Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1975

Earlier this year, I turned 40.

Don’t cry, it’s not that bad. I’m at the top of my game, in the most creative period of my life, and while the body is starting to give out in some ways, the mind is as sharp as ever.

It’s no secret that I love music, darlings, and so I started thinking about the music that’s been around during my life. Of course, I listen to music from decades before I was born, so unfortunately, I couldn’t include some of the greats on here, like The Beatles, or indeed the best Rolling Stones records, or Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin. None of those great early psychedelic era Jefferson Airplane or Grateful Dead albums.

What I’m about to present are my favourites — albums I actually own, and still listen to. I sometimes had to choose ones that might surprise you, and pass on others that might very well be your favourites — but the truth is, some things hold up and some things don’t, and there are certain genres that I’m just not a fan of.

I started by trying to pick ONE album for the year — but that soon proved impossible. I thought maybe this would just be one post, but instead, I’m going to do 40 of them, starting today. Some years will be longer than others, depending on what came out that year. I’d love for you to share your favourites — nostalgia is fun.

Welcome to 1975, in no particular order..

Bob Dylan – Blood on the tracks

Okay, I’m gonna cheat on this one, because this performance is so amazing, but here’s a clip of Bob performing “Tangled Up in Blue” on the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, which was actually 1976…. but here you go.

David Bowie – Young Americans

The story goes that John Lennon, on his famous “long weekend” where he left Yoko Ono and just went off and hung out in a house with Bowie, Eric Clapton and a bunch of others, doing drugs and whatever…. that Bowie, excited to meet one of his heroes, showed him what he was doing with Young Americans — basically dabbling in American R&B — and Lennon was unimpressed, declaring that he’d already done that… (Apparently John Lennon could be a bit of an asshole.) Nonetheless, they recorded a cover of Across the Universe and this track, which still sounds amazing today. Bully for you… chilly for me… FAME!

Led Zeppelin –  Physical Graffiti

I remember the day I first heard this — I was about 10 years old, and I was enraptured. I fell in love with this song, as well as Games without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel that day, and I love them both to this day.

Alice Cooper – Welcome to my Nightmare

Some people think this is a cheezy album, but Alice Cooper is all about shtick. Here’s a fun track.

Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night

This is my very favourite Neil Young album. It’s so bleak — written and recorded in the wake of roadie Bruce Berry and guitarist Danny Whitten’s deaths from heroin overdoses, Neil Young shelved it, not wanting to release it. After all, he’d just made Harvest, an album that kind of defined him as a folk-rock god. The story goes he had a party and people asked him what he was working on, and he accidentally put the tapes for Tonight’s the Night on, and then apologized and tried to turn it off — people protested and encouraged him to release it.

Frank Zappa – One Size Fits All

Never actually heard Frank Zappa? Or just heard that he’s really weird? Check this album out — this is a good introduction to his work. A sort of jazz-fusion record at times, lots of good instrumentation, like on Sofa No. 1

Fleetwood Mac – Self Titled

Not the first Fleetwood Mac album I discovered. Like everyone else, it was Rumours, but that made me a fan, and this first album of theirs with Lyndsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks at the core has so many great tracks.

Jethro Tull – Minstrel in the Gallery

Grade Nine — I took music class and chose the flute because of Ian Anderson. I never did learn to play the flute.

Pink Floyd – Wish you were Here

Probably my favourite Pink Floyd album. Here’s the whole of Shine on You Crazy Diamond (love that so much I often sign off letters with it) both the first and the second part.

Supertramp – Crisis What Crisis

When I was about 16 I ‘discovered’ Supertramp, and especially loved the Roger Hodgson songs — I scrawled the lyrics to A Fool’s Overture on my desk numerous times, refusing to let it be scrubbed away. This is an underrated album that I still enjoy.

Brian Eno – Another Green World & Discreet Music

Ah, Brian Eno… one of my loves. Check out Sombre Reptiles from Another Green World, and then his first variation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D from Discreet Music

Paul Simon – Still Crazy After all these years

What a great album this is — and the studio musicians that played on it are amazing!

Neil Young – Zuma

A heard a great story about this track — dunno if it’s true, but it’s a great story. Apparently there are more verses, but while they were recording it, a fuse blew or something in the studio, and by the time the engineer got it fixed, he’d missed a verse. When he told Neil about it, Neil asked which verse, and when the engineer told him, Neil responded by saying “Leave it — I never liked that verse anyway.”

Queen – A Night at the Opera

Will you do the fandango?

Patti Smith – Horses

Patti Smith personified “I don’t give a fuck”.


21 responses to “Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1975

  1. I love love love this. You know, the thought occurred to me as I was reading Memoirs 2 (still not done, too much partying in Mehico and not enough reading) that our brains are very similar. Except yours is way smarter and more eloquent and much much wittier. But every once in a while (actually, a lot) a phrase or sentiment would jump out at me and I would be taken aback by how closely it mirrors my thoughts… I hope you take this as a compliment and not an insult…

  2. Wow. Since ’75 happens to be the year I graduated from high school (don’t do the math!), every last one of these hits home big time. I was just listening to “Young Americans” last week, matter of fact, and said to myself, Whoa, this song is embedded in me.

    Can’t wait to see what you serve up for the next 39 years…

    • Daddy? Is that you? (ha ha… ) How are you, Kevin? Settling in to the new place? I had fun reminiscing about some of this — I’ve moved as well, and set up the stereo and have been rediscovering some old vinyl. I think I’ve played King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King about a half dozen times while I finished writing the novel I’ve been working on.

      • Heh heh. Daddy indeed. The Unlucky Teen.

        Among other things from that era I remember too well are Aphrodite’s Child and String Driven Thing. Not to mention The Move, Wishbone Ash, Spooky Tooth, and a host of others. Ah, the musical memories…

        Currently I’m stuck in the summer of ’73 for something I’m working on. My Watergate summer. Oy!

  3. This excites and invigorates me like nothing else!!! I love this genre of music such b indomitable creative force of talent. And not to forget to mention my beloved Fleetwood Mac. Rhiannon wasn’t always my go to song but the more I listen and read the lyrics the more it resonates with me like Songbird and Landslide. Thank you for this walk through my childhood I’m so grateful. This is exactly what my grieving heart needed today. 😃❤️🎶

    • Self Titled/Rumours and Tusk are a sort of defining sound of that time. I love how they straddle the line between infectious pop tunes and truly soulful lyrics and ballads (like Songbird, or Beautiful Child…)

      • I agree so much Tusk to me was all about discovering a new sound of music and the blossoming love affair between Stevie and Lindsey. The soulfulness and beautiful ballads of that time of Rumours takes me to a place where I feel so immersed in the music that nothing or no one can touch me. I just become like an ethereal spirit dancing on each music note. ❤️🎶❤️

  4. I love all of these myself. My post today has the same Queen video. These were the songs playing every day on the radio. Although I was Thirty-four in 1975, I still stuck with the popular stuff. I remember getting my first set of earphones and listening to the mixes up close and personal.

  5. I’m quite enjoying these tunes – been listening off and on all evening. I was five years old in 1975 and learned these tunes and so many others from my teenage uncles and aunts. I have grand memories associated with that time period and the music that goes with it. Looking forward to the rest of these posts!

  6. This is a lovely stroll down sophomore year in high school memory lane. Even if I am not a particular fan of a few of the songs/performers, everyone reminds me of events in my life at the time.

    This is a spectacular idea Helena. I love music and the early 70’s was when I really began choosing what I was going to listen to rather than submit to what my parents liked (although I like their music as well), or what my older sister played in our shared bedroom.

    #Keepwriting 🙂

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