220px-Spinners_cover#1 – The Spinners – “I’ll Be Around” – (1973)

What? The #1 song from 1972 is actually from 1973? Well sort of. The album came out in April 1973 but this single was released in August of ’72 and was a Billboard #1 hit in the fall of 1972. Anyway, this song is beautiful. It’s one of the smoothest soul songs you’ll ever hear and it has been sampled and covered many times. It’s damned near perfect.

Billy_Joel_-_Piano_Man#1 – Billy Joel – “Piano Man” – (1973)

Man, could Billy Joel ever write some music. This is Joel’s signature song and he has become the Piano Man. It only reached #25 on the Hot 100, but it was his breakthrough hit and has become a legendary song that almost everyone knows some lyrics to. And the lyrics are brilliant, telling a complete story and setting a scene like few other songs can. It’s amazing. And yes, that album cover is kind of creepy.

Elton_John_-_Goodbye_Yellow_Brick_Road#2 – Elton John – “Candle in the Wind” – (1973)

This is one of Elton John’s finest songs. A wonderful tribute to Marilyn Monroe, “Candle in the Wind” came from one of Elton’s finest albums, as well. In 1997, he would re-lyric the song to honor Princess Diana after her death. That version would hit #1 and become the second-biggest selling single of all time. This one is no slouch, either.

There_Goes_Rhymin'_Simon#3 – Paul Simon – “Kodachrome” – (1973)

Paul Simon is responsible for some catchy songs – this among the finest (nothing beats “You Can Call Me Al”). Sadly, many people who are being introduced to this song for the first time don’t even know what Kodachrome is or that Kodak required it to be trademarked on the album’s song list. This song hit #2 on the Hot 100.

220px-Dark_Side_of_the_Moon#4 – Pink Floyd – “Money” – (1973)

While I may have gotten seemingly every other year incorrect on this “1973” countdown, at least I know when Dark Side of the Moon came out. It’s one of the greatest, most important albums ever released, regardless of genre. It stayed on Billboard’s Top 200 album charts for 15 years and has sold over 50 million copies. It’s full of amazing songs and I think this may be the best of them. Though written by Roger Waters, the song always makes me think of Nick Mason and his ridiculous car collection and other rich British people and their rich British possessions.

Oohlala#6 – The Faces – “Ooh La La” – (1973)

This song was co-written by Ronnie Wood, who was in The Faces, before he joined The Rolling Stones. Unlike most other songs from The Faces that featured Rod Stewart on vocals, Wood is actually the one singing here. The lyrics are brilliant in a wise-beyond-their-years sort of way. It’s a beautiful song.

220px-Paul_McCartney_&_Wings-Band_on_the_Run_album_cover#7 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Band on the Run” – (1973)

The 70s were a weird time for Paul McCartney – or at least, his fans. I never remember what albums were with Wings and which ones were solo. This is the title track for one of the greatest albums ever. At least five songs on this album are absolute killers. This is one of the only songs that reminds me of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the way that it changes sounds multiple times throughout the course of the song. It’s brilliant. And it was a #1 hit, too.

220px-Aerosmith_-_Aerosmith#10 – Aerosmith – “Dream On” – (1973)

Here’s the song that put Aerosmith on the map. It only peaked at #59 on the Hot 100 but it’s still a mainstay of classic rock radio. The re-release of the song in 1976 was actually a bigger hit – vaulting the track into the top ten nationally. From there, the band’s career was off and running… It remains one of their best songs.

220px-Let's_Get_It_On#11 – Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get It On” – (1973)

Those first few notes of this song tell you exactly what it is – and what it is is smoooth. This Hot 100 #1 is one of the sexiest songs ever and is soul defined. A lot of songs can lay claim to being Marvin Gaye’s signature song but I think this one might have the strongest argument.

R-2284347-1356703702-8679.jpeg#12 – B.W. Stevenson – “My Maria” – (1973)

This song is beautiful. B.W. Stevenson’s lyrically delivery is superb. A top ten hit in the U.S., it would later be covered successfully by Brooks and Dunn (which again appeared on the Hot 100 in 1996). This was Stevenson’s biggest hit.

220px-Golden_Earring_-_Moontan#13 – Golden Earring – “Radar Love” – (1973)

I love Golden Earring because they had two massive hits – each more than a decade apart. So we’re overdue for another. This is one of the best driving songs ever recorded. These Dutchmen can rock. It hit #13 in the U.S. and has appeared in countless TV episodes and films. 

Stampeders_-_Against_The_Grain#14 – The Stampeders – “Sweet City Woman” – (1971)

Well, hell. I wasn’t even close on this one. Like way off. Oh well. Lead banjo is a beautiful thing and this group of Canadians use it to perfection. It was a top ten hit in the U.S. and features the lovely lyric: “She feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons.”

