DiscoverFor the Record: The 70s
For the Record: The 70s

For the Record: The 70s

Author: Amy Lively

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An audio documentary of 70s music. This podcast examines the intersection of a wide variety of musical genres -- pop, rock, country, country-pop, disco, punk, soul -- with the historic events and decisions that helped shape our modern world.
52 Episodes
How and why did artists such as John Denver and Olivia Newton-John upset the country music establishment in the 1970s? Country radio has created the country music sound it has wanted since Elvis and rock and roll began to lure away its customers. This was not pleasing to country music purists in the 1970s. This episode discusses why more people began to listen to "countryish" music in the 70s and why it became difficult to distinguish country from other pop music. [This episode has been slightly updated since its original publication in November 2018.]
Disco and the 70s had a love-hate relationship. This episode examines who hated disco and why, as well as why it thrived in the underground until radio and the movie, "Saturday Night Fever," helped bring disco into the mainstream.      
In just over a two-year span as the 1970s marched on toward the 1980s, John Travolta starred in three cultural touchstone movies: "Saturday Night Fever" (released on December 12, 1977), "Grease" (released on June 16, 1978), and "Urban Cowboy" (released on June 6, 1980). This episode examines the cultural significance of those films, the music in them, and how much Travolta himself had to do with the popularity of the movies.
In 1974, a local Austin PBS station aired the first episode of "Austin City Limits" and, with that, took the first step to showing the entire country how Austin, Texas celebrated and encouraged experimentation with country music. One of the founders of the show carried a business card that described the show's music as "free form country folk rock science fiction gospel gum existential bluegrass guacamole opera music." As the show celebrates it's 50th anniversary in 2024, it continues to be an example of how a commitment to music rather than glitz and glamour can find a loyal television audience.
The year 1974 shoulder much of the blame for the so-called worst music of not only the 1970s, but the worst of all time. Is this true? While we know that 1974 had much good to offer, is it true that it also had the worst of the worst? If so, does it matter. This episode takes a closer look at some songs considered the all-time worst, including "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Cat's in the Cradle," by Harry Chapin, and "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
Did you watch television in the 70s? If so, it was highly likely that you watched something that was created or produced by Dick Clark. The centerpiece of his entertainment empire was "American Bandstand," but there was more than that, including "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and "The 25,000 Pyramid." Clark was concerned about his legacy and this episode examines just what that legacy was and how it was part of 70s pop culture.
What could possibly happen to make a music festival be tagged as "3 Days of Sodom and Gomorrah?" How about toilets on fire? Drugs being sold as openly as sex? Young rock fans strolling naked through the streets of Sedalia, Missouri as they ditched their clothing to cope with the summer heat? Yes, all this and more descended on this small Missouri town in a festival that was marketed, in part, to town officials as a method of showcasing bluegrass music. There was a little bluegrass but there was a whole lot more of rock. As bad as the behavior of many of the fans was, that was how great the music was. Twenty-seven bands in all, including The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Eagles, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, REO Speedwagon, and more performed for hot, thirsty, and high rock fans in an epic and unforgettable weekend of rock (mostly) music.
In the 1970s, it was not easy for Canadians to produce and distribute music that would be widely received by American or Canadian audiences. Their was the issue of cost and, maybe even more importantly, the issue of credibility. Canada's content laws made radio listeners skeptical about the bands they heard and whether they were "good," which tended to mean they had received an American stamp of approval. This episode examines the work and, in many cases, the perseverence of Canadian bands including Bachman Turner Overdrive, Rush, and Triumph as they worked to create careers that were sustainable beyond the Canadian borders.
There is no single type of novelty song, although they all have something that distinguishes them. Sometimes it is the topic and sometimes it is the format, but a novelty song that endures should also be a good piece of music. Novelty songs were popular in the 1970s and this episode examines some of the most popular ones, including "Spiders and Snakes" by Jim Stafford, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, and "Mr. Jaws" by Dickie Goodman.  
On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed protestors at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded. This episode examines that music that mattered to the students and the music that was made as a result of this tragedy. "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young stands alone as not only the most famous song to be associated with the massacre, but also as one of the greatest protest songs of all time. However, former Kent State students Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and Joe Walsh, who were on campus on May 4, 1970, were forever impacted by the shootings. So, too, were Gerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, the founders of Devo, who have said that without the massacre, the band would not have existed. --- Send in a voice message:
What IS an opera, anyway? It is a dramatic story told with music rather than acting. The songs tell us the story. The 1970s was not only a golden era for classic rock, it was especially a golden era for the rock opera. This episode of For the Record: The 70s examines some of songs from the iconic rock operas of the decade, most of which have the similar theme of youth angst and desire at their core. Artists and bands such as The Who, Meatloaf, and Pink Floyd created characters and told stories with their songs and, in the process, created some of the best rock that the 70s had to offer. --- Send in a voice message:
Is it possible that the combination of the live music and the community that was created at The Troubadour in Los Angeles can ever be replicated? There are few clubs that have the cultural impact that The Troub had on 70s popular culture. This episode examines a wide spectrum of artists, of both the music and comedic variety, that saw The Troubadour help launch their careers.  Playlist: Ol’ 55 (Live) by Tom Waits (1975) A Song for You (Live) by Donny Hathaway (1971) Solitary Man (Live) by Neil Diamond (1970) Take Me to the Pilot by Elton John (1970) Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne (1972) Live at the Troubadour by Steve Martin (1976) Chuck E’s In Love by Rickie Lee Jones (1979) Sad Cafe by The Eagles (1979) --- Send in a voice message:
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 Olivia took a page from the fictional character that she brought to life, Sandy Olsson, in “Grease.” With the twist of a red pump on a cigarette butt and a growl of “Tell me about it, Stud,” she threw off her countryish-pop/soft rock persona. She burst into the 80s as a woman not afraid to sing about sex and to have some fun while she did it. From the ethereal roller disco muse in “Xanadu” to the sexy aerobics instructor in the ubiquitous “Physical,” Olivia shaped the early 80s just as she did throughout the 70s. Can you imagine either decade without her? Nope. Me, either. --- Send in a voice message:
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 AT40 in the 80s, will appear on For the Record: The 80s in September. You can also read this essay Amy wrote about AT40: --- Send in a voice message:
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, the rest of America became more like the South. This episode discusses the question of how we should think about that music now, as well as the very thorny question of what the Confederate flag has to do with any of it.  --- Send in a voice message:
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" by Sugarhill Records for "Rapper's Delight" as it was disco's (and Chic's) last big hit, while it was just the beginning of what was to come for hip hop. --- Send in a voice message:
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 in an attempt to understand how women found their place in rock, while society as a whole still struggled with granting women their full complement of civil rights. --- Send in a voice message:
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 Billboard Hot 100. --- Send in a voice message:
"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 to its roots." This episode of For the Record: The 70s examines the importance of both the fight and the music festival in an era when Ali and many of the musicians who performed in Zaire were at turning points in their careers. --- Send in a voice message:
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 tribute to jazz in the 70s was greater than Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” which paid homage to Duke Ellington and others who, in the words of Wonder, “gave us something that is supposed to be forever.” --- Send in a voice message:
Comments (1)

Evin Bryant

Wekl researched and great insights to 70s music his6abd history in general.

Jan 20th