The Isolation Generation – Sugar Sweet Seventies Part II

Imagine – John Lennon: Can you imagine The Beatles performing this? Well, maybe. It was revolutionary (some might say Russian Revolutionary). But, the concepts offered here challenged people to care about each other as if this life was the be all and end all. “And the world will live as one.”

Billy Don’t Be A Hero – Bo Donaldson And The Heywoods: Anti war song done in a teasing schoolyard sort of way. By this time, everyone was fully aware of the disaster Vietnam had become (“don’t be a fool with your life”). But there were still some wanna be patriots out there, caught up in ‘trying to win’. This song was for them.

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Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is – Chicago: It sounds like a protest song, but does anybody really know what the protest was against (“if so I can’t imagine why/we’ve all got time enough to die”). We’re getting agitated for what reason?–Does+Anybody+Really+Know+What+Time+It+Is+Studio+Version

Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) – Aretha Franklin: Co-written by Stevie Wonder, the singer here was dumped and as a response is getting into that stalking behavior (“I’m gonna rap on your door/tap on your window pane”). It’s either true love or true psychosis. Talk about losing all self-‘Respect!’

All I Know – Garfunkel: “I bruise you/you bruise me/we both bruise too easily.” Ouch! ‘Love hurts’ seems to be the message here, both emotionally and physically. “They say in the darkest night/there’s a light beyond.”–All+I+Know

One Tin Soldier (The Legend Of Billy Jack) – Coven: Billy Jack, the righteous title character from the Karate/Native American film, had this equally righteous song as a motif (“go ahead and hate your neighbor/go ahead and cheat a friend”). Everybody gets justice in Billy Jack’s world. Could the rest of us?

Precious And Few – Climax: As sugary as can be, this song defies you to make sense of it (“and if I can’t find my way back home/it just wouldn’t be fair”). Some parts of the piece are more obvious than others (“quiet and blue like the sky/I’m all over you”)! But aren’t we ignoring caring feelings and talking about satisfying the urge for satisfying urges here?–Climax+featuring+Sonny+Geraci

The Candy Man – Sammy Davis Jr.: What could be sweeter? From the score of “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” (“talk about your childhood wishes/you can even eat the dishes”), this tune brightened up the underlying darkness of that film. And the film vastly brightened up the Roald Dahl Book “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” on which the screenplay was based. But here, Sammy takes the song and turns it into an over the top wild celebration of confection, performed as only the last great song and dance man could.–The+Candy+Man

The Morning After – Maureen McGovern: There were a lot of mistakes in the production of the film “The Poseidon Adventure.” A major one was not letting this version of the song be used on the soundtrack. (There, it was performed by the non-singer, Carol Lynley.) Cleverly crafted to fit into or out of the context of a capsized ocean liner (“and we’ll escape the darkness/we won’t be searching anymore”), it offers hope in either case.

Oh Babe, What Would You Say – Hurricane Smith: Here’s an English Dance Hall performance by this British Subject. There’s almost a Chaplinesque quality to the material (“Have I a hope/for half a chance/to even ask/if I could dance with you”). How quaint an approach in the rapidly being sexualized Seventies.–Oh+Babe+What+Would+You+Say

Photograph – Ringo Starr: No! The Beatles never would have done this! Still, it’s catchy and fun. And, that is George singing backup. (“Every time I see your face/it reminds me of the places/we used to go…”) Again, we have the theme of obsessing over other people. A photograph allows you to focus on your former lover by staring deeply at the picture. That says it all.–Photograph

Come Saturday Morning – The Sandpipers: At least we have the semblance of a normal relationship here. This song, taken from the Liza Minnelli college campus vehicle “The Sterile Cuckoo,” actually sounds like a fun trip (“I’m going away with my friend/we’ll Saturday spend/’til the end of the day”). Of course, that’s outside of the actual storyline of the film.

