- Only one song per artist/group
- The song must be released that specific year
- Songs from live albums not allowed
- Restricted to only 20 songs
A lot of wonderful music was released in 1979, here are my 20 chosen songs.
And the Healing Has Begun – Van Morrison
Released on his 1979 album, Into the Music.
And we’ll walk down the avenue again
And we’ll sing all the songs from way back when
And we’ll walk down the avenue again and the healing has begun
And we’ll walk down the avenue in style
And we’ll walk down the avenue and we’ll smile
And we’ll say “baby, ain’t it all worthwhile?” when the healing has begun
I want you to put on your pretty summer dress
You can wear your Easter bonnet and all the rest
And I want to make love to you yes, yes, yes, when the healing has begun
London Calling – The Clash
Released as a single from the band’s 1979 double album London Calling. This apocalyptic, politically charged rant features the band’s famous combination of reggae basslines and punk electric guitar and vocals.
London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don’t look to us
Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain’t got no swing
‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
I´m kind of bending my rules a bit on this one…
Released on “Rust Never Sleeps” – July 2, 1979, by Reprise Records. Most of the album was recorded live, then overdubbed in the studio.
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It’s better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.
Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you’re gone,
you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue
and into the black.
Slow Train – Bob Dylan
The song first appeared on his 1979 album Slow Train Coming. In the United States, it was released as the follow up single to “Gotta Serve Somebody.” It was also released as the lead song from Dylan’s 1989 live album with the Grateful Dead, Dylan & the Dead. Music critic Paul Williams has called it “the one track [on Slow Train Coming] that must be listened to again and again and again, inexhaustible, essential.” Rolling Stone Magazine editor Jann Wenner has called it “nothing less than Dylan’s most mature and profound song about America.”
Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend
Live in Toronton 1980:
Dancing Barefoot – Patti Smith
Wriitten by Patti Smith and Ivan Kral, and released as a second single from the Patti Smith Group’s 1979 album Wave.According to the album sleeve, the song was dedicated to women such as Amedeo Modigliani’s mistress Jeanne Hébuterne.
She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection
She is connecting with he
Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Written by Elvis Costello, originally performed by Elvis Costello and The Attractions, and appearing on the album Armed Forces in 1979. It remains his most successful single, spending three weeks at number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.
Don’t start that talking
I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I’m putting the world to right
Call careers information
Have you got yourself an occupation?
Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
The song first appears on the 1979 double album The Wall. It was also released as a single in 1980 with “Hey You” as the B-side. It is one of only three songs on the album for which writing credits are shared between guitarist David Gilmour and bassist Roger Waters. The chorus music and guitar solos were written by Gilmour while Waters contributed the lyrics and the music for the verses. An early version of the song was included under the working title on the “Immersion Box Set” of The Wall, released in 2012.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?
Come on now
I hear you’re feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
I’ll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?
Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure
Released in the UK as a stand-alone single in June 1979, and was included as the title track on Boys Don’t Cry, the American equivalent to Three Imaginary Boys.
I would say I’m sorry
If I thought that it would change your mind
But I know that this time
I have said too much
Been too unkind
The Gypsy’s Wife – Leonard Cohen
First released on his sixth studio album Recent Songs (1979). Live recordings of it appear as the fourth track on Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979 (2001) and as the thirteenth track on Cohen’s Live in London (2009). It continued to feature regularly in his stage performances until his death.
And where, where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight
I’ve heard all the wild reports, they can’t be right
But whose head is this she’s dancing with on the threshing floor
whose darkness deepens in her arms a little more
And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?
Where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?
Passion Is No Ordinary Word – Graham Parker & the Rumour
From Squeezing Out Sparks, the fourth studio album by English musician Graham Parker and his band the Rumour. It was voted album of the year in the 1979 Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll and later ranked number 334 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
It worked much better in a fantasy
Imagination’s one thing that comes easy to me
Cause this is nothing else if not unreal
When I pretend to touch you, you pretend to feel
Brass in Pocket – Pretenders
A single by The Pretenders released in November 1979. It was written by Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott, and produced by Chris Thomas.
