This is it, the final chapter in My Favorite Songs from 1973 countdown. The end of the line. Thanks for coming along on the voyage and especially for all of your comments. Next month: 1976! In case you missed them, I have previously listed my favorite albums from 1973, 1982, 1983 and 1985 as well as my favorite singles from 1978 and 1982, with more years to follow throughout 2016 as I celebrate My Favorite Decade for Music, the glory years of 1973-1982.
Dad had received the David Essex Rock On album through Columbia House and I remember it as one of the first albums I ever snuck on his turntable while he was at work. Listening with his big Panasonic headphones over my ears, coiled cord stretched out as I maintained an ever-vigilant watch out the basement window for his Chevelle to pull in and stop inches short from my bicycle at back of carport. I listened to the first four cuts and was just about to give up on the album when the Bowie-esque "Rock On" faded in with that wonderful guitar stutter and then ping-ponged between my little eight (or nine) year old ears. And that bass line! Lawd have mercy! Have loved the song ever since though I never had the pleasure of hearing it on the radio until sometime in the early Eighties while at a pool party. That experience was a memorable one and as you may have guessed, the song is a permanent fixture on my poolside playlist. Witness Essex singing "Rock On" live to tape on The Midnight Special from November 23, 1973.
Speaking of Bowie-esque and bass lines, I'd like to enter into evidence "Walk On The Wild Side". Lou Reed's lyrical poetry is given a deceptively sweet jazz-light arrangement, complete with backing vocals from the "colored girls" and that sax solo, by producer David Bowie's childhood sax teacher no less, makes for a deliciously wicked, and yes, subversive slice of rock. One of the few songs whose stature was increased in my mind by its inclusion in commercials because of its controversial lyrics though the raciest bits are always edited out don't you know. Great late night driving song or chilling on a Sunday morning song.
Regrettably, this was another later find during my initial Who fixation while I was in high school. Hipped to the band and the Quadrophenia album in particular by the guy at Hollywood Records, I bought the double album and dubbed it to a SA90 and spent a solid week riding the bus to and from school, loving the album as it unfolded song by song over and over through my cheap little orange foam covered headphones that I bought to replace the ones that came with my Walkman because I didn't like the way they fit. The first time I got to end of the second side of the tape and heard "Love Reign O'er Me", I rewound and played it over maybe a dozen times. It sounded so good, all the little details and embellishments coming alive in my head. Still enjoy the simple majesty of the music, the desperate beauty of the lyrics and the overall sound of the recording. The song was covered rather capably by Pearl Jam for a soundtrack to a film I never saw and as far as I can tell the studio recording of the song is only available in a physical format via a limited pressing 45 for the band's fan club in 2006. I have yet to pay $20 for a 45 and I am not about to start down that slippery slope just yet.
As many haters of "Playground In My Mind" will tell you, the kiddie chorus and duet vocals are insufferable. As such a kiddie when I heard it, I though it was fantastic and I remember it crystal clear as the second song I ever heard on Dad's car stereo in what is probably my earliest memory. Period. Year after year the song loses its luster and appeal to me. It is pure and simple joyful nostalgia that keeps it ranked as high it is. Plus that damn melody sticks in my head for days after hearing it.
Such a funky groove on "What Is Hip?", the song answers its own question. My most recent memory of this song is showing up early for a junior high basketball game around the turn of the century when both my boys were still hooping it up, so early that the wooden bleachers hadn't even been pulled out from the walls in the gym yet. They were mechanized so the few of us eager parents that were there made our way to the block wall behind one of the rims after it was lowered from the ceiling and the janitor (?) told us to wait while he brought the bleachers out. He then disappeared and in a minute, music began playing over the gymnasium PA system and the bleachers from both walls began their slow extension. The third or maybe fourth song played was "What Is Hip?" and it coincided with that janitor, an older Mexican man that looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, taking the court with a giant dust mop that he used to clean the court from side to side and then end to end, doing these slight little dance moves as the song played. Clearly, he was a connoisseur, knew the song intimately and we were listening to his personal mixtape. The song, the last of the music, ended before his task was complete but by then the stands were filling up and the players were coming out of locker room and warming up. See the mighty Tower at the peak of their Powers stretch out on "What Is Hip?" in this live clip from the November 17, 1973 airing of Soul Train.
