Thursday, December 11, 2008


You know, some songs just define a generation.

It's different for everybody, I suppose.

But I hear this, and I'm instantly back in 1967, surrounded by long haired Hippies, bell bottoms, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, and some truly great music (yes, yes, some truly horrific music too - not nearly has horrific as what would come in the '70s though and I'm not just talking about Billy Don't Be a Hero, but Disco is a totally separate post, on another blog, far far away from here).

Originally written by Darby Slick of Great Society, Somebody to Love was performed by the band around the San Fransisco Bay Area throughout 1966. Great Society included Darby's sister in law, Grace Slick who sang vocals and played piano. The song didn't get much notice outside of the hippie club scene and would most likely have faded away in a cloud of pot smoke along with Great Society, except Grace departed the band in 1967 (and departed Darby's brother too) and joined Jefferson Airplane - and she took the song with her, along with her own tune, White Rabbit.

Somebody to love became Jefferson Airplane's first big hit, charting at #5 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Frankly I can't think of a single song from the 70's, 80's, or 90's that transports me back in time the way this tune does. And I'm not sure the new century even has music anymore - I suspect the kids nowadays just pipe psuedo-randomly modulated microwave energy directly into their brainstems from their iPods. Really. I suppose I think of the 70's when I hear anything by the (shudder) Bee Gees - in a Hey! Wasn't I getting a root canal when this song came out sort of way - I can't listen to that falsetto crap, I turn the radio down, not up the way I do with 60s tunes. I hated the 70s, really, especially the music - well that and paisley.

I think that officially makes me old.

But you know what? I officially don't care.

So, what songs define a decade for you?


  1. Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't alive in 1967.


    I don't know about a decade, but every time I hear Def Lepard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" I'm back in high school, it's a brilliantly hot and sunny day, and I'm sitting at the top of the hill in the grass at the public pool watching the kids I'm baby sitting to make sure they don't down, and talking with my classmate Brett through the chain link fence and wishing he thought I was cute (as opposed to more of an annoying little sister which is what all my male friends thought.)

    Hot sun and sweetness and angst all rolled into one.

  2. A remarkable amount of "70s" music actually came from the 60s. And later, the stuff I listened to in the 80s came from the part of the 70s where "disco" never became part of the vernacular. Late 80s, when MTV actually played music -- which one could listen to.

    Hey you damned kids, get off my lawn!

    Then there's the music in Hideous Kinky, starring Kate Winslet, of course. (No, it's not what you think it is.)

    Another standard candle: a lot of good music was stuffed onto 8-track tapes. (shudder) (ker-klunk!) (continue playing as if nothing happened)

    Kids don't know nothin' today. I try an' teach 'em cultural relevancy, but they don't get it.

    Dr. Phil

  3. I have girl-love for Grace Slick.


  4. The 70s were not that bad. Skynyrd et al.

  5. The 70s really only sucked when good musicians tried their hands at disco. Rod Stewart and KISS come to mind, both of them insist that if they ever had the chance again.....

    Zeppelin, Skynard, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rush, (had to get a Canadian one in there) and much more didn't suck. Their music founded this generation in music and sound. As far as I'm concerned disco was a zit on the face of the great cultural revolution the 60s brought in and the 70s carried through. My kids now listen to classic rock instead of Rap, the new zit on music. I couldn't be more proud.

  6. Oh yeah, Grace rocked!

  7. To answer the question

    Songs that evoke an era (not necessarily my faves, but like Michelle describes, creates a snapshot impression for me of that period)

    70s - Hotel California
    80s - Hungry Like The Wolf
    90s - Closing Time
    00s - Back To Black

  8. Thanks for posting the video Jim, I love that song, even if I wasn't around to enjoy it then.

    If we didn't have the 70s, then we wouldn't have 'All Things Must Pass,' one of my three 'if I were stranded on a deserted island and I somehow had the means to play music' albums.

    The only decade defining song I can think of at the moment is 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' for the 90s, although I wasn't ever a Nirvana fan.

  9. I can never listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit without hearing Weird Al Yankovich's Smells Like Nervana.

    If you want to know what the biggest songs of a decade are, look to Weird Al's playlist. (grin)

    Amish Paradise. (sn*cker)

    Dr. Phil

  10. If you want to know what the biggest songs of a decade are, look to Weird Al's playlist.

    That is an excellent observation, Phil.

    I still like "Eat it" better than the original Jackson song it parodies - and the video is priceless.

  11. "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon makes me 13 again.

    I think Elton John dominated the 70s.


  12. You can make any decade look like Utter Suck with the right (or maybe that should be "wrong") playlist. We associate the '60s with The Beatles and The Stones, et al., but the decade also produced Herman's Hermits, The Monkees, and other bastions of mediocrity.

    I feel obliged to point out that the Bee Gees '60s output included, ironically, some real gems like "To Love Somebody" and "I Can't See Nobody."

    I think defining-moments wise, it's hard for me to hear anything from Floyd's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason without a flashback to '88-'89, and U2's Achtung Baby will always evoke being a college freshman.

  13. U2's Achtung Baby will always evoke being a college freshman.

    Achtung Baby came out in 1991, Eric, I'd been in the Navy for 8 years by then. Thank the gods that Nathan is older (slightly) than I am, and so is Dr. Phil - because otherwise I'd have to kill you. :)

  14. And it's not that I can't recognize the BeeGee's talent, it's just that I can't stand their voices. I just detest that high falsetto squeal. But then I feel the same way about Chicago - argh, it's like a nail through my frontal lobes. Arghhhh!

  15. God what a VOICE that woman had.

    I think nothing defined the 80's like Hot For Teacher and Welcome To The Jungle.

  16. I don't mind a good falsetto: Roy Orbison and Thom Yorke are two of my favorite vocalists. (You know who else has an incredible falsetto and you wouldn't think it in a million years? The Boss. He's been bringing it out in live shows for a while now, and he really can sell it.)

    No argument on Chicago's Grand Mal Suckage--but that has more to do with them being tremendous tremulous wusses than it does with Peter Cetera's high-pitched whine. Chicago is the musical equivalent of being suffocated in a vat of high-fructose corn syrup.

    In all fairness, I have to confess that some of the props I give the Bee Gees are filtered through Nina Simone, who did incredible covers of both "To Love Somebody" and "I Can't See Nobody." They may have written the songs and done good versions, but Nina's versions are Nina.

  17. I suppose now would be a bad time to mention that I was a high school junior in 1991 ... and Chicago was one of my favorite bands. >.>

  18. (slides a little further away from MTW)

  19. Yes, MWT, now would be a bad time to mention that - as I'm feeling quite old and arthritic and in pain and grumpy at the moment :)

  20. Yeah, it is, MWT. But mostly because of the Chicago thing.



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