Got brass in pocket
Got bottle I’m gonna use it
Intention I feel inventive
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice
Cruel to Be Kind – Nick Lowe
A 1979 single by Nick Lowe, co-written by Lowe and his former Brinsley Schwarz bandmate Ian Gomm, that peaked at No. 12 in both the UK and U.S. charts that summer. It also peaked at No.12 in both Canada and New Zealand.
Oh I can’t take another heartache
Though you say you’re my friend, I’m at my wit’s end
You say your love is bonafide, but that don’t coincide
With the things that you do
And when I ask you to be nice, you say
Heaven – Talking Heads
From their 1979 album Fear of Music.
Everyone is trying
To get to the bar
The name of the bar
The bar is called heaven
Disorder – Joy Division
From Unknown Pleasures their debut studio album, released on 15 June 1979 on Tony Wilson’s Factory Records label.
I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day,
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.
Highway To Hell – AC/DC
The opening track of AC/DC’s 1979 album Highway to Hell. It was initially released as a single in 1979.
The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, with Angus Young credited for writing the guitar riff which became an instant classic
Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
Atomic – Blondie
Written by Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri and produced by Mike Chapman. It was released as the third single from the band’s Platinum-selling 1979 album Eat to the Beat.
Uh huh make me tonight
Tonight make it right
Uh huh make me tonight
Oh, your hair is beautiful
Oh, tonight, atomic
Broken English – Marianne Faithfull
From Broken English, her seventh studio album. It was released on 2 November 1979 by Island Records. The album marked a major comeback for Faithfull after years of drug abuse, homelessness, and suffering from anorexia. It is often regarded as her “definitive recording” and Faithfull herself described it as her “masterpiece”.
Cold lonely, puritan
What are you fighting for?
It’s not my security
It’s just an old war
Not even a cold war
Don’t say it in Russian
Don’t say it in German
Say it in broken English
Say it in broken English
Boys Keep Swinging – David Bowie
Released as a single from the album Lodger on 27 April 1979.
Heaven loves ya
The clouds part for ya
Nothing stands in your way
When you’re a boy
Clothes always fit ya
Life is a pop of the cherry
When you’re a boy
Amanda – Waylon Jennings
Written by Bob McDill and recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1974, but was not released as a single at that time. More than 4½ years later, new overdubs were added to the original track and placed on his first greatest hits album. In April 1979 the song was issued as a single, and it soon became one of the biggest country hits of 1979.
I’ve held it all inward, God knows, I’ve tried
But it’s an awful awakening in a country boy’s life
To look in the mirror in total surprise
At the hair on my shoulders and the age in my eyes
Farewell Party – Gene Watson
Written by Lawton Williams. Lawton also had the original recording in 1960. Little Jimmy Dickens recorded the song in 1961. It was also recorded by American country music artist Gene Watson. His cover was released in February 1979 as the second single from the album Reflections. The song reached #5 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
When the last, breath of life
Is gone from, my body
And my lips, are as cold as the sea
When my friends gather ’round
For my farewell party
Won’t you, pretend you love me
These came close:
- The Eton Rifles – The Jam
- Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (single)
- California Über Alles – Dead Kennedys (single)
- Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson
- Message in a Bottle – The Police
- Low Budget – The Kinks
- Just Like Real People – Kendalls
- A Message to You, Rudy – The Specials
- Good Times – CHIC
- In The Evening – Led Zeppelin
- Jimmy Jimmy – The Undertones
- Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
- Love Song – The Damned
- Ring My Bell – Anita Ward
- Funkytown – Lipps Inc.
- Human Fly – The Cramps
- Lost In Music – Sister Sledge
- My OCD brain
- Heartaches by the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles, written in 2003 by David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren
- The Heart of Rock and Soul – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made, by Dave Marsh, 1989
- 1001 Songs: You Must Hear Before You Die, by Robert Dimery, 2015
- 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, by Robert Dimery, 2010
- robertchristgau.com – Lists (Robert Christgau website)