220px-Brothersandsistersallmanbrother#15 – The Allman Brothers Band – “Jessica” – (1973)

This is one of the greatest rock instrumentals of all time. Written by guitarist Dickey Betts, this is a classic rock staple. It peaked at #65 on the Hot 100. It’s a good driving song – and as such, it was the theme for Top Gear

220px-Stealersalbum#16 – Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle With You” – (1972)

Stealers Wheel, from Scotland, actually released their debut album at the tail end of 1972. This song peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 in 1973. This was a surprise hit for the band (which included song co-writer and lead singer, the late Gerry Rafferty) as it was written to sort of mock Bob Dylan’s style. Perhaps most famously, the song was used in Reservoir Dogs where Michael Madsen cuts off another man’s ear. 

220px-RingoCover#17 – Ringo Starr – “You’re Sixteen” – (1973)

As creepy as the title and chorus might seem, imagine that it’s being sung by another 16 year old, and not the now 70+ Ringo Starr. Ringo actually took this song to #1. It’s a cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1960 top ten hit. The song was actually written by the Sherman Brothers (of Mary Poppins, etc. fame). The kazoo sound during the bridge is actually Paul McCartney. And that’s Harry Nilsson on backing vocals. Looks like Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” started earlier than we thought…

220px-Lynyrdskynyrd#18 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird” – (1973)

“Free Bird” was actually the final track on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album. It’s the band’s signature song (right there with “Sweet Home Alabama”) and stands as one of the definitive songs of classic rock. At an album length of just over nine minutes, live versions regularly exceeded 10 (sometimes 15) – including the one below which is actually from Freebird… The Movie, a concert documentary about the band. The joke with this song is, of course, to yell out “Free Bird!” at concerts as it’s one of the most requested songs ever. The song peaked at #19 on the Hot 100 and has one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.

ScreenHunter_319 Aug. 23 11.13#19 – Al Wilson – “Show and Tell” – (1973)

Early-70s soul music is the best kind of soul music. There’s horns and great voices… this song was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis but it was Meridian, Mississippi’s Al Wilson who took it to #1 – the biggest hit of his career. Late Show fans will know this as the song Paul Schaffer would sing when they played Audience Show and Tell.

Jim_Croce_-_Life_&_Times#20 – Jim Croce – “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” – (1973)

I’ve always wondered where Jim Croce’s career would’ve taken him had he not died in a plane crash in 1973. This was his final #1 hit from a career that was all too short. This song is a fantastic folk song with some gospel/R&B infused into it. It’s one of those songs that tell a story – wait, I think I just described folk music in general.

diamond#21 – Seals & Crofts – “Diamond Girl” – (1973)

This isn’t 2004. I’m just going to start embedding the song into the post. Duh. Anyway, on to 1973 and this soft rock classic from Jim Seals and Dash Crofts. This was the biggest hit from the Diamond Girl album, peaking at #6 on the Hot 100. It’s one of the greatest soft rock songs of all time.

 

220px-Three_Dog_Night_-_Cyan#8 – Three Dog Night – “Shambala” – (1973)

“Shambala” is one of Three Dog Night’s most fun songs and it came out in 1973 (dammit!). “Shambala” refers to an El Dorado-like mythical place that can be found in Tibetan Buddhism. I guess it’s like Shangri-La. Three Dog Night’s version of this song hit #3 on the Hot 100 (B.W. Stevenson released a version at the exact same time, but it was not as successful).

220px-Wovoka_(album)_cover#18 – Redbone – “Come and Get Your Love” – (1973)

“Come and Get Your Love” was the biggest hit and signature song of Redbone, a band from L.A. whose members were of either Native American or Mexican descent. This song peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in 1974 (even though the album came out at the end of 1973). My favorite story about this band is that there was a group touring under the name “Redbone” actually booking shows and performing at small venues that wasn’t this band at all. But because no one really knew what they looked like, they were able to get away with it.

220px-The_Tree_Degrees_-_The_Three_Degrees#19 – The Three Degrees – “When Will I See You Again” – (1973)

This song was released as a single in the later second half of 1974 but the album it appeared on came out 1973. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia and this was their biggest hit (it hit #1 in ’74). Strangely, they had more success in the U.K. than in the U.S. It’s great, early-70s soul.

Mike Oldfield – “Tubular Bells” – (1973)

Well, Halloween is this week and I thought I’d feature a pair of spooky tunes. First up is Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” It’s not really a song so much as an all-inclusive album – two sides not broken up into tracks. But, there was a cut – the opening part of Side One – which was used in the film The Exorcist, which is one of the best horror films of all time. The album reached #1 in two countries and an unauthorized-by-Oldfield single was released by Atlantic records in 1974, peaking at #7. I definitely count this as Halloween music.

Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Stir It Up” – (1973)

This is the oldest song on this little mini-countdown – it was written by Bob Marley in 1967. It wasn’t released by Marley until 1973 – one year after Johnny Nash made it a hit. This song has a very steady and mellow beat. It is a great song to sit in the sun and sip drinks – preferably on a tropical island, or even trapped in a Disney water park.

#1 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Live and Let Die” – (1973)

Not only is this the best Bond theme, it’s one of Paul McCartney’s best solo (non-Beatles) songs. Or maybe you could throw the Beatles in there too; I think it would still stand. It’s awesome – on the radio and definitely live. Many people don’t know that this has any association with James Bond at all and it’s understandable – this is a powerhouse tune that gets a ton of airplay to this day. It definitely takes the award for longevity. It is amazing.