Tag Archives: harry chapin

Music on a Monday // 1974 was a very good year

Yes, a very good year, indeed!

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I have a spreadsheet in the music file on my desktop called “Best Songs.”  I have listed hundreds of songs and the artists’ who sang them, the songs that collectively make up the melody of my life, tracking every possible emotion and moment in time.  Each song represents an era or strong memory.  Some are great, really noteworthy songs and some weren’t that special to anyone else, but they make me happy and stir up a wonderful concoction of highly-desirable happy-neurotransmitters for my brain.

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Everytime I randomly recall a portion of a song I have ever fancied, I throw it on the list.  And when I put the title there, despite the fact that I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, I can remember where I was, what I was doing and who else was there when I heard it playing on the radio so many years ago.  Going over the list a few months back, I realized that there were an inordinate amount of songs from 1974, when I was 14 and attending Harding Junior High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

1974, ahhh the 70s…

Who can know the mind of a fourteen year old girl?  She is silly and coming alive.  She is crushing and seriously in love with love.  She is forward-looking for the amazingly gorgeous hunk who will arrive and sweep her off her feet and they will dance to the romantic hits of the early 70s ~ forever.  *smile

Oh, my.  Yes, 1974 was a very romantic and good year for all that.  “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics (my FAV group at the time) was at the top of my own personal hits list.  And John Denver singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” or “Annie’s Song” (You fill up my senses like night in a forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain…” swoooooon) just got me looking for some one to sing like that to me.  And wasn’t Olivia Newton-John just communicating what my silly-little-heart wanted to pour out to some unknown lover “I honestly…{wait for it}…love you“?  Oh yes, she was!

But 1974 also had some way light-hearted songs that are etched into my memory, like “My Girl Bill,” by Jim Stafford, considered pretty hilarious at the time, I think now would not get any play at, as politically incorrect as it may come across.  Of course, “Seasons in the Sun,” so melodramatically captured our emotional fancies.  And Ray Stevens was even able to turn the streaking fad into a hit single with “The Streak.”  Songs like that preserve history with humor.

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All in all, 1974 was a full-on chorus of melodies and lyrics that really have become “golden” if you’re talking oldies.

I made my list of my top, favorite LOVE-these-1974-songs, and there were about 50.  So, I was forced to edit myself to try to get the list to 20…or 25…and really truly rank them and am listing only my REALLY-SUPER-TOP-FAVORITE-1974 SONGS.  And oh, they just keep jumping past the count-barrier…Numbers 1-7 are probably in order of my TOP favorites, but the rest, just LOVE them all!!!  I have created a YouTube Playlist (for my own fun) that you may feel free to enjoy.  :)  And how could you not?  Enjoy it, I mean. Sooooooooo good!!!

1.  You Make Me Feel Brand New, The Stylistics

They sing “God bless you” in this song, which, preacher’s daughter that I was, gave it extra cachet with me.

2.  Hello, It’s Me, Todd Rundgren

Hello, Todd!  Riding the bus home after school…hoping that guy would call me…This song makes so many of my playlists, it’s ridiculous.  Love.

3.  Best Thing that Ever Happened to me, Gladys Knight and the Pips

This song is just high-quality classic.  I sang it to Dave just after our first anniversary.  He didn’t even know it before then.  Can you imagine?  Not knowing every Gladys-song???  He appreciates it now.

4.  Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Elton John

I wasn’t supposed to be listening to “secular music” but I convinced my mom this was based on the scripture “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” and so she supported me listening to it as she drove me here and there.  And she used it as a teaching moment, the opportunity to present a devotional about never going to bed angry.  Oh, mamala, :)

Didn’t this song get even better when he sang it with George Michael in the 90s?  Just a good song.

5.  I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton

Until Whitney Houston took this song to super-hit status for the film, Bodyguard, in 1992, it was not known quite as widely.  However, I like to think I know a good song when I hear it and I loved this song in 1974 even though I was certainly too young to even understand the full-on passion of it.  The song itself has always-always-always been one of my all-time favorites, and as for Dolly – I like it best of all her work.

