I woke up today with Arlo Guthrie‘s City of New Orleans in my head.
Good morning America how are you?
Don’t you know me I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.
It’s just one of those choruses that is a joy to sing and has the unmistakable signature of the 1970s. Looking at that decade of music, it’s easy for people to focus on disco and claim that the seventies sucked music-wise. Oh, but it didn’t. There was so much more. Hell, even disco was cool. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without I Will Survive, or campy classics like YMCA, but mostly, I love listening to songs that I remember from AM radio* in our blue Ford Pinto and covered by my Dad and his acoustic guitar on the front porch on any summer evening. I can still picture – and just about smell – the stacks of vinyl records my parents had collected. Though I didn’t understand what they were saying, I would put on some Dr Hook and sing along, careful to not upset the needle on the record with my dancing.
I just listened to Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel. I’m about to cue up Blinded by the Light as I type up this post.
Each decade has its sound, but it’s hard to find one that had as wide a range as the seventies. Disco, singer-songwriters, rock, metal, punk, country, and experimental music seemed to colour the 1970s with more interesting sounds than any other, and I doubt we’ll ever see such an eclectic era again. The period of ground-breaking discovery is over. Now there are too many bands, re-sampled/re-worked sounds, and pure studio creations to give me the treasured feeling of nostalgia that I still feel when I hear Me and Bobby McGee or I Feel Love. I like knowing the lyrics to American Pie from before Madonna got her hands on it.
I can count on one hand the bands or solo artists from the past twenty years that have inspired or touched me to the point of never tiring of them. That kind of music is harder to find in the sea of mediocre sounds and mass production hits. Makes me sad, but also makes me feel so lucky to be a child of the seventies.