My research turned up no evidence of a single release of the studio version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" but of the four gems on the band's debut album, it is the song that resonates more and more with me as the years pass while "Tuesday's Gone", "Gimme Three Steps" and the immortal "Free Bird" fade just a little with that same passage of time. With my Dad serving away from us for half of my first 10 years of life, I was pretty much raised by my Mom and my two grandmothers. Though the three women had wildly different styles of nurturing, I turned out okay for the most part, though my wife, daughter and mother-in-law continue to put the finishing touches on me. I like to think of myself as the simple kind of man the song alludes to but I know it's not the whole truth.
I'm not 100% positive but I feel that every Spinners song I absolutely adore is a joyous hymn to love and as the wise men say "All You Need Is Love". Like the Skynyrd album above, the Spinners self-titled album is riddled with strong songs, all favorites of mine but in a winner take all showdown, I'm going with "One Of A Kind (Love Affair)" as my favorite Spinners song from 1973. A radio favorite, the song experienced a bit of controversy due to singer Phillip Wynne's phrasing and vocal style. Seems some people heard a curse word where there was none and the record company edited out the supposedly offensive passage. The image of the 45 label above is one of the unnecessarily censored and shortened singles though the Spotfy link above is to the original album version. It should also be noted that the song was produced, arranged and conducted by Thom Bell with MFSB providing the musical backing. Tom Moulton has also done a remix of "One Of A Kind (Love Affair)", reworking the song's feel a little bit, just enough that it throws me off each time I hear it.
"Loves Me Like A Rock", more than almost any other song I have ever heard, reminds me of my relationship with my Mom. It's not based on a particular memory or anything but rather a general fantasy and wizened awakening. She gave up college and a bright future because I came along and while growing up that felt and sounded like she resented me, I now know she sacrificed her unknown future life of untold riches and never ending happiness to be my Mom and that is what she feels she was always meant to do. The meager rewards she receives are special only to her and now as a parent of three grown children myself, I know exactly just how invaluable those rewards are as I continue to amass them on a daily basis. Love you, Mom and thanks for everything.
"Let's Get It On" has nothing to do with the formalities of love. It is pure unadulterated S-E-X, often imitated but never duplicated. (Sorry, Jack Black. A for effort and execution though.) It is amazing to me that this song was on the radio back in 1973 and it still gives me that warm fuzzy feeling whenever I hear it. You know the one.
Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" may be one of the ten best love songs of all time. Though it's kind of a weird love song isn't? He's having doubts. Maybe, she's too good? It's basically a break-up phone call. The version I heard in 1973, the version I love to this day, was not even the first version which was a slower, much less romantic take on the song by Todd's former band Nazz in 1968. And it wasn't even sung by him. The whole structure of the song lifts me up cause you know I have been insecure in relationships, from the Jimmy Smith-inspired organ riff to the horns (courtesy of the Brecker Brothers) to the backing vocals (which included Vicki Sue Robinson.) Think there is a That 70's Show connection to this song but it slips my mind. Anyone? Don't miss Rundgren as "a man-eating peacock" on The Midnight Special from December 7, 1973.
Of the many magical and wonderful songs I heard repeatedly on the fabled Cow Talk jukebox, "The Lord Knows I'm Drinking" is the one that I simply cannot explain - I just love it. I have since heard it at a wedding reception, a BBQ joint in Arkansas and even on another jukebox drowned out by the cacophony of pool tables in a darkened hall on the other side of
town the world. Love Cal's delivery, the pumping polka beat and the calling out of the hypocritical "self-righteous woman" but most of all I guess I dig the fact that the song's narrator has the same intimate relationship with "the Good Lord" that I do. But then again that's none of your damn business. I vaguely remember seeing Cal perform "The Lord Knows I'm Drinking" on The Porter Wagoner Show in 1973. My ninety-two year old Paw-Paw still watches reruns of The Porter Wagoner Show and Hee-Haw on RFD which is, as far as he is concerned, the only channel on his TV. Sadly, it is not among the ten thousand channels the little copper cable brings into my own home.
