The Thing About 70s Music

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I spent several hours yesterday morning doing a software rollout. It was a meticulous process, and I find that if I have music playing in the background for that kind of work, it blocks out everything else and I can focus better. I spent those hours listening to SiriusXM 70s on 7. I had a smile on my face the entire time. Around noon, Casey Kasem came on to do the Top 40 countdown for this week in 19701. You know it is the 70s when “Rubber Duckie” is one of the songs on the countdown.

I listen to a lot of 80s music because those were my formative years. Still, I was eight years old in 1980 and I have very clear memories of where I was when various songs played on the radio in the 1970s. I’ve always had a fondness for the 70s, and even once wrote a post about what it would be like to spend a week in the 1970s. Listening to music from the 70s, no matter what style, always puts me into a good mood. Music from the 1980s can do this, too, but 80s music can also have me suddenly feeling awkward, reliving those years of puberty. The 70s always seems happy to me.

After I completed my rollout, and ate a late lunch, I headed down for my afternoon nap, and while I lay there, before falling asleep, I considered why it was that 70s music always makes me happy, and why it always makes me think the 70s was a kind of golden age of my youth. I’d thought about this before, but this was the first time I found an answer.

I was absolutely carefree in the 1970s. I had no worries whatsoever.

Life is simple when you four, or six, or even eight years old. As I got older, the worries and stresses built. In the 80s, it was junior high school, then high school and a job and standardized tests and applying for colleges and dating and playing sports. All of that happened in the 80s. In the 70s, I had toys, and television. I watched The Incredible Hulk and The Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights. I watched The Love Boat on Saturday nights. Saturday mornings were for cartoons: The Bugs Bunney/Roadrunner Show was among my favorites. The 70s was about albums, and movies like Grease and Star Wars. In the 70s, there were bagel deliveries on Sunday mornings. Steve Hartman (later with Joan Lunden) gave me the news (“Make it a good day today!”). The Yankees won the World Series in ’77 and ’78. They never won in the 1980s. In the 70s, my dad took me to Pop’s gas station and to the Country Squire where I could have a donut. We went to a putting green that was nearby an airport and I watched little planes land, with no inkling that one day, I’d be flying planes like those.

And of course, I was surrounded by music. The radio was on for the drives to my grandparent’s house, about an hour away. Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” always reminds me of where the New Jersey Turnpike meets the Garden State Parkway. The Eagles “Take It To the Limit” reminds me of the Garden State Parkway in the 1970s. “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee reminds me of our family room. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain and Tennille reminds me of our kitchen. The theme song from “Welcome Back, Kotter” reminds me of a drive home from a Mets game. All of it was (or at least in retrospect seems) carefree. Well, most of it. Super Tramp’s “The Long Way Home” reminds me of hanging out with my best friend after his dad died.

I have an autobiography playlist and the first 26 songs on that list are songs I remember from the 1970s. It’s not until you get to #27 and #28 (“Rio” by Duran Duran and “Video Killed the Radio Star” that we get into the 1980s.) And those 26 songs are just representative. I could have made that list much longer. I don’t do it often, but I love listening to the first part of that playlist.

With all of the usual stresses of a middle-aged adult in the modern world, raising a family in the midst of a global pandemic, it is no wonder that I find joy and respite in the music from a time when I had no cares or worries. It was a sort of revelation to finally understand why I liked 70s music so much, and why it always seemed to cheer me up. Now, on those rare occasions when I am feeling down, I’m going to turn to 70s on 7 and see if it helps to cheer me up.

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  1. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas was #1.


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