Sunday, May 05, 2013

Music Sunday: The 1974 Edition

I've been researching in the 1970s the past few days, and so I thought it might be time for some '70s music. '70s music kind of has a bad reputation in some circles because it was the decade of disco. It almost seems like that should be capitalized. Decade of Disco. With some echoes in there, or something, maybe a little reverb. And I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of disco.

On the other hand, a lot of non-disco music also came out in the '70s. The music of that decade was at least a diverse as that of any other decade. And a lot of music came from the decade. So, I decided to focus on 1974, the year I graduated from high school.

Yes. I know. I'm old. Still...

The first song I want to share was out early in the year, but the album (remember those) it was on, "Grievous Angel", by Gram Parsons, came out several months after Parsons's death. Pity. This song, "Las Vegas" (sometimes billed as "Ooooo, Las Vegas"), was co-written by Parsons and British musician Ric Grech, who played bass with Blind Faith, among other acts. It's a really good song, at least in my opinion. I wish Gram Parsons had stayed around long enough to make more music. I didn't know this song when it came out, but I've loved it ever since the first time I heard it:

Also out in January of 1970 was Gordon Lightfoot's album "Sundown". The album and the title song both reached number one on the charts in the United States, as did the second single from the album, "Carefree Highway". Both songs are good, each different from one another in theme.

Here is a live performance of "Sundown" from 1974:

And here is "Carefree Highway". Completely different vibe:

The Eagles had an album out in 1974, "On the Border", which included such hits as "Already Gone" and "Best of My Love". But there's another song on the album that I like at lot. This live performance of "James Dean" comes from the band's performance at California Jam on April 6, 1974:

"Already Gone", the first release from the album, went to number 32 on the US charts and "Best of My Love" was the band's first number one single. "James Dean", on the other hand, which was the second single released from "On the Border", only made it to number 77.

So far, the songs I've shared today come from similar roots. Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" is farther down the road into a different part of the 70s music scene. From the album "Caribou", this is one of my favorite Elton John songs, not least because of the absolutely amazing live performance I saw of it at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 1975. When the song began, it was still light. But the song was long enough that night that by the time it ended the sun had gone down and it was completely dark. Then, just as the last chord faded out, the stadium lights all came on. It was beautiful. This clip is not from that show, but from a show at Wembley stadium in London in 1984. I tried to find a clip from the show I went to, but if it exists, I couldn't find it.

And now for a little novelty...Ringo Starr had an album come out in 1974, "Goodnight, Vienna". One of the songs from that album was "Only You (And You Alone)", a cover of a song from the 1950s. As a promotional clip, Starr sang the song on top of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, alongside a mock-up of a flying saucer and huge figures looking like Klaatu and the robot Gort from "The Day The Earth Stood Still". This came from the fact that the album cover recreated an iconic scene from that film. Finding this clip, which I didn't realize existed, tickles me because I can remember driving by on the freeway during that period and seeing the saucer and huge figures on the roof of the building, which had been put up as promotion for the album. Growing up in Southern California in the 1960s and 1970s made for some trippy and unique experiences:

John Lennon also had a new album out in 1974, "Walls and Bridges". The song "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" was included, here in a live performance with Elton John:

For some reason, today's post has taken me most of the afternoon to put together. so I'll leave it at this for now. I might have more to share from the 1970s later on.

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