Carly Simon is a mystery to me. In the right mood and the right light, I find her attractive. But then other times, I have to look away. Her singing can be both good and bad though I choose to only remember the good. "You're So Vain" represents everything I love about Carly Simon - beauty, intelligence and thinly veiled vengeful snarkiness. The song is top notch on every level and though I was never one of those people caught up in the guessing game of who it was written about - where's the fun in that? - I do admire the way she has encouraged continued interest through the years and reportedly auctioned off the name of the song's protagonist for charity, whispering the enigmatic name into one lucky winner's ear with those amazingly large lips of hers when I knew the answer all along. I'm so vain and she wrote it about the six year old me as I was quite a narcissist back then. What, you think she told the truth?
Turns out there was a Fleetwood Mac before Fleetwood Mac. I don't know about you guys and gals, but the twin towers of Fleetwood Mac and Rumours ruled our the radios and record players in our family home for like five years in the Seventies, at least until the dawn of the new decade. And then I heard "Hypnotized" one night on KLPX in 1981, way back before they surrendered their entire weeknights to Alice Cooper's syndicated show. No idea who it was at the time as it wasn't back announced, I didn't have my trusty Soundhound app and most importantly, there was no Internet to look it up. I didn't hear that song again for years and basically forgot all about it until I heard it in three different places in a single day: grocery store in the morning, sandwich shop for lunch and then that third place (mall? theater?) which I forget but it was three places like a sign from a higher power or something. Fortunately, I had Soundhound and it clued me in right quick. Ordered appropriately titled Mystery To Me CD when I got home and have been enjoying the song ever since. The album? Not so much.
Like Rundgren did four songs above, the Isley Brothers covered themselves when they took another stab at "Who's That Lady" almost ten years after its original release; this time filtering it through the musical styles and innovations that had occurred in the decade that passed and adding a new generation, a new perspective, to the long-running family business. The rhythm is funkier, the vocals tighter, the groove smoother and then there's Ernie Isley's fuzzy, phased guitar work pushing and pulling the song forward. "That Lady" is a cool breeze on a Summer day that will blow you away. Watch the Brothers Isley jam on "That Lady" and "Live It Up" in an appearance from the December 12, 1974 episode of Soul Train.
When I finally get around to building my dream jukebox - a giant glass-topped, quarter-gobbling monstrosity with an upgraded speaker/DAC setup along with a couple of huge 4TB hard drives with one mirroring the other for back-up, a couple of USB ports and Bluetooth & Airplay capabilities for accessibility - it will be the new centerpiece of The Hideaway 6.0, one of the first 45s to be loaded will be the one pictured directly above: "Band On The Run" b/w "Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five" (Apple 1873). I will play both sides a few times before moving on to the rest of the selections. It is one of those perfect singles in my book, encapsulating the album by including the first and last tracks opposite of one another. While I will focus on acquiring other two-sided singles born of happenstance and the decisions of others, I will not shy away from the contrived double sided hit re-pressings bearing labels like Collectables, Hall Of Fame (CBS), Spun Gold (Elektra/Asylum), Yesteryear (Motown), Remember Series (20th Century), Forget Me Nots (A&M), Timepieces (Polygram) and Back To Back Hits (Warner Brothers) among others. The object is not collectibility or market value but having the music I want. There are two lyrical lines that leap out at me every single time I listen:
- "Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash/As we fell into the sun"
- "Well, the night was falling/As the desert world began to settle down"
And I can't stop listening even as I transition from The Hideaway 2.0 to the new enlarged and improved digs of The Hideaway 3.0.
