For the Record: The 70s

For the Record: The 70s

An audio documentary of 1970s music and history. This podcast examines the intersection of a wide variety of musical genres, including pop, rock, country, country-pop, disco, punk, and soul with the events and people that helped shape the 70s and beyond.

Episodes

October 5, 2022 46 min

After Olivia Newton-John died, her broad reach was evident. Tributes poured in from all corners of the entertainment world. Even at the music festival for the late Taylor Hawkins in September, organized by his friend and Foo Fighters bandmate, Dave Grohl, there Livvy was, her smiling face on the drum kit.  is impossible to imagine pop culture of the 1970s and 1980s without Olivia Newton-John. That all changed, of course, when Olivi...

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If anyone could make following the Billboard Top 40 a friendly competitive sport, it was Casey Kasem. His national radio countdown show, American Top 40, is a vital part of 70s and 80s music history. This episode discusses AT40 in the 70s, including the first and last #1 songs played in the decade, the first long distance dedication, and Casey's tribute to The King, Elvis Presley, following his death in 1977. Part 2, covering A...

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Southern rock from bands such as the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd was not just loved by Americans from the South. Southern rock had broad appeal. For many white southerners, though, this form of rock tapped into a desire for nostalgia, rebellion, and reclaiming the South as a distinct region. The 1970s was a time when regional distinctions in the United States were fading and as the South became more like the rest of America,...

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June 16, 2022 33 min

Mainstream hip hop burst onto the scene with "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang in 1979, but hip hop's roots go deeper than that into 70s music. Hip hop godfathers Gil Scott-Heron and James Brown helped pave the way for rap and hip hop to become a commercial success, as did Chic with their funky disco smash, "Good Times" in 1979. There is some irony in "Good Times" being liberally "borrowed...

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June 16, 2022 35 min

Rock and roll was a man's world in the 1970s. Would that have been any  different if Janis Joplin had not died just as the 70s were beginning?  The world will never know but what is known is that women in the music industry faced challenges that men did not, simply because of their gender. This episode reviews the contributions of Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Chrissie Hynde ...

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Suffice to say that America's spirit in 1976 was a bit...mixed. The first half of the 70s carried the weight of war, social discord, and assorted political drama that began in the 60s. Even the very question of whether or not the U.S. should celebrate and, if so, how, was up in the air. This episode examines the collective mood of the U.S. on the occasion of its 200th birthday and takes a look at songs that made it to #1 on the...

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Many of you have asked for it, so here it is: For the Record: The 80s! The first episode to this companion podcast to For the Record: The 70s is available now! Check out this preview on Episode 1: Heartland Rock is Not Just about the Heartland and if you like what you hear, head over to your app and subscribe! 

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"The Rumble in the Jungle" featured heavyweight boxing legends, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, but they were not the only legends who gathered in Zaire in the fall of 1974. The music festival known as Zaire '74 brought African and African American music icons such as B.B. King, Bill Withers, Manu Dibango, and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown together in what Lloyd Price envisioned as a day "the beat would return...

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Jazz is America’s music. It is America’s sole original form of art, yet it had declined in popularity by the 1970s to the point that some musicians resisted even being associated with it. Still, jazz’s influence was felt in popular music by bands like Chicago and Steely Dan. These bands were able to evoke the spirit of jazz while presenting their music in a form that was easier for music fans to accept and interpret. Perhaps no tri...

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Tom Wolfe said the 70s was witness to the Third Great Awakening, as many Americans turned to religion on their quest for self-enlightenment or simply to find a way to make sense out of the social and political chaos. This religious revival was reflected in pop music of the era, although writing or singing songs about religion was still a bit risky. This episode looks at songs by artists such as George Harrison, The Staples Singers,...

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There is no single sound that defines the 70s but there is no doubt that Philly Soul, or the Sound of Philadelphia, is an essential element. The O'Jays, The Spinners, Three Degrees, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and Billy Paul are just some of the artists that created silky, lush soul records under the direction of "The Mighty Three": Thom Bell, Kenny Gamble, and Leon Huff. With a distribution deal from Clive Davis ...

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Who knew that Barry Manilow wanted "Could it Be Magic" to be a "musical orgasm?" That song was part of the wide menu of 70s pop, which has been often derided by critics, yet found an audience with millions of music fans then and now. This episode examines the variety of songs that are classified as pop, which became a genre unto itself in the 70s. Artists such as The Carpenters, Cher, ABBA, and Andy Gibb made music ...

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The relationship between music and sports in the 70s was multidimensional. There were songs about individual athletes, there were songs that enhanced the game for the fans, and there were songs that created an identity for athletes and teams. This relationship was evident even in rollerskating, which saw music set the mood and, at times, offered an escape in times of turmoil. This episode looks at songs on a wide spectrum, from ...

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Gram Parsons called country rock Cosmic American Music; it was a little of this and a little of that, combined into a musical stew that today we call Americana. In the 70s, though, the marriage of rock and country, complete with the steel guitar and perhaps a banjo or two, seemed like an unlikely marriage. The truth is that rock and country share similar roots, but heavily formatted radio was not sure what to do with bands like Poc...

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August 8, 2021 36 min

Songwriters of the 70s took on Richard Nixon the best way they knew how: with their music. Blaming music for drug use, the Kent State shootings, Watergate, and getting a pardon for "any crimes he may have committed" were all issues that inspired artists such as Jefferson Airplane, CSNY, The Honey Drippers, Stevie Wonder, and David Bowie. This episode discusses how music reflected the dissatisfaction and outright anger with ...

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Did music help push the sexual revolution in the 1970s or was the music reflecting the changes in how society viewed sexuality? Music has always been used to sell sex but the message was delivered more directly in the 70s. The sexual revolution and music's role in it are explored using the music of Loretta Lynn, Led Zeppelin, The Archies (!), Marvin Gaye, Labelle, Donna Summer, and Patti Smith.

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Bubblegum music was as beloved by its fans as it was maligned by critics. The 70s saw bubblegum of the 60s, such as "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies, morph into adoration of teen idols such as David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, and The Bay City Rollers. Still, the bubblegum formula worked for other pop hits, too, like "Rock Me Gently." In this episode we makes the case that bubblegum music was as good as any pop music that wa...
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Reggae may not have ever found a significant radio audience in America in the 70s, but its influence on pop and rock music is undeniable. This episode traces the beginning of reggae, borne out of the political strife of late-60s Jamaica, to the first real reggae hit in the U.S. by Blondie in 1981. Bob Marley was not all there was to reggae but he still stands as the most beloved artist of a genre that is both the product of music t...
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January 23, 2021 47 min
Movie soundtracks got better in the 70s as the creation of soundtracks became more intentional. Rather than simply compiling songs for an album and calling it a soundtrack, producers hired artists to create music that offered commentary and enhanced our understanding of characters. Soundtracks ranging from "Super Fly" to "Saturday Night Fever" were as successful if not more so than the movies they supported. --- ...
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The heyday of the TV variety show was, without a doubt, the 70s. It seemed as if every entertainer either had their own show or was on someone else's. While at the time they may have seemed a bit corny, they also seemed to be just what many Americans in the 70s were in the mood for in the wake of assassinations, Watergate, and the war in Vietnam. Looking back at the era, we can also see that these shows give us a glimpse into 7...
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