March 2016

220px-Poems,_Prayers_and_Promises#5 – John Denver – “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – (1971)

Well this spot was originally reserved for Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”… but that came out in 1969 (not sure what I was thinking). So I needed a replacement. It came down to “Me and Bobby McGee” or this. I made the right decision because the more you listen to John Denver (and the more you really listen to the songwriting) the better it gets. It was a #2 song on the Hot 100.

Don_McLean_-_American_Pie_(album)_Coverart#6 – Don McLean – “American Pie” – (1971)

Many people consider this among the greatest songs ever written. It’s Don McLean’s biggest (but not only) hit. Most know that the song has strong allusions to the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper on their plane or “The Day The Music Died.” Aside from that, the song has a lot of references to other pop culture events in the 1960s. It’s timeless.

220px-Carole_King_-_Tapestry#7 – Carole King – “I Feel The Earth Move” – (1971)

From one of the greatest albums of the 1970s, Tapestry, we have one of Carole King’s best works. It was a #1 hit and has an almost jazzy upbeatness about it that set it apart. It’s, in a word, great.

220px-1971-tepts-sky#8 – The Temptations – “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” – (1971)

Imagination Week continues with a song so smooth that, with one exception, brought a halt to The Temptations string of hit records. Times were changing and that old 60s soul wasn’t selling quite the same – this was the final Temptations single to feature Eddie Kendricks. This #1 is one of their greatest songs.

51eeqai0WNL._SX300_#9 – Gene Wilder – “Pure Imagination” – (1971)

That’s right, this song sung by a brilliant comedic actor from one of his family films is one of the ten best songs of 1971. It was written for the film by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Gene Wilder gives a solid performance on vocals to a whimsical tune. The song has the ability to just suck you out of reality and put you in a fantasy land. It’s magical.


James_Taylor_-_Mud_Slide_Slim_and_the_Blue_Horizon#10 – James Taylor – “You’ve Got a Friend” – (1971)

This James Taylor #1 hit was written by Carole King, who is more or less the female equivalent of James Taylor. Or is James Taylor the male equivalent of Carole King? It won two Grammy awards and remains one of James Taylor’s most popular and beloved songs. 

JethroTullAqualungalbumcover#11 – Jethro Tull – “Locomotive Breath” – (1971)

Jethro Tull is one of the strangest rock bands of all time. Their main man played the flute. Yet, this song is one of the greatest classic rock songs ever. It’s a mix of progressive rock and just plain, hard rock. They say that it is supposed to resemble a locomotive chugging along and they really nailed it.  

220px-The_Doors_-_L.A._Woman#12 – The Doors – “L.A. Woman” – (1971)

Not the biggest fan of the Doors, but this song is incredible. It’s their best album and probably their best track. Why were songs so long back in the 70s? It seems like half of the songs on this year’s list are over 7 minutes. “Mr. Mojo Risin'” would pass away a few months after this album’s release, making this song one of his final pieces of work. And what a good one. 



MI0001829389#13 – Tom Jones – “She’s a Lady” – (1971)

Tom Jones had nearly twice as many top 40 hits in the U.K. as he did in the U.S. But still, he had a few huge hits here, including this, his best work. It was actually written by Paul Anka. It has a great swinging 60s orchestral vibe and just spot on vocals. 

220px-Three_Dog_Night_-_Harmony#14 – Three Dog Night – “An Old Fashioned Love Song” – (1971)

This was a tough one. Three Dog Night was going to be on this list, but deciding between two awesome tracks on this album wasn’t easy. Ultimately, “An Old Fashioned Love Song” peaked one position higher (#4) on the Hot 100 than did “Never Been to Spain.” One thing interesting about this track is how meta it is… it describes itself as it is being sung.

paranoid#15 – Black Sabbath – “War Pigs” – (1970)

Crap. This album came out in late 1970 and this song was never released as a single… not sure why it ended up on our 1971 list. At any rate, this is the best song from Paranoid. It’s an anti-war song – an obvious one, which isn’t something that was always readily apparent around the time it was released when seemingly every other song (regardless of what it sounded like) was labeled an “anti-war” song by its performer. Oh, and the air raid siren in thi song is at once creepy and awesome.

220px-ImagineCover#16 – John Lennon – “Imagine” – (1971)

No, this is not our #1 song for 1971. It’s good, but like with everything John Lennon touched (and Yoko was there instead of another Beatle to bring it back to reality) it kind of reeks of pretension. It’s an amazing, beautiful song. It peaked at #3 in the U.S. and is the definitive John Lennon song – and that includes everything he did with the Beatles.

220px-Teaser_&_the_firecat#17 – Cat Stevens – “Morning Has Broken” – (1971)

You have to admit it’s a little weird that one of Cat Steven’s most fondly remembered recordings is based on a Christian hymn – especially since, you know, he changed his name to Yusuf Islam and found himself on the U.S.’s “No Fly” list. Anyway this song is nothing short of beautiful. Cat’s voice and the wonderful piano really make it come to life. It’s the perfect songs for spring being on the horizon.