1978 :: The year in music :: Throwback Thursday

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The Best Songs of 1978 by willtopsmusictv

1978At nine years old I started to veer away from just listening to whatever was playing on my Mother’s turntable and began to put aside my children records, and started to turn on the radio instead. I had a clip on AM radio that attached to my bicycle, and when the weather was nice (which, let’s face it, I grew up in Southern California, so the weather was almost always nice) I would bike around our neighborhood listening to the Seventies AM radio offerings. I asked for a radio for Christmas, and got one that came with a single ear bud (still don’t understand why they didn’t come with two back then), and I would pop it in and turn up the sound when riding in the backseat to and from school, and while on day trips on the weekends with my Grandparents.

Looking back, my taste in music did veer into what would now be called the “soft sounds of the Seventies“, well, that and quite a few “Disco” songs. The former style preference came from the rotation of music played on AM radio at the time that I felt I was discovering on my own. The latter taste leanings came directly from my Montessori teacher who held disco dancing contests on Friday afternoons. My friends and I would work hard all week at recesses and lunch perfecting our choreography only to lose, week in and week out, to a girl who would bring her pet bird in and dance with him (yes, I am still a little bitter).

This was the year of Superman and Grease and Dawn of the Dead at the movies. It was the year of Battlestar Galactica (I named all my school fair one fish after characters on the show), Laverne and Shirley (oh how I wanted a sweater with a cursive “L” on it) and Charlie’s Angels (my obsession that year) on the television. I was obsessed with my bicycle and roller skates, with radio, with Princess Leia and all of Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman, and with writing “Nancy Drew” type mysteries in soft-bound notebooks (I wish I still had these). It was the last year of being a single digit in age (9), but longing to be so much older.

Here are my remembered Top 10 songs of 1978. What are some of your favorites from the year?

10. Take a Chance On Me :: Abba

We can go dancing,
we can go walking,
as long as we’re together.
Listen to some music,
maybe just talking,
get to know you better.”

Abba straddled between my musical tastes, hovering somewhere between Disco and Soft Rock, with female singers that I loved to sing-a-long with my hairbrush in hand. They hit on a kind dreamy pop wistfulness that was both wishful and hopeful, and fit right in to my first crush innocence. This was also a great song to roller skate to.

9. Baby Come Back :: Player

Baby come back,
any kind of fool could see,
there was something in everything about you.”

Definitely on the Soft Rock side, this one reminds me immediately of long drives in the back seat of my Grandparents car, or in the back of their RV, listening through that one ear bud as I watched the lights in the sky, or in the city, go by. I didn’t really understand a lot of the emotions behind the lyrics, but in my imagination I could picture the heartbreak of it, at least my version of it. I had an entire story in my head involving Kelly Garrett (Charlie’s Angeles) and Han Solo (Star Wars), and their unrequited love.

8. Surrender :: Cheap Trick

Your Mommy’s all right,
your Daddy’s all right,
they just seem a little weird.”

This one was more Rock than Soft Rock, or Disco, and it also was not a song, or band, that I discovered on the radio. My Mother’s friends had a daughter who was in her teens in 1978, and I thought she was the coolest person I’d ever met. She taught me about french kissing and what the significance of green M&M’s were, and she introduced me to Cheap Trick, whose posters were all over her bedroom wall.

7. Baker Street :: Gerry Rafferty

Another year and then you’d be happy,
just one more year and then you’d be happy,
but you’re crying, you’re crying now.”

This song starts and the first few notes immediately take me back to 1978. I can feel the way I felt that year, I can picture the things around me, the neighborhood, my bedroom, the backseats of my Mother and Grandparents’ cars. This is one of the songs on this list that I grew to love as I got older for the storytelling aspect, and for the entirety of the song, but back in 1978, it was more a song that I remember being everywhere I was, which is why it elicits so much sensory recall.

6. How Deep is Your Love :: The Bee Gees

And you come to me on a Summer breeze,
keep me warm in your love,
and then softly leave.

Saturday Night Fever had come out the year before (not that I was allowed to see it in the theater), and the soundtrack was getting a lot of play in our house, and at school (those disco dancing contests). This song was constantly on my AM radio stations, too, and I adored the romantic-ness of it. Two of my friends and I choreographed a very twirly dance to this one, that including us spinning and dipping each other, dramatically.

5. Love Will Find a Way :: Pablo Cruise

“Oh, but it’s all right,
once you get past the pain,
you’ll learn to find your love again.”

This one was one of my Mom’s favorites in 1978, or at least one of her favorites to play in the house. She used to have parties with our neighbors on the weekends and they would play music late into the night, this one being a popular choice (the whole album, really). Us kids would watch TV, play board games or with Star Wars figures, and one such night we had set-up a makeshift Star Wars Cantina where this was the song the band was playing.

4. Just the Way You Are :: Billy Joel

“I don’t want clever conversation,
I never want to work that hard,
I just want someone that I can talk to.
I want you just the way you are.”

Another Soft Rock love song from my AM radio days that I thought was “oh so romantic“. The lyrics though, as an adult reading them makes my stomach turn a little – I mean, I get the sentiment, but in some ways it seems both limiting, and in the case of the lyrics above, kind of insulting. That said, I know it wasn’t the songs intention, and to my young girl interpretation, I thought it was “unconditional love” in a song.

3. Hot Child in the City :: Nick Gilder

“She goes downtown,
the boys all stop and stare.
When she goes downtown,
she walks like she just don’t care, care.”

Hot Child in the City is one of my favorites to skate to at the roller rink, and one of the first 45’s I ever bought. I would go on to love this song even more when it was a favorite played at a “Seventies” themed club in Hollywood I frequented in the late 80’s. On a more current note, this is my go-to karaoke song.

2. Last Dance :: Donna Summer

Last dance,
last dance for love.
Yes,
it’s my last chance
for romance,
tonight.”

Another spinning, swirling and dipping song for those disco dancing contests, my friends and I loved the tempo change that kicks in after the slow, heavily “romantic” start. This was also the song that the boy and his bird would dance to, and always take the trophy with. Though, admittedly, I had a crush on said bird boy and was once lucky enough to practice dancing with him, sans bird (I was beyond thrilled, but still went on “hating” him for stealing the contest every week later — at least to my friends).

1. A Little More Love :: Olivia Newton-John

Where, where did my innocence go?
How, how was a young girl to know?”

Though I could have picked one of the songs from Grease for this list, it was really the next year (1979) that my friends and I went crazy for that soundtrack. Olivia Newton-John was my idol, and I loved her style and her music, and her. Somewhere I have an autographed picture from 1978 that she (or really her fan club) sent after I wrote her my one and only ever penned fan letter.