1974: 20 songs released in 1974 you must hear

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The Year 1974 summary

  • OPEC ends the oil embargo begun in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War (Mar. 18).
  • Nixon and Brezhnev meet in Moscow to discuss arms limitation agreements. Background: nuclear disarmament
  • Leftist revolution ends almost 50 years of dictatorial rule in Portugal (launched Apr. 25).
  • India successfully tests an atomic device, becoming the world’s sixth nuclear power (May 18).
  • Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is deposed. A collective military dictatorship assumes power (Sept. 12).
  • House Judiciary Committee adopts three articles of impeachment charging President Nixon with obstruction of justice, failure to uphold laws, and refusal to produce material subpoenaed by the committee (July 30).
  • Richard M. Nixon announces he will resign the next day, the first President to do so (Aug. 8).
  • Movies: Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, Day for Night, Blazing Saddles, The Towering Inferno
  • Deaths: Bud Abbott, Dizzy Dean, Duke Ellington, Charles Lindbergh, Ed Sullivan

My rules:

  • 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 1974, here are 20 essential songs.

  • Forever Young – Bob Dylan

    Written in Arizona in 1972 and recorded in California in November 1973. The song first appeared (in two different versions, a slow and a fast) on Dylan’s 1974 album Planet Waves.
    A demo version of the song, recorded in New York City in June 1973, was included on Dylan’s 1985 compilation Biograph.

    May God bless and keep you always
    May your wishes all come true
    May you always do for others
    And let others do for you
    May you build a ladder to the stars
    And climb on every rung
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young.

  • Ambulance Blues – Neil Young

    Neil Young - on-the-beach
    Released on the album “On The Beach” – July 16, 1974.

    Back in the old folky days
    The air was magic when we played.
    The riverboat was rockin’
    in the rain
    Midnight was the time
    for the raid.

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  • Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Written by Ed King, Gary Rossington & Ronnie Van Zant & released as a single June 24, 1974. It was included an Lynyrd Skynyrd’s album “Second Helping”.

    Big wheels keep on turning
    Carry me home to see my kin
    Singing songs about the south-land
    I miss ‘ole’ ‘bamy once again
    And I think it’s a sin

  • Piss Factory – Patti Smith

    patti smith piss factory
    A protopunk song written by Patti Smith and Richard Sohl, and released as a B-side on Smith’s debut single “Hey Joe” in 1974.

    Sixteen and time to pay off
    I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe
    Forty hours thirty-six dollars a week
    But it’s a paycheck, Jack.
    It’s so hot in here, hot like Sahara
    You could faint in the heat
    But these bitches are just too lame to understand
    Too goddamned grateful to get this job
    To know they’re getting screwed up the ass

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  • Love Hurts – Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris

    Written and composed by Boudleaux Bryant & first recorded by The Everly Brothers in July 1960.
    This version was included on Parsons’ posthumously released Grievous Angel album from 1974.

    Love hurts,
    Love scars,
    Love wounds and marks
    Any heart not tough or strong enough
    To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
    Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain
    Love hurts,
    Ooo-oo love hurts

  • It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It) – The Rolling Stones

    the rolling stones it's only rock'n roll
    The lead single from The Rolling Stones’ 1974 album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.

    If I could stick my pen in my heart
    And spill it all over the stage
    Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
    Would you think the boy is strange? Ain’t he strange?
    If I could win ya, if I could sing ya
    A love song so divine
    Would it be enough for your cheating heart
    If I broke down and cried? If I cried?
    I said I know it’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it

  • Streets of Arklow – Van Morrison

    van morrison veedon fleece
    Released on “Veedon Fleece” October 1974.

    And as we walked
    Through the streets of Arklow
    Oh the color
    Of the day wore on
    And our heads
    Were filled with poetry
    And the morning
    A-comin’ on to dawn

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  • The Grand Tour – George Jones

    Recorded January 22, 1974 & released as a single May 1974.
    The song is widely hailed as one of the finest performances in country music history. Genre historian Bill Malone, in his liner notes for Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection, called it a “perfect matching of lyrics and performance” and “one of the great modern songs of divorce.”

    Step right up, come on in
    If you’d like to take the grand tour
    Of a lonely house that once was home sweet home
    I have nothing here to sell you,
    Just some things that I will tell you
    Some things I know will chill you to the bone.

  • The Real Me (single jan 1974) – The Who

    The who-the real me
    Written by Pete Townshend on The Who’s second full-scale rock opera, Quadrophenia in 1973 & released as a single 12 January 1974.

    I went back to the doctor
    To get another shrink.
    I sit and tell him about my weekend,
    But he never betrays what he thinks.Can you see the real me, doctor?

  • Withered and Died – Richard & Linda Thompson

    richard and linda thopson -i-want-to-see-the-bright-lights-tonight
    Released on the album “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” in April 1974.

