As fall turns to winter and the hectic holiday season approaches, it is a perfect time to enjoy a quiet moment, either in solitude or with a special someone. No era provides a better soundtrack for such times as the oft-misunderstood and underappreciated 1970's. So, throw another log on the fire, pour a little more Sherry in that snifter and enjoy the smooth, mellow sounds of the 70's with me.
8. "Summer Breeze" - Seals & Croft. Ultimate 70's lyric: "Blowing with the jasmine in my mind"
Think of this as a romantic "We Didn't Start the Fire", as a bucolic Friday evening scene is set in rapid-fire fashion. Never has one been implored to "see the curtains hanging from the window" with such urgency. I have seen this song described in multiple places as a "guilty pleasure". Well, I am here to overturn that verdict. Play this song on your porch in late August with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and allow your conscience to rest easy, as no crime has been committed.
7. "Sometimes When We Touch" - Dan Hill. Ultimate 70's lyric: "I want to hold you 'till I die, 'till we both break down and cry."
How do you take possibly the cheesiest song of the 70's and pour another layer of melted Velveeta all over it? Make it the favorite of a tonally-challenged Filipino boxing champion. Manny Pacquiao reclaimed this lost gem as his own, singing it everywhere but karaoke night at the Luna Lounge, including on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and eventually released a remake with the help of Hill himself (best 99 cents I ever spent in the iTunes store, by the way). This song is so amazingly and impossibly cheesy, my vegan wife can't listen to it.
6. "Cool Night" - Paul Davis. Ultimate 70's lyric: "I sometimes wonder why all the flowers have to die."
Before there was the booty text, there was the booty call. Preceding that, apparently, was the booty ballad. What on the surface seems to be an invitation for an innocent snuggle by the fire is really nothing more than a desperate plea for one last romantic interlude from an estranged lover. Davis even makes it clear this is not to be a permanent reunion with "if it don't feel right, you can go" (Translation: After it's over, you have ten minutes to get out of here). What a cad. 5. "Sentimental Lady" - Bob Welch Ultimate 70's lyric: "We live in a time when paintings have no color, words don't rhyme."
Finally, a tune celebrating love that is, not love that was or could be again for a night. Bob Welch demonstrates how much he values his current bliss within the always-tenuous state of love with "You are here today, but easily you might just go away." Maybe if more of these balladeers spent more time appreciating their loves when they were together, they wouldn't have to so desperately plead for reconciliation.
4. "Hello, It's Me" - Todd Rundgren. Ultimate 70's lyric: "I come around to see you once in a while, or if I ever needed a reason to smile."
A light, breezy song that utilizes many of the standard tropes of the era: background horns, electric piano, lament of love lost and nudging the door ajar for a potential reunion. This song also features what may be the only studio-recorded flub around the three-minute mark (unless the entire Kevin Federline album can be classified as a studio-recorded flub). Rundgren benevolently takes fault for taking his former love for granted and declares "it's important to me, that you know you are free." However, just when it seems that Rundgren has no ulterior motives, he very casually slips in "and spend the night if you think I should." These '70s crooners truly know no shame.
3. "We're All Alone" - Rita Coolidge. Ultimate 70's lyric: "On the shore a dream will take us out to sea"
Whereas many songs of this genre seem to be written specifically to one person, "We're All Alone" deals strictly in generalities and vagaries. Phrases like "it will be all right" and "let it all begin" aren't exactly calls to action, but it's Coolidge's powerful voice that makes "We're All Alone" a great listen. That being said, Coolidge was an attractive lady, but probably not so much so to justify the line "close your eyes and dream, and you can be with me." This classic tune has had several released versions, including one by Boz Scaggs that is to unintentional comedy what Louis C.K. is to intentional comedy. 2. "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" - England Dan and John Ford Coley. Ultimate 70's lyric: "There's a warm wind blowing the stars around"
Beginning with one side of a simulated conversation between former romantic partners "Hello...yeah, it's been a while...not much, how about you?", England Dan and John Ford Coley are playing right out of the patented Paul Davis playbook. Ever clever, they go as far as listing some of their platonic options "go walking through a windy park, take a drive along the beach, or stay at home and watch TV", but take a look at these smooth operators - do you really think that is what they are after here? At least Dan and Coley make their no-strings-attached motivations clear, telling this lucky lady that they "won't ask for promises" and they aren't "talking about moving in". I just hope the recipients of this call were able to resist this impossible temptation and not fall in love with them again.
1. "I Love You" - Climax Blues Band. Ultimate 70's lyric: "Since then, I never looked back. It's almost like living a dream."
The most underrated wedding slow-dance song of all-time, this heartfelt ballad seems out of place when interspersed with the over-the-top schmaltz of the era. Here, a former wayward soul whose pastimes as "a younger man" were "fooling around, hitting the town, growing my hair" honestly and earnestly thanks his now-wife for "straightening out my life". The song is classic 70's for its loopy guitars, electric piano and vocal harmonizing, but it is a truly beautiful love note from a man to his wife. Husbands, put it on a playlist for your wife and thank me later.
These songs are so hot, I had to remove my Naugahyde blazer and adjust my red velour turtleneck. If this hasn't inspired you to make a trip down to the iTunes Store, perhaps you will grow a mustache and mutton chops or feather up your hair Farrah Fawcett-style. We have hardly scratched the surface of these wondrous sounds of the '70s, so I will see you again by the fire.
Follow Dave Geeting on Twitter @thegeeter.
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