1971: 33 Songs released in 1971 you MUST hear


  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released in 1971
  • Songs from live albums not allowed (that’s another & more complicated list)

Please feel free to publish your own favorite songs from 1971 in the comments section…

AND lists like this are supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously.

My favorite (studio) albums from 1971 include:

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, If Only I Could Remember My Name (David Crosby),  There’s a Riot Goin’ On (Sly & the Family Stone), What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye), Who’s Next (The Who), Tapestry (Carole King),  Shaft: Music from the Soundtrack (Isaac Hayes),  Sticky Fingers (The Rolling Stones), Imagine (John Lennon),  Surf’s Up (Beach Boys),  LA Woman (The Doors),  Coat of Many Colors (Dolly Parton), IV (Led Zeppelin), Every Picture Tells a Story (Rod Stewart), Songs of Love & Hate (Leonard Cohen), Blue (Joni Mitchell), Pearl (Janis Joplin), White Light (Gene Clark), John Prine (John Prine), Nilsson Schmilsson (Harry Nilsson), Hunky Dory (David Bowie), Tupelo Honey (Van Morrison), Jack Johnson (Miles Davis), The Cry of Love (Jimi Hendrix), In Search Of A Song (Tom T. Hall), Crazy Horse (Crazy Horse) & Just as I Am (Bill Withers).

Here we go…

  • When I Paint My Masterpiece – Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 – Released November 17, 1971

    Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
    Ancient footprints are everywhere
    You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
    On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs
    Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
    Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
    She promised that she’d be right there with me
    When I paint my masterpiece

  • Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
    A song by The Rolling Stones from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Rolling Stone ranked it at No. 334 in its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list in 2004.

    Childhood living is easy to do
    The things you wanted I bought them for you
    Graceless lady you know who I am
    You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

  • Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
    A song by the British rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend. It was released as a single in June 1971, reaching the top 10 in the UK, while the full eight-and-a-half minute version appears as the final track on the band’s 1971 album Who’s Next, released that August.

    We’ll be fighting in the streets
    With our children at our feet
    And the morals that they worship will be gone
    And the men who spurred us on
    Sit in judgment of all wrong
    They decide and the shotgun sings the song

  • Imagine – John Lennon
    A song written and performed by the English musician John Lennon. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisiveness of religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions.

    Imagine there´s no heaven
    It´s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

  • Life On Mars? – David Bowie
    A song by David Bowie first released in 1971 on the album Hunky Dory and also released as a single. The song—which BBC Radio 2 later called “a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dalí painting”—featured guest piano work by keyboardist Rick Wakeman. When released as a single in 1973, it reached #3 in the UK and stayed on the chart for thirteen weeks. The song re-entered the UK charts at #55 over 30 years later, largely because of its use in the original British television series Life on Mars. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph ranked it as #1 in his 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

    It’s a God-awful small affair
    To the girl with the mousy hair
    But her mummy is yelling “No”
    And her daddy has told her to go

  • What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
    A song by American recording artist Marvin Gaye, released in 1971 on the Motown subsidiary, Tamla. Originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo “Obie” Benson, the song was composed by Benson, Al Cleveland and Gaye and produced by Gaye himself.

    Mother, mother
    There’s too many of you crying
    Brother, brother, brother
    There’s far too many of you dying
    You know we’ve got to find a way
    To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh

  • A Case Of You – Joni Mitchell
    A song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. It is one of her best-known songs.

    Just before our love got lost you said
    “I am as constant as a northern star” and I said,
    “Constantly in the darkness
    Where’s that at?
    If you want me I’ll be in the bar”

    Just before our love got lost you said
    “I am as constant as a northern star”
    And I said “Constantly in the darkness
    Where’s that at?
    If you want me I’ll be in the bar”
  • Coat of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
    A song written and recorded by American country music singer Dolly Parton, which has been described on a number of occasions as her favorite song she has written. It was released in October 1971 as the second single and title track from the album Coat of Many Colors. She composed the song in 1969, while traveling with Porter Wagoner on a tour bus.

    Back through the years
    I go wonderin’ once again
    Back to the seasons of my youth
    I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
    And how my momma put the rags to use

  • Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen
    A song by Leonard Cohen. It is the sixth track on his third album, Songs of Love and Hate, released in 1971. The song is written in the form of a letter (many of the lines are written in amphibrachs). The lyric tells the story of a love triangle between the speaker, a woman named Jane, and the male addressee, who is identified only briefly as “my brother, my killer.”

    It’s four in the morning, the end of December
    I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
    New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
    There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

  • For A Spanish Guitar – Gene Clark

    The dissonant bells of the sea
    Who are ringing the rhymes of the deep
    As they sing of the ages asleep
    Not so near or so far

  • Hello In There – John Prine

    We had an apartment in the city,
    Me and Loretta liked living there.
    Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown,
    A life of their own left us alone.
    John and Linda live in Omaha,
    And Joe is somewhere on the road.
    We lost Davy in the Korean war,
    And I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore.Chorus:
    Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,
    And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.
    Old people just grow lonesome
    Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

  • Wild Night – Van Morrison

  • The Year That Clayton Delaney Died – Tom T. Hall

    I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died
    They said for the last two weeks that he suffered and cried
    It made a big impression on me, although I was a barefoot kid
    They said he got religion at the end and I’m glad that he did

  • Maggie May – Rod Stewart

  • Tired of Being Alone – Al Green

  • It’s Too Late – Carole King

    Stayed in bed all mornin’ just to pass the time
    There’s something wrong here there can be no denyin’
    One of us is changin’
    Or maybe we’ve just stoppedtryin’And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late
    Though we really did try to make it
    Something inside has died and I can’t hide it
    And I just can’t fake it
    Oh, no no no no
    (No no no no)

  • One’s on the way – Loretta Lynn

    They say to have her hair done Liz flies all the way to France
    And Jackie’s seen in a discotheque doin’ a brand new dance
    And the White House social season should be glittering and gayBut here in Topeka the rain is a fallin’
    The faucet is a drippin’ and the kids are a bawlin’
    One of them a toddlin’ and one is a crawlin’ and one’s on the way

  • Happy XMas (war is over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono

  • Family Affair – Sly & The Family Stone

  • Yesternow – Miles Davis

  • Angel – Jimi Hendrix

  • Laughing – David Crosby

  • When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin

  • I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Crazy Horse

    I can tell by your eyes that you’ve probably been crying forever,
    And the stars in the sky don’t mean nothing to you, they’re a mirror.
    I don’t want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.
    If I stay here just a little bit longer,
    If I stay here, won’t you listen to my heart, ohh my heart?

  • Someday We’ll Look Back – Merle Haggard

    Someday when our dream world finds us
    and these hard times are gone
    We’ll laugh and count our blessings
    in a mansion all our own
    If we both pull together tomorrow’s sure to come
    Someday we’ll look back and say it was fun

  • Rock Steady – Aretha Franklin

  • Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers

    Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
    It’s not warm when she’s away.
    Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
    And she’s always gone too long
    Anytime she goes away.

  • Surf’s Up – Beach Boys

  • Theme From Shaft – Isaac Hayes

  • City Of New Orleans – Steve Goodman

  • Gotta Get Up – Harry Nilsson

  • Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin

  • L.A. Woman – The Doors

Spotify Playlist (with most of the songs):


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