
Charted: #62 (US)

Echoing something already in this accompaniment occurred after the decade’s half-way point. Along with a breakup. As enjoyably downbeat as the original tune could be, I learned to marry it with Dee Dee Sharp‘s 1976 cover of I’m Not in Love to bring me back up. Her’s starts deceptively slow, but it builds in resonance, vocal power, and defiance by the song’s end. Exactly what I gleamed one had to do and pull through the 70s.

sara smile

Label: RCA Victor ‎– PB-10530
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1976
Genre: Latin, Pop, Soul
Charted: #4 (US), #23 (Soul)

Everyone gets knocked down. Just have to learn to get up, that’s all. Quit a job screwing me over and finally began to pay attention at school would be my start for the Bicentennial Year. “Better late than never.”, mom said. Embarked as a projectionist in the movie theater of my youth, with a new college girlfriend, to boot. Remarkable what fresh starts do. Sara Smiles, by Hall and Oates, punctuated the uplift. Even if temporary.

As_Single

Label: Tamla ‎– T 54291F
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1977
Genre: Pop, Rock
Charted: #36 (US Pop & Soul)

Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life album registered as few others. For me and those I called friends. Though I wasn’t aware of it, As (the song) prophetically set out what lay ahead with its lyrics:

We all know sometimes life's hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet you life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed
so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it
You're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell

No Mystery_Return To Forever

Label: Polydor ‎– PD 6512
Format: Vinyl, LP, album
Released: 1975 (discovered in ’77)
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Charted: album cut played on Jazz stations

The mixture of jazz improvisation with the power and rhythms of rock were intoxicating, and a little maddening. Jazz Rock likely hit the epitome with my discovery of Return to Forever, care of founder Chick Corea. Here was where I discovered my edge with regard to Jazz Fusion, too. Listening to No Mystery‘s lead track somehow reached down to tear at my heart, even as the innovative jam registered with my ears and head.

dust in the wind

Label: Kirshner ‎– ZS8 4274
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1978
Genre: Rock
Charted: #6 (US)

Reaching the point of this turbulent decade that forever characterized it is difficult. Even on review. Kansas’ song, Dust in the Wind, was released that January. Hadn’t gave thought to it, or its lyrics, before. Till it played on the radio as I drove home from St. Francis Medical Center in March ’78 — after I learned 53 years were all the woman who bore me and my brother would ever get. Though I wanted desperately to change or turn off that damn thing, just couldn’t.

Noel Pointer - Hold On

Label: United Artist Records ‎– UA-LA848-H
Format: Vinyl, LP
Released: 1978
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Charted: album cut

During this most painful time, I found surprising solace listening to a cover song by Noel Pointer. When the black was lifted, that is. Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman, now solely an instrumental under the jazz violinist’s interpretation, remains a different piece entirely. Without obliterating Wonder’s infused feathery melody, one that masked its lyrics’ serious tone. Discovered music’s healing and collaborative nature then as it unknowingly helped me through it all.

Angie LP Cover

Label: GRP ‎– GRP 99801
Format: Vinyl, LP
Released: 1978
Genre: Jazz
Charted: album cut

Whatever I am today, it’s the sum of what occurred in this formative year. The good and the bad, having launched into the lost decade ahead of me. Still in my Jazz Fusion phase, yet very much near the R&B stylings of the day. The tumultuous relationship I’d gotten myself into after mom’s death, like the year, coming to close. Angela Bofill6 debut album, and especially her doleful Summer Days track, forever imprinted the time.

Feels_So_Good

Label: A&M ‎Records – SP-4658
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Released: 1977
Genre: Jazz, Pop
Charted: #4 (US)

By now I wanted out of the 70s, though the decade was far from done with me. Little wonder I got involved with She-who-must-not-be-mentioned. Mom would’ve rung all sorts of alarm bells for what I was getting myself into. But she was no longer with us, and I was thinking with the wrong head, anyway. Typical. The new steady, and Chuck Mangione’s jazz piece (an unexpected pop hit), Feels So Good. Know it wouldn’t by the end.

Fire - Pointer Sisters

Label: Planet Records – P-45901
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1979
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #2 (US)

The simmering single that landed early in ’79, The Pointer Sisters’ stellar cover of the Bruce Springsteen song Fire, exemplified what now enveloped.

