On the decades: ’70s

I get my taste in music from my dad. This is not news. But it’s cool how you can use your music “education” (if informal) as a jumping off point for creating your own opinions.

I had been sheltering in place at home when one night he put on a playlist of ’70s tunes – the kind of sound he’d grown up with. What came across to me was the coherent sound of a decade. That’s not to say that each song sounded the same. It’s just that there were very clear, decade-defining musical components. You can say the same of other decades (the ’80s is an easy, iconic example). Maybe I’ll get there in other posts but right now we’re focusing on the groove.

What makes the sound of the ’70s? Soft disco, just like the Bee Gees (which I’m actually listening to as I write this post). You could argue that ABBA has more than a little disco in their veins too. Other elements include jangly, freewheeling guitar – think “Big Yellow Taxi” by the original, inimitable Joni Mitchell. Of course there’s funk, too: Earth, Wind, & Fire. Funkadelic. Sly and the Family Stone.

And like every decade, new genres come into being. The prime example of that is punk. Loud, screechy, unapologetic. It’s the Sex Pistols that brought this new genre to the fore. They were the ur-example of that in-your-face rejection of the music, politics, and attitudes that their parents had adopted.

What speaks “’70s music” to you?

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