5.  Sunshine on My Shoulders, John Denver  —  Annie’s Song, John Denver

Yes, I am cheating.  There are 2.  “Sunshine” was the theme for a movie which was a 1000-level *sniffer based on the true story of a dying mom leaving cassette recorded messages for her baby girl since she wouldn’t be there to raise her.  “If I had a day I could to give you…”  Ah, gentle and sweet!  As for “Annie’s Song,” she was John Denver’s wife, and I have never understood how she could FILL all his senses and then he could divorce her?  But really-check out the words and imagine being in the mountains of Colorado which is what he depicted, and beau-ti-ful!

6.  You’re Having My Baby, Paul Anka  —  One Man Woman/One Woman Man

And I am cheating again.  Two songs for the continually prolific singer/songwriter, Paul Anka, who’d actually started charting hits as far back as when my mom was a teenager.   He hit a whole new audience in the early 70s and his songs were just so singable.  Duets.  I love duets.  I want to sing with all the great people.  Maybe Paul Anka will come to town and call me from the audience to sing with him?  I am ready Paul, for both of these songs!  The show, Glee, covered “You’re Having My Baby” a couple years back.  Slightly less “innocent” version.

7.  I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John  —  If You Love Me, Let me Know, Olivia Newton-John

Omygosh, I cannot be trusted.  Here I am trying to shorten the list and now I have given Olivia Newton-John two songs on my list.  Well, some of these people were just hitting their stride that year, obviously.  My hands are tied.

8.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks

A dying friend is traumatic for a young, teen girl.  Add that the song was French. Bon!  Tres bon!

9.  Rock and Roll Heaven, The Righteous Brothers

“Helluva” band in said rock-n-roll heaven.  My parents would not have been happy.  But these guys sang with such great passion.

10.  Takin’ Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Driving to youth camp, windows down.  Fun to sing and easy to dance to.  Which I was not allowed to do. Haha.

11.  Billy, Don’t be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods

Two words: Bill Roby.  I was fourteen and crushing on the class president like crazy  (he wore size 13 shoes, mine were size 6 and only went to his instep…I know this for we compared them) and a song with his name?  Come on!  Doesn’t matter how lightweight it may have been, it HAS to make my list.

12.  Rock and Roll Baby, The Stylistics

Such a Stylistics fan!  I wanted to have one (a rock-n-roll baby)  and I got him: Rocky!

13.  Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and the Spinners

I really loved early 70s soul music, or rhythm and blues.  Yet Dionne was a classy pop singer.  The  mix makes this song easy and fun to sing along. Happy day.

14.  Good-bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John

Debating the meaning of lyrics ws a fun thing in the 70s.  I am not at all sure what they meant, but you can’t plant me in your penthouse, doggone it!  Don’t even try.

15.  Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Harding Keys even performed this.  They were the dancing-singing early 70s version of Glee Club.  They wore white and chartreuse and were probably just opposite of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  But this song is just so much fun to sing.  I taught it to my kids blasting it on the very good and loud limo stereo in the early 90s.  I am now singing it with my grandkids.  Because it is a song that gets better with age.

16.  Honey Honey, Abba

The lyrics make me blush now, sure.  But then, it was just fun.  “I feel like I wanna sing when you do your thing…”

17.  Angie Baby, Helen Reddy

Oh, how mysterious.

18.  Bennie and the Jets, Elton John

Elton was just prolific!  I remember the girls locker room after PE, all of us sining away getting ready for the next class.

19.  A Love Song, Anne Murray

My dad actually introduced me to Anne Murray, and she, like Karen Carpenter before her, sang in my range. One of the greatest voices ever.

20.  Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins

Passionate pleading.  Please-please-please come here!  This minute!!!

21.  I Love, Tom T. Hall

I wasn’t really able to admit to liking anything country at that time (how uncool it might seem), but this song crossed over, so it was sort of OK.  I love it way more today than then, because now I have experienced some life and he is really right about all the things there are to love. And I love country.  So, there.