    This cruel country has driven me down
    Teased me and lied, teased me and lied
    I’ve only sad stories to tell to this town
    My dreams are withered and died

  • I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton

    Dolly_Parton_I_will always love you
    Released on June 6, 1974 as the second single from Parton’s thirteenth solo studio album, Jolene (1974). The singer wrote the song, which was recorded on June 13, 1973, for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, from whom she was professionally splitting at the time.

    If I should stay
    Well, I would only be in your way
    And so I’ll go, and yet I know
    That I’ll think of you each step of my way
    And I will always love you
    I will always love you

  • Louisiana 1927 – Randy Newman

    randy newman - good old boys
    A 1974 song telling the story of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that left 700,000 people homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi. The song was written and originally recorded by Randy Newman on the 1974 album Good Old Boys.

    What has happened down here is the winds have changed
    Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
    Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
    Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

  • Bloody Mary Morning – Willie Nelson

    willie nelson phases and stages
    Written by Willie Nelson inspired by his struggles to become a “better parent”.
    It was included in Nelson’s 1974 concept album Phases and Stages, where the meaning of the song was shifted by the context of the album, changing the theme to a man who is left by his wife. Released as a single, it peaked at number 17 in Billboard’s Country singles in 1974, later becoming an essential part of Nelson’s live performances repertoire.

    It’s a Bloody Mary morning,
    Baby left me without warning
    Sometime in the night
    So I’m flyin’ down to Houston
    Forgetting her’s the nature of my flight

  • Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City – Bobby Bland

    bobby bland dreamer
    Written by Michael Price and Dan Walsh, and first recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland for the ABC Dunhill album Dreamer. Bland scored a minor hit with the song, landing in the top ten of the R&B charts.

    Ain’t no love in the heart of the city,
    Ain’t no love in the heart of town.
    Ain’t no love, sure ’nuff is a pity,
    Ain’t no love ‘cos you ain’t around.
    Baby, since you been around.

  • Lady of The North – Gene Clark

    a_no otherFront
    Released on No Other (September 1974) – the fourth solo studio album by Gene Clark.

    Flying high above the clouds, we lay in the grassy meadow
    The earth was like a pillow for our dreams
    Trials never entered into any conversation
    That was the relation of our dreams

  • Free Man In Paris – Joni Mitchell

    joni mitchell court and spark
    Written by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It appeared on her 1974 album Court and Spark, as well as her live album Shadows and Light. It is one of her most popular songs. The song is about music agent/promoter David Geffen, a close friend of Mitchell in the early 1970s, and describes Geffen during a trip Geffen and Mitchell made to Paris with Robbie and Dominique Robertson.

    The way I see it, he said, you just can’t win it
    Everybody’s in it for their own gain
    You can’t please ’em all
    There’s always somebody calling you down
    I do my best and I do good business
    There’s a lot of people asking for my time
    They’re trying to get ahead
    They’re trying to be a good friend of mine

  • (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits

    Released on The Heart of Saturday Night – the second studio album by singer and songwriter Tom Waits, released in October 1974 on Asylum Records. In 2003, the album was ranked number 339 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, his highest placing.

    Well you gassed her up
    Behind the wheel
    With your arm around your sweet one
    In your Oldsmobile
    Barrelin’ down the boulevard
    You’re looking for the heart of Saturday night

  • The Carpet Crawlers – Genesis

    Released on the double concept album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” – recorded and released in 1974. It was their sixth studio album, and the last to feature original singer and frontman Peter Gabriel.

    There is lambswool under my naked feet
    The wool is soft and warm
    Gives off some kind of heat
    A salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed
    Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth
    On celluloid

  • I Shot The Sheriff – Eric Clapton

    Written by Bob Marley, Eric Clapton’s cover version was included on his 1974 album, 461 Ocean Boulevard. It is the most successful cover version of the song, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2003, Clapton’s version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

    (I shot the sheriff
    But I didn’t shoot no deputy, oh no! Oh!
    I shot the sheriff
    But I didn’t shoot no deputy, ooh, ooh, oo-ooh.)
    Yeah! All around in my home town,
    They’re tryin’ to track me down;
    They say they want to bring me in guilty
    For the killing of a deputy,
    For the life of a deputy.

  • Autobahn – Kraftwerk

    Composed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider of the band, with Emil Schult collaborating on the lyrics. It is co-produced by Conny Plank, and was the band’s first track to use sung lyrics. Recorded in 1974, the song is designed to capture the feel of driving on a motorway.
    Included on their 1974 album “Autobahn“.

    Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der AutobahnVor uns liegt ein weites Tal
    Die Sonne scheint mit GlitzerstrahlDie Fahrbahn ist ein graues Band
    Weisse Streifen, gruener Rand

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