I would argue that the 1970s brought forth a culture like no other - from the music to the clothing to the political movements to economic downturns and more, the 1970s served as a decade of pivotal change around the world, particularly in Western societies and if you're like me, you didn't have the privilege of growing up or simply living during the 1970s. But, if you're also like me, you have family members that did, such as your parents (who most likely grew up during this time) and your grandparents (who were fully functioning adults/parents) and luckily, you have had the opportunity to experience 1970s culture vicariously through your grandparents, who were first-hand witnesses to all of this cultural change - including the emergence of new musical changes and genres.
Here are 25 songs from the 1970s that your grandparents most likely heard on the radio - and they likely either loved them or quickly got tired of them after hearing them played over and over again. But, this is all new to you.
1. Tiny Dancer by Elton John (1971)
Where do I begin with this song? From the introductory arrangement on the piano to the lyrics, this song is one of my all time favorites. I have seriously considered getting a tattoo to pay homage to this song. Surprisingly though, because of the song's long runtime and its lack of a hook, it initially only reached #41 on the U.S. pop chart.
2. Baba O'Riley by The Who (1971)
Otherwise known as "Teenage Wasteland," Baba O'Riley is the quintessential rock and roll song. The opening riff is iconic, and the lyrics can speak to any individual currently encumbered by teenage angst.
3. (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult (1976)
If you're a Saturday Night Live fan, you definitely know this song. Although poked fun at by the cast and most notably Will Ferrell for the extensive use of the cowbell, this song actually has many layers. It possesses a gothic storyline which is carried by the famous guitar line.
4. Do it Again by Steely Dan (1972)
I first encountered this song when I was 8 years old while playing Guitar Hero World Tour. And boy, did I love it.
5. Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads (1977)
This song has perhaps one of the most memorable bass lines of all time, paving the way for a deceptively funky new wave genre that would begin to take off in the 1980s. Listen to Selena Gomez's, Bad Liar. The opening bass line? Yeah, that's from Psycho Killer.
6. Life in the Fast Lane by The Eagles (1976)
This song tells a story, a story of recklessness and living on the edge that many want to adopt into their life.
7. Cocaine by Eric Clapton (1977)
Eric Clapton's version of the song is actually a cover of singer-songwriter J.J. Cale's work. Clapton popularized the song in 1977, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
8. Lola by the Kinks (1970)
I probably like this song so much because it reminds me of my dog, Lola. Not a day would go by where my dad did not serenade my dog with this song. It wasn't until I was about 17 when I realized what this song was about. Have a listen, and you'll see.
9. Band on the Run by Paul McCartney, Wings (1974)
Another one of the songs that I first heard through Guitar Hero. Band on the Run is one of my favorites due to the fact that it is composed in a three-part medley. It's like I'm listening to three different songs in 5 minutes and 13 seconds.
10. Old Man by Neil Young (1972)
Neil Young's smooth voice and lyrical story produces a song that anyone would find pleasure listening to.
11. My Sweet Lord by George Harrison (1970)
The opening guitar chords of this song are literally sweet music to my ears. Harrison produces a song that is both lyrically and musically sound, adding even more to the legacy he left behind.
12. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975)
I first introduced myself to Pink Floyd when I was a sophomore in high school, and I did not stop listening to them for nearly three months. Wish You Were Here is perhaps one of the band's most well-known songs, and according to the band, one of their best songs. The emotional weight it pushes on the listener through its lyrics is intense. I listened to this song a few nights ago and found myself crying in the middle of it.
13. Roxanne by The Police (1978)
When I got an iPod Touch in 2007, my dad was eager to put new music on it. This was the time when one would physically put CDs into their computer and download songs into iTunes. The only song I remember from this playlist my dad made for me was Roxanne, and it was my absolute favorite. Of course, at the time of listening, I was completely unaware that the song was about a man who falls in love with a prostitute.
14. Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band (1976)
This song's psychedelic, mellow and dreamy feel is what makes it so good. When I hear this song, I immediately think, "70s."
15. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (1977)
How could I not include Fleetwood Mac on this list? Most of us know this song.
16. Feel Flows by The Beach Boys (1971)
Let's talk about psychedelic. This song is extremely trippy and is the exact opposite of what I expect when I think of The Beach Boys. The song wasn't a single and didn't get a lot of attention, but it did find a new audience after the release of Almost Famous (written by Cameron Crowe) in 2000.
17. That's the Way by Led Zeppelin (1970)
Moving away from the hard rock genre, this Zeppelin song is acoustic in nature and is a ballad, telling a story of the struggles of a young boy when facing his parents. It is rather moving, to say the least.
18. Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin (1970)
This is actually a cover recorded by Janis Joplin in 1970. She recorded the song for her album, Pearl, just a few days before her death. Her version of the song ranked to number 148 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
19. Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)
This is just a fun song to sing along to in the car with your family on a road trip. Or even by yourself when you're driving home. It's upbeat rhythm and simple lyrics make this one of my favorite 70s songs.
20. Angie by the Rolling Stones (1973)
This acoustic driven ballad characterizes the end of a romance. Although not typical of their normal sound, the song shot up to the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Rumor has it that the song was about David Bowie's wife, Angie.