Another Cow Talk jukebox greatest hit that has never failed to disappoint. Laid back southern soul with pop ambitions, it reminds me of "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay", "A Change Is Gonna Come" and just about every Staple Singers song ever. It's not that Dobie Gray's voice recalls those classic songs or that the lyrics are lofty and ambitious; the song from beginning to end just gives off that vibe. Your mileage may vary. While I may have enjoyed Uncle Kracker's cover in the past, we've since become estranged, drifting apart as it were. Still love the covers by Steppenwolf's John Kay and Seventies-era Rod Stewart. Also enjoy the versions by Roy Orbison and the Neville Brothers. Watch Dobie "Drift Away".
Holy smokes, does this song scorch or what? Billy Gibbons brings his best blues voice, fat chords and rip-roarin' solos while Dusty Hill and Frank Beard lock in that rhythm in what is probably the most rocking song ever written and recorded about a house of ill repute. I (almost) always listen to music at extreme volumes and as soon as the intro comes in on "La Grange", I turn the knob a little more to the right, anticipating the :35 mark when it kicks into overdrive. Definitely an Uncle Sam favorite in his younger days - ZZ Top was pretty much required listening for Texas males between the ages of 12-70 back in the Seventies. Billy stopped by Daryl's House and "La Grange" is one of seven songs they performed together in episode 63 of the long-running series.
First heard "Heartbeat - It's A Lovebeat" in 1976 and finally scored a Remember Series 45 of the song a few years later. Then I added an original 1973 pressing of the song some years after that. Just the other weekend, I picked up yet another copy of that single, this time with a picture sleeve! The sleeve (that's my scan to the left) and the record are in like new condition, near mint save for the price sticker (applied by the store where I bought it) and someone has written 35 on the upper right of the front of the picture sleeve, above the price tag, and also on the a-side of the single as well. Other than that, both the label and the vinyl are clean with absolutely no signs of aging or wear. It became my new favorite single all over again last week though I only gave it one spin on the turntable. Watch The DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco make their prime time "television debut" on Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special from January 24, 1974. I put it in quotation marks because they had appeared on a few daytime shows before the Benny show was taped on December 15–16, 1973. All total, the DeFrancos appeared on nearly twenty television shows in a twelve month period spanning 1973-1974 and then they were gone.
Though I had heard "Love's Theme" on the radio many times since 1973, I was always under the impression it was some stuffy orchestra who adopted the name purely for sales purposes. When I discovered a few years later that it was Barry White's backing band, I was not really that surprised as his records have always sounded grander than just about everything else on the radio and the Love Unlimited Orchestra certainly explained why that was. I was very surprised to learn that there was a vocal performance of "Love's Theme" by Barry's backing vocalists, Love Unlimited, and now that I know about, I try to avoid it. When I dream of my wife, and I dream about her more than any other woman, "Love's Theme" is always playing in the background. It is the song I hear when I see her from across the room or gaze deep into her brown eyes as I hold her close - "Love's Theme" is her theme, our theme. Several of my friends that were disco jockeys back in the Seventies take credit for breaking this song in the clubs, creating overwhelming listening demand for it on the radio. One such gent, who goes by DJDiscoCat on YouTube, has shared his own gently extended, Disco Purrfection Version of "Love's Theme".
This is it, my favorite song from 1973. Al Wilson's "Show And Tell" is the first song I ever remember hearing on the radio but more than that, it is just a first-rate laid back Seventies soul song and you know I love me some of that. Words simply cannot express how much this song means to me, how it affects me when I hear it or how the jumbled images that flash in my brain as my many disjointed memories fight to make themselves clear so I just have to let the tippy-top ranking speak for me. You know those scenes in movies and television shows when someone surprises a loved one with a musical performance of their favorite song by the original artist? My song and artist would be Al Wilson's "Show And Tell" and though he passed in 2008, Wilson left us with this timeless recording and this appearance on Soul Train from November 24, 1973.
The Daily Deuce's
Grant from Australia's
thanks to my fellow contributors at discogs for their 45 scans
and all the YouTube posters for sharing their video treasures
and, last but not least, a big thanks to Mike'sArcade.com for the jukebox title strip creator