22.  Come Monday, Jimmy Buffet

Spring.  Slight breeze…I recall an outdoor art class painting project and this song.

23.  Cat’s in the Cradle, Harry Chapin

The singer-songwriter, thought-provoker-type was waning to a degree (following the folk songs that had shaped social thought in the late 60s), but this one was too powerful to ignore.

24.  The Streak, Ray Stevens

People just got naked and ran through public places and events.  Scandulous!  Ray Stevens gave us an historical and humorous song to remember it by.

25.  Until You Come back to Me (that’s what I’m gonna do), Aretha Franklin

Aretha!  Come on – “Though you don’t call me anymore, I sit and wait in vain…” because every 14-year-old girl was waiting the THE call!  :)

26.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur

I didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded a little naughty.  But you know, Cactus is our friend.  {???}

There.  I have tempered all I can possibly temper.  And if you count accurately, there may or may not be 29  (30?) songs in actuality…

OH, WAIT!!!  I just realized I failed to include Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot //  Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim  //  The Air that I Breathe by The Hollies // or The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace (which my own kids love).  Oh, forget it.  1974 was just an incredible year for music that moved me. 

Here is the playlist, you can listen to it all. or pick and choose.

Dang it!  How can I not add “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” Jim Croce?  And I was not allowed to like Mac Davis’ “One #### of a Woman,” but I actually sort of did/do.  :)

Notably: at least 4 songs from my Telephone-Songs Playlist were from 1974, which may or may not have been a telephone high-usage year for me.

Oh, yes:

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 True story.  Which ones do you love with me???



Good Songs with Suggestions for Living

A list of good tunes that offer tips for life.

Songs can make you feel energized and happy or melancholy and sad.  They can remind you of your best times in life or where you were when you got your first heartbreak.  There are songs for everything, for every mood and emotion, for every season and reason.  And then there are songs that are just jam-packed with good advice for living.  I jotted these titles in my notebook today while I waited parked in the driveway as Averi was snoozing in her car seat.

The Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin

You WILL reap what you sow, so – spend time with your kids.  As they say, “They’ll be picking your nursing home for you someday.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then…


Maybe this song isn’t so much good advice as it is a great reminder about how not to waste your life.

Daughters by John Mayer

On behalf of every man looking out for every girl
You are the guide and the weight of her world
So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too


Totally true!  A girl’s choices in love are so shaped by her dad.  Even when she doesn’t realize how much, a dad’s approval and acceptance, his loving and wise words mean everything!

Teach Your Children Well by Crosby, Stills and Nash

Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.

Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman by Bryan Adams

LINK TO VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeEFHJFUbEg

When you love a woman you tell her that she’s really wanted
When you love a woman you tell her that she’s the one
She needs somebody to tell her that it’s gonna last forever
So tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman?
To really love a woman
Let her hold you –
‘Til you know how she needs to be touched
You’ve gotta breathe her – really taste her
Til you can feel her in your blood
And when you can see your unborn children in her eyes
You know you really love a woman

I love every lyric of this song (even though I couldn’t put them all here) and believe this song should be sung during Promise Keepers meetings.  Seriously.  They wouldn’t let me embed but there are a couple of great videos, the live version I have put the link to above, and the actual video in a Spanish Casino when the song was used for Johnny Depp’s movie, “Don Juan DiMarco.”  Click here, but be warned, it is probably a PG-13 rating http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq2KgzKETBw

I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womak

And this one may be some of the best advice of all, especially for me, a girl who was forbidden the dance, but always knew deep down the Creator loved to see her twirl and dance with joy.  I need this reminder constantly to break the unholy chains wrongly attributed to the Holy One.  {NOTE:  Please pardon LeAnn’s extraneous use of the newly acquired  mammilla, which frankly, in my humble-o, seem a little out of place for the sentiment and style of this video. }

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

What other songs have great advice for me to sing to myself?  List, please.

And please, brother Joe – do NOT say “Put Another Log on the Fire.”  Or else.

never take one breath for granted…