Misty – Ray Stevens: This is the composition that Johnny Mathis made famous, done in a novelty song country style (only ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic is still doing such comic songs). The great Erroll Garner penned this tune, and it must be a standard. It’s still a magnificent love song (“don’t you notice/how hopelessly I’m lost/that’s why I’m following you”), even with the yodeling, cowbells and steel guitars presented here.–Misty+(1975)

Got To Be There – Michael Jackson: Another Teen Idol. More love-induced wacky behavior (“got to be there/got to be there/in the morning/when she says hello/to the world”) means more staring, more stalking. Was this era in music simply about training maniacs?–Got+To+Be+There

Joy – Apollo 100 Featuring Tom Parker: Let’s hear it for Bach! This classic (and classical) instrumental work based on “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring,” gave radio listeners a bit of culture in between the usual pop fare. This proves that good music can survive even the deepest cultural abyss.–Jesu+joy+of+man’s+desiring

One Less Bell To Answer – The 5th Dimension: The most beautiful codependent song you will ever hear, the singer tries to make sense of a lover’s departure and of the mess left behind (“though I try to forget/it just can’t be done/each time the doorbell rings/I still run”). It’s Vikki Carr, only a bit more grounded.

Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens: Ray plays it straight here, backed by a children’s chorus, a gospel choir and some genuine feelings and meanings (“there is none so blind/as he who will not see/we must not close our minds/we must let our thoughts be free”). It’s almost impossible to recognize this singer as the one who performed “Misty.”

If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot: It’s the scenic-route tour to a split. The singer takes us through movies and books, but it only delays the ultimate message (“the feeling’s gone/and I just can’t get it back”). Even Gene McDaniels pretended to break up with more authority than this.–If+You+Could+Read+My+Mind+gr8fl

One Bad Apple – The Osmonds: The third in the Teen Idol Triumvirate is Donny Osmond. His vocal here is almost a throwback to the simplicity of the early Beatles (“one bad apple/don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl”). Don’t give up. Keep trying for your love!

Corner Of The Sky – John Rubinstein: From Broadway’s “Pippin,” this song is about finding a belonging place (“I’ve got to be/where my spirit can run free”). At once, both urgent and touching, it’s a great anthem for young people reaching their formative teen years…like the Space-Agers.

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Sideshow – Blue Magic: Talk about freaks! This is the biggest collection of losers since the 1962 Mets (“see the girl/who has lost/the only love/she ever had”). Should we pity or ridicule this bunch of sad sacks? Or, perhaps we should wallow in our own despair, just like them?|+BLUE+MAGIC

Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond: This is a happy-go-lucky song, until you realize Rosie isn’t a girl. “Cracklin’ Rosie” is actually Crackling Rosé, a very cheap wine (“you’re a store-bought woman/but you make me sing/like a guitar hummin’”). The singer is an alcoholic, riding the rails and possibly homeless. Have fun!–Cracklin’+Rosie+1970+High+Definition

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies: One of only a handful of pop songs about helping out your fellow man, the message is methodical. But, the meaning is lost in accidental self-parody (“no burden is he to bear/we’ll get there/for I know/he would not encumber me”).–He+Ain’t+Heavy+He’s+My+Brother+(1969)

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – The Spinners: Another instruction manual for how to become infatuated (“I’ve begun to feel so strange/every time I speak your name”). There is a mutual attraction (a rare and positive sign) and all of the usual expected stuff you find with a love song. In this case, though, at least we have a great beat to go with it.

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Feelings – Morris Albert: The ultimate joke song of the 70’s. Even Carol Burnett aped the over-the-top emotionalism offered here when her “Family Spot” character Eunice sang it on “The Gong Show.” Morris was a native of Brasil, so his lyric is unique: (“I wish I’ve never met you girl/you’ll never come again”). In the end, when you look at all of the songs of this era that encouraged stalking and obsession, maybe this wasn’t the worst.–Feelings

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass: We aren’t told exactly when and where this story takes place, but the hint is Barbary Coast, circa late 1800’s. A serving wench, working a bar for hundreds of men a night, saves her heart for the one guy who can’t tear himself away from his job (“my life my love and my lady/is the sea”). Unrequited love isn’t as bad as obsession, but it’s still not healthy.–Brandy+(You’re+a+Fine+Girl)

The Long And Winding Road – The Beatles: One last hurrah for the Lads from Liverpool and one thing’s for sure: it’s emotional (“many times I’ve been alone/and many times I’ve cried/anyway you’ll never know/the many ways I’ve tried”). The heavily produced piece, with its choir soaring to the sky, hits you like a blunt object to the back of your head. Was this Paul’s final statement to John?

more to come…


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