Sunday, May 12, 2013
Music Sunday: The 1971 Edition
Last week, because I had been doing some research into the 1970s, I shared some of the music that came out the year I graduated high school. This week, since I'm still stuck in the Seventies in my research, I thought I'd skip back a few years from high school and share some of the music that came out in 1971, the year I graduated from junior high.
This is going to be tricky. I sat down and did a little research and started making a list of all the music that I really liked that came out in '71. Turns out, it's a long, long list. 1971 was a really good year for music, at least as far as I'm concerned. Oh, there were some clunkers and some schmaltz. If you're of that time, as I am, you'll remember "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and "Knock Three Times", both by Tony Orlando and Dawn, for example, which were omnipresent on the radio. But the good (or at least what I liked) far outweighed the bad.
What this means is that I'm going to have a difficult time choosing what to share here today.
A few songs will be eliminated simply because I've shared them here before: "Stairway to Heaven", by Led Zeppelin and "Behind Blue Eyes", by The Who (which I'm really tempted to share again anyway, because it is brilliant, but I won't) are just two of those. But that still leaves me with a long list of good music that I'd really like to share.
I think I need to start with Janis Joplin's version of "Me and Bobby McGee", even though I'm fairly sure I've shared it here before, too. This song, which was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, has been recorded by just about everyone in the music business over the years, but this is the definitive version, I think. It was recorded in 1970, shortly before Joplin died, but it wasn't released until 1971:
Another song from 1971 that I've always loved (and which I also might have shared before) is The Doors' "Riders on the Storm". Legend has it that it entered the Billboard Hot 100 on the day that Jim Morrison Died, July 3, 1971, and that it was the last song the four members of the band recorded together. I don't know how true any of that is. Either way, here it is:
In 1971, Elton John released the album "Madman Across the Water". It's a good album, but my favorite song among all the good songs it includes is "Tiny Dancer" which, incidentally, was part of "Almost Famous", a film I like a lot, too. Here is a live performance of "Tiny Dancer" from the year the song and the album were released:
Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" was a protest song that didn't sound like a protest song, musically speaking. It was reportedly inspired by police brutality witnessed by one of the song's writers, Reynaldo Benson, a member of The Four Tops, at an anti-war rally in Berkeley in 1969. Benson, Al Cleveland, and Gaye were credited with writing the song, which was named the fourth greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 and again in 2011. Here is a live performance of the song:
And here is another protest song, from what might be an unexpected source, Paul Revere and the Raiders. "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)", which was first recorded in 1959 by Marvin Rainwater as "The Pale Faced Indian" and was written by John D. Loudermilk, memorializes the "Trail of Tears", the forced relocation of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole peoples from Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama to Oklahoma after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This song spent a week at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July, 1971:
Here, as a matter of historical interest and to show where the Raiders' song came from, is the Marvin Rainwater version:
This version didn't get much notice, but a 1968 cover by Don Fardon, who is English, managed to reach number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is, as you can see, very much like the later version by the Raiders, although some of the lyrics are different from both the earlier and later versions:
And, yes, that is what is known as a tangent. It's interesting, however, to see the evolution of what is essentially the same song through the years.
To bring it back to 1971, which was where we started, here is Led Zeppelin in a live performance of "Rock and Roll", which was released as a single in 1972 but was released on their fourth album in 1971: