1971 #1s: my first year in college

overly Osmond

Three Dog Night.1972
Three Dog Night.1972

The year 1971 was hugely significant in my musical listening development. For one thing, it was my first year in college, my initial time away from home, meeting new people my age and a little older.

There is a book entitled Never A Dull Moment about that year in music, and I wrote at least ten posts about that tome. Some of these songs are great! And then…

Joy To The World – Three Dog Night. #1 for six weeks, gold record. Was Jeremiah REALLY a bullfrog?

Maggie May Maggie May – Rod Stewart. #1 for five weeks., gold record. From the popular album, Every Picture Tells A Story.
It’s Too Late – Carole King. #1 for five weeks, gold record. From the absurdly popular Tapestry album. If you didn’t own this, then your roommate had to.
One Bad Apple – the Osmonds. #1 for five weeks, gold record. Trying to sound like the Jackson Five.

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart – the BeeGees. #1 for four weeks, gold record. Part of that brief resurgence, along with Lonely Days, before falling on commercial hard times. They’d be back.

Knock Three Times – Dawn. #1 for three weeks. Not the dishwashing detergent but the trio fronted by Tony Orlando.
Brand New Key – Melanie. #1 for three weeks, gold record. “Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far.”
Go Away, Little Girl  – Donny Osmond. #1 for three weeks, gold record. Steve Lawrence went to #1 with this in 1963.
Family Affair – Sly and the Family Stone. #1 for three weeks, gold record. I feel stoned every time I hear this.

The #1s for two weeks

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves – Cher. Gold record. Would the first word now be Roma or the Romani?
Just My Imagination – the Temptations. The third #1 for the group, as Eddie Kendrick is going out the door.
Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes. Gold record. We can dig it.
Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin. The second posthumous #1 pop song.
Brown Sugar – the Rolling Stones. I bought Sticky Fingers and Tapestry on the same day in July 1971. The zipper really worked!

#1s for a single week

Indian Reservation – the Raiders. Platinum record. A very earnest record by the artists formerly known as Paul Revere and… 
The Want Ads – the Honey Cone. Gold record. “Extra, extra!”
You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor. Gold record. Of course, a Carole King song.
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul and Linda McCartney. Gold record. From the Ram album. With the Beatles gone, I was always happy to see the solo artist chart.

Parade magazine’s best songs of 1971.

Book review: Never A Dull Moment

Jimmy Page explained, “The audiences were becoming bigger and bigger but moving further and further away.”

I received the David Hepworth book Never a Dull Moment – 1971: The Year That Rock Exploded two days before Christmas. I finished the 286-page book before New Years Day.

The premise is that the pop period ended with the Beatles signing essentially their divorce papers from each other on 31 December 1970. Hepworth, who turned 21 in 1971, says that year saw “an unrepeatable surge of musical creativity, technological innovation, naked ambition, and outrageous good fortune that combined to produce music that still crackles today.” The era of rock was born.

Sometimes, he would make references to other cultural events of the time that seemed random, but eventually, it would somehow connect. Hepworth used a few Britishisms that I did not initially pick up on, but I figured out most of them in context.

The book is arranged by month. The albums referred to in that period might have been recorded then, or released then, or the artist was on tour. And not all would become internationally famous. In March, Led Zeppelin was doing tours in small clubs, because as Jimmy Page explained, “The audiences were becoming bigger and bigger but moving further and further away.” Meanwhile, Nick Drake was well-regarded but lacked the stage charisma to become the success his talent might have suggested.

The May chapter details the Rolling Stones’ move to France. “Sex and drugs and rock n’ roll” were never more true. The year Mick Jagger got married did not seem to alter his omnivorous appetites. Meanwhile, Carly Simon was linked romantically to Cat Stevens and others. Later chapters touch on unlikely pairings, such as Leonard Cohen sleeping with Janis Joplin, though he later regretted writing a song about it.

Many things we now take for granted were born in this era. The benefit concert was born with George Harrison’s efforts on behalf of the people in Bangladesh. Since it had never been done before, certainly on that massive scale, mistakes were made, and George became a resource for those planning similar ventures.

Greatest hits albums became much more lucrative, from the Stones and the Who, for instance, presaging the unlikely resurgence of the Beach Boys’ catalog a couple of years later.

I’d write more, but I’ve decided instead to write about some of the albums of the period, and my reaction to them, once a month – I’m already behind!

If you enjoy the albums of the period, and it’s likely that you probably do, even if you were born years after ’71, you’ll enjoy Never A Dull Moment, which has been positively reviewed everywhere I checked, after reading it, of course. I lived through the period and I learned quite a bit.

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