Three From The 70s

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the 1970s used to get a lot of bad press when it came to music. I’m talking about 70s music in general, not to overlook the extra helpings of guano that were hurled at disco and jazz fusion. I never bought into that, what with all the great material we got during that decade from Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye . . . the list is endless. The knocks ended ages ago. Hardly anyone gripes about 70s music anymore. I mean, more so than the tunes from any other decade, it has become the soundtrack to our lives. But what about those who used to parade with their “Disco Sucks” flags held high? Hey, put on Disco Inferno, by The Trammps, or the Stones’ Miss You, and I guarantee that they’ll be boogying on the dance floor like puppy monkey babies. And if you don’t know what a puppy monkey baby is, get with it and click here.

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Which brings us to my abode on a Sunday morning last month. A quiet morning. The neighborhood’s brigade of lawn mowers hadn’t approached the starting line yet, and nearby dogs, for reasons unknown, weren’t barking their f**king heads off. I was listening to WXPN, a radio station based in Philadelphia. It was in the midst of one of its one-off events: The Greatest 70s Music Ever Weekend. I listened for two hours and caught all 22 songs that they played during that span. My degree of awareness varied from song to song, though, depending on each number’s ability to penetrate a mind trying to unravel the secrets of the universe. As usual I didn’t get too far with that. Most of the songs I knew. Man, I hadn’t heard Steve Forbert’s It Isn’t Gonna Be That Way in at least five years. Hadn’t heard Tom Traubert’s Blues, by Tom Waits, in decades. And Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)? Well, anyone who’s a dial flipper like me is going to run across that one a whole lot. It’s probably being played on at least one station in the world at every moment of every day. As well it should be.

The bottom line was that nearly every song on WXPN sounded good or better than good. But three of them rang my bells more than the others. And of those three, one in particular unmoored my boat and sent me . . .

The three songs I liked best are on these albums.
The three songs I liked best are on these albums.

My faves from the morning were Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, David Bowie’s Wild Is The Wind, and El Condor Pasa (If I Could) by Simon and Garfunkel. Great recordings. Much of humanity is familiar with one or more of them. If I were asked to provide the briefest of descriptions of their essential natures, I’d say, in respective order: heartfelt, majestic, transporting.

I loved these three songs from the first moments that I heard them in the 1970s, which in each case was soon after their release on vinyl albums. Tupelo Honey is my number one song on the album of the same name from which it cometh, and the album is my number one among many primo efforts by Van The Man. Morrison was at the top of his game as a singer and songwriter when Tupelo Honey, the album, came out in 1971. I listened keenly last month as Tupelo Honey, the song, played on WXPN. My, my, my . . . how sweet it was, the languid pacing, each organ and guitar line issued oh so casually yet with a soulful caress, and Van’s voice wrapped tightly around the words, as if letting go would result in life’s lessening. “She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey/She’s an angel of the first degree/She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey/Just like honey, baby, from the bee.” This song is the best (click here to listen).

Yet, David Bowie’s version of Wild Is The Wind might be better. And, David the prolific songwriter, didn’t even pen the tune. It was the title song, written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, of a 1957 movie, Dimitri handling the notes and Ned the words. Wild Is The Wind fit like a glove among Bowie’s compositions on Station To Station, his soaring, riveting album from 1976. Wild Is The Wind is a mysterious ride. Guitars calmly anchor the production with repeating and chiming lines as Bowie’s vocals take flight. His singing is dramatic, touched with eeriness and loaded with falsetto leaps. I sat back on the couch last month and let the sounds wash over me. Wild Is The Wind is the best (click here to listen).

Yet, to me El Condor Pasa (If I Could) is better. Maybe because of its simplicity, its sweet melody that relaxes my knotted guts. And because of Simon’s and Garfunkel’s unaffectedly angelic vocals. And the flutes. No question, it’s the flutes that get to me more than anything.

El Condor Pasa was composed in 1913 by Daniel Alomia Robles, a Peruvian. Robles, the story goes, based his music on traditional Andean folk songs that date back who-knows-how-many-centuries, probably to the time of the Incas. And speaking of Incas, Simon apparently first heard the tune performed by the band Los Incas, with whom he toured a bit during his pre-Garfunkel days. He fell in love with the song. Some years later, Los Incas backed up S & G for the recording of El Condor during the sessions that resulted in a famous album, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon added lyrics to Robles’ composition. The album came out in 1970 with El Condor as its second track.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for the pure, innocent high notes of Los Incas’ flutes. I heard El Condor on XPN at the beginning of my two hour session. I was still in bed. My eyes might have been open, but I closed them when the song came on the air. Up, up and away it took me. El Condor Pasa (If I Could) is the best. I mean it. Click here to listen.