Romeo and Juliet, Samson and Delilah
Baby you can bet
Their love they didn't deny.

Exactly what happened here. “Burning my soul, outta control”

dan-fogelberg-longer-epic-3

Label: Epic ‎– 9-50824
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1979
Genre: Classical, Pop
Charted: #2 (US)

For the period I always refer to as the one I “survived”, what does it say that this soundtrack for the 70s concludes with Dan Fogelberg’s Longer? The love ballad the artist jokingly described as “…the song that put me on the elevators.” Perhaps, it’s reflective to what I felt toward the woman by my side as the era came to a close. But likely it’s more indicative than that. To what happened heart-wise across the ten years quickly receding in my rearview mirror.

Soundtrack of My Life series

  1. My 1963 Ford Falcon station wagon hit by a 1935 Pontiac sedan after a Spring high school gymnastics event one Thursday evening. What can I say? L.A. the place for memorable meetings. 
  2. The same college where Clint Eastwood, Cindy Williams, Robert Vaughn and other celebrities had attended. 
  3. The group is still going strong and played a concert a few miles east of where I live just last year. 
  4. Dancing cut short in ’74 by my broken ankle, which came byway of a one-on-one basketball pickup game against my younger brother. His fault, though he still doesn’t think so. 
  5.  I’d also contend Touch along with Marvin Gaye‘s Let’s Get It On were the preeminent “making out” albums for the decade [but since my wife reads this blog, I’ll leave it at that]. 
  6. Hauntingly, Angie bore a remarkable resemblance to my mother in her youth. 
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14 Responses to “The Soundtrack of My Life – The 70s”

  1. Cindy Bruchman

    Wow. You are so brave! What touches me most about your awesome post, Michael, are the nuances and details that cling from a time and that’s what we really remember–music always has us transported to relive the moment. I love this project you’ve “stolen” and your songs. “It’s too Late”, The French Horn, “Dust in the Wind”, all heartfelt examples. Well done! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Arlee Bird

    Some very interesting choices. I was definitely diverging off into more country rock, southern rock, and prog rock during the 70’s, but some of your picks really resonate with me.

    Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On would probably rank in my top 10 of all time best albums. Dan Fogelberg holds special memories for me as he was my first wife’s musical favorite to the point that we named our son Daniel.

    Another great installment of this series. Some great musical memories here.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Quite a period of time for music, as you know, Lee. Rock really exploded into some wonderful variants. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On one of the all-time greats, for sure. Fine memory for your son. Thanks so much, my friend.

      Like

      Reply
  3. The Soundtrack of My Life – The 90s | It Rains... You Get Wet

    […] You don’t get to chose your “relatives by marriage”, they’re bequeath in the union. I know my brother received a great set years before. Would I? Turns out I did, but didn’t know it at the time. My adversarial relationship with my mother-in-law shading early opinion. Eerie her parents loved Al Green, though. His Love and Happiness track playing on their stereo many times when we visited (hauntingly reminding moi of my college days). […]

    Like

    Reply
  4. kelleepratt

    Love this series SO much! I think the 70’s were pretty pivotal in my musical influence. Fleetwood Mac, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Bee Gees, Elton John, James Taylor, the Eagles, Donna Summer, KC and The Sunshine Band… I REALLY like the singer songwriters of this decade but because I gotta shake my groove thang, I also love the disco/funk band too! Wonderful journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Great to have you chime in for the 70s, Kellee! What a decade! Certainly, for both of us as it resounded. Love the groups you’ve assembled. Couldn’t have a more definitive number for the Me Decade, that’s for sure. So many memories. Many thanks for joining in on this. Perhaps, this inspires you to post something similar? I know I’d look forward to it. Many thanks, as always, my friend. 😀

      Like

      Reply
  5. Debbie D.

    Quite the tumultuous decade for you! It looks like we’re the same age. 🙂 Sorry you had so many heartbreaks. That wired jaw must have been uncomfortable, as well. I’m playing catch up here and will read the rest of your posts soon. Love the music! So many memories, both good and bad, happy and sad. Awesome series!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Yeah, “tumultuous” certainly describes the period, Debbie. And the thing I most hated about my “grillwork” then was its tendency to cut the inside of my mouth (c/o my “wired” lower gum). Thanks so much for the kind words and the linkage, my friend. Much appreciated. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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