(Don’t be shy about adding your comments, or about sharing this article with others)

(Photo of albums by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin. If you click on it, a larger image will open)

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31 thoughts on “Three From The 70s

  1. Laura May 17, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Great post! Love all the song selections/ bands. I was just thinking a few days ago that I should write about the music I grew up with. Miss the 70’s and 80’s music! Thanks for sharing!😃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyce May 17, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Enjoyable blog! I especially liked the 3 clicks! It defiantly adds to the stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindamclaren May 17, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Puppy, monkey, baby!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! In Aussie land that’s a definite no see! So funny!
    And yeah, the “clicks” are good. You might just have to share how you embed them since I be number one technology spaz!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 17, 2016 / 1:46 pm

      I too am anything but a techno whiz. There might be various ways to embed a link. Luckily I stumbled upon a way that works. WordPress.com has various support pages where they go into how to do it.
      Believe me, if I can do it, anybody can!

      Like

  4. jerseydreaming May 17, 2016 / 12:12 pm

    I really enjoyed that. Great writing and Wild is the Wind is an underrated classic. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. stue1967 May 17, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    I must admit I’m not a fan of El Condor Pasa (It’s the shrill tone of flutes and panpipes that does it – I have a problem with most flute based music!).
    Wild Is The Wind is wonderful though. I saw Bowie play at Glastonbury in 2000. He walked on to the track with his long hair and his frock coat. I thought it was a brave move opening with a) a ballad and b) not a “hit”. He pulled it off completely though, the epitome of cool. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Still the Lucky Few May 18, 2016 / 12:46 am

    Bridge Over Troubled Water won my heart the first time I heard it, but El Condor Pasa is my favorite. I was depressed for days when I heard S & G broke up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 18, 2016 / 10:51 am

      They have reunited now and then over the years. But maybe that’s not going to happen anymore. It would be great, though, if they did.

      Like

  7. aj vosse May 19, 2016 / 7:59 am

    I sort of live my life by the music of the 70’s… excluding 99.95% of the disco stuff! Mind you… Donna Summer gets my vote. Your three are all winner to the nth degree but the mention of S&G got me thinking (again) of the newest cover of Sounds of Silence. If ever someone has added magic to a S&G song it has now happened!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. stue1967 May 19, 2016 / 8:18 am

    Natalie Prass’s version of Sound of Silence from her recent mini LP is very good

    Liked by 2 people

  9. swabby429 May 22, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    I’m glad to see something that’s not hostile to Disco. I was so into Disco and dance music in the 1970s. The rest of the 70s genres had plenty to offer too. The 70s were fun years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yeahanotherblogger May 22, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      I admit to not being disco’s biggest fan years ago. But I like a lot of it when I hear it now.

      Like

  10. Aunt Beulah May 23, 2016 / 12:12 pm

    You nearly lost me with the puppy monkey babies which I found oddly disturbing, but I recovered and listened to every other piece of music you provided a link for. I agree that El Condor Pasa leads the parade. After all these years, it still thrills me when i hear it; in addition to being a marvelous piece of music, it takes me back to one of the best years of my life. Thanks for featuring it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 23, 2016 / 1:43 pm

      I know – – – the puppy monkey baby is very weird. Hard not to watch, though.

      I wonder if Paul Simon includes El Condo Pasa in his concerts. It’s such a lively song.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. everythingsundry May 26, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I happen to think that the 1970s produced a ton of memorable music. That’s the decade that I started to attend as many concerts as I could…. and I’m still at it. While I love the music of my past, I love discovering new music. It keeps me young!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 26, 2016 / 6:18 pm

      I completely agree with your outlook on music. A lot of people get stuck in the past when it comes to music (and other things). But, it’s amazing how much good music is being made these days.

      Like

  12. jeff7salter June 5, 2016 / 10:49 pm

    My own favorite period of music is from the middle 60s to the very early 70s… so there would be a bit of overlap with your decade.
    But I also like some of the late 50s to early 60s … even though there was a lot of fluff on the airwaves then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 6, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      I’m not sure if I have a favorite musical era. There is so much music that I like from many decades, including the current one.
      Many thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. C. C. Cedras June 9, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    Ah, my era. Love these selections…if it was possible to wear vinyl out, I wore out Bridge Over Troubled Water. And Van Morrison, everything. Thank you for this brush with memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 10, 2016 / 7:47 am

      Thanks vey much for reading this article and for adding your thoughts.
      I appreciate it.

      Like

  14. Jay Haeske June 10, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    Check out The Wainwright Sisters’ version of El Condor Pasa – it’s very wonderful, those voices are hard to beat.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. sachaogrady July 25, 2016 / 2:20 am

    Tupelo Honey, Wild Is The Wind, and El Condor Pasa (If I Could) are all great songs. No disagreements there. Enjoyed your post

    Liked by 1 person

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