1971: 30 Songs Released in 1971 You Must Hear

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

Heaps of wonderful music was released in 1971, here are my 30 chosen songs.

    • 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

      Written by Pete Townshend and 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

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    • Imagine – John Lennon

      The best-selling single of Lennon´s 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

    • Famous Blue Raincoat – 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.

    • Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison

      The title song from his 1971 album, Tupelo Honey. The title derives from an expensive, mild-tasting tupelo honey produced in the southeastern United States. Released as a single in 1972, it reached number 47 on the U.S. pop chart.

      You can take all the tea in China
      Put it in a big brown bag for me
      Sail right around all the seven oceans
      Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
      She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
      She’s an angel of the first degree
      She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
      Just like honey from the bee

    • Life On Mars? – David Bowie

      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

    • When I Paint My Masterpiece – Bob Dylan

      From 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

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    • What’s Going On – 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

    • 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

    • A Case Of You – Joni Mitchell

      From her 1971 album Blue and 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”

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    • Hello In There – John Prine

      Released on his 1971 debut album “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.”

    • For A Spanish Guitar – Gene Clark

      From his 1971 album “White Light”.

      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

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    • Maggie May – Rod Stewart

      From his album Every Picture Tells a Story, released in 1971.
      In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song number 131 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

      Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you
      It’s late September and I really should be back at school
      I know I keep you amused but I feel I’m being used
      Oh Maggie I couldn’t have tried any more
      You lured me away from home just to save you from being alone
      You stole my heart and that’s what really hurt

    • Tired of Being Alone – Al Green

      Written by Al Green, and though released on the 1971 album, Al Green Gets Next to You, it was written in late 1968 and intended to be released on the 1969 album, Green Is Blues. Problems occurred with the first recording, so it was postponed for production. It was altered and perfected the second time around.

      “Tired of Being Alone” was produced and recorded by Willie Mitchell at Hi Records and mixed by Mitchell and Terry Manning.

      I’m so tired of being alone,
      I’m so tired of on my own,
      Won’t you help me, girl,
      Just as soon as you can.
      People say that I’ve found a way,
      To make you say,
      That you love me.
      But baby,
      You didn’t go for that,
      Ha, it’s a natural fact,
      That I want to come back,
      Show me where it’s at, baby.

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    • The Silver Tongued Devil and I – Kris Kristofferson

      From his the second album by the same name, released in 1971 on Monument Records.

      I took myself down to the Tally-Ho Tavern to buy me a bottle of beer
      I sat me down by a tender young maiden whose eyes were as dark as her hair
      And as I was searchin’ from bottle to bottle for somethin’ unfoolish to say
      That silver tongued devil just slipped from the shadows and smilingly stole her away

    • One’s on the way – Loretta Lynn

      The title track to her 1971 album and became one of her best-known hits. It was written by Shel Silverstein.

      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 gay
      But 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

    • Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers

      From his 1971 album Just As I Am, produced by Booker T. Jones. The record featured musicians Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass guitar, Al Jackson, Jr. on drums and Stephen Stills on guitar. The song was released as a single in 1971, becoming a breakthrough hit for Withers, reaching number six on the U.S. R&B Chart and number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

      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.

    • Family Affair – Sly & The Family Stone

      A 1971 number-one hit single recorded by Sly and the Family Stone for the Epic Records label. Their first new material since the double a-sided single “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”/ “Everybody Is a Star” nearly two years prior, “Family Affair” became the third and final number-one pop single for the band. Rolling Stone magazine later ranked the song #138 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

      It’s a family affair, it’s a family affair
      It’s a family affair, it’s a family affair

      One child grows up to be
      Somebody that just loves to learn yeah
      Another child grows up to be
      Somebody we just love to burn

    • Yesternow – Miles Davis

      From the album “Jack Johnson”, later reissued as “A Tribute to Jack Johnson”, a 1971 studio album and soundtrack by American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Miles Davis.
      In 1970, Davis was asked by Bill Cayton to record music for his documentary of the same name on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson’s saga resonated personally with Davis, who wrote in the album’s liner notes of Johnson’s mastery as a boxer, his affinity for fast cars, jazz, clothes, and beautiful women, his unreconstructed blackness, and his threatening image to white men.

    • Music is Love – David Crosby

      From the album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” – the debut solo album by David Crosby, released in February 1971.

      Everybody’s saying music is love
      Everybody’s saying it’s you know it is, mmm
      Everyone yes everyone
      Everyone’s saying music music is love

    • When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin

      Released on “Led Zeppelin IV”, released on 8 November 1971 by Atlantic Records. Produced by guitarist Jimmy Page, it was recorded between November 1970 and January 1971 at several locations, most prominently the Victorian house Headley Grange.

      If it keeps on rainin’ levee’s goin’ to break
      If it keeps on rainin’ levee’s goin’ to break
      When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
      Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan

    • It’s Too Late – Carole King

      From Carole King’s 1971 album Tapestry. Toni Stern wrote the lyrics and King wrote the music. It was released as a single in April 1971 and reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. Sales were later gold-certified by the RIAA. Billboard ranked “It’s Too Late” and its fellow A-side, “I Feel the Earth Move”, as the No. 3 record for 1971.

      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)

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

      Written by Danny Whitten. It was first recorded by Crazy Horse and issued as the final track on side one of their 1971 eponymous album. It was Whitten’s signature tune, but gained more fame via its numerous cover versions, especially that by Rod Stewart.

      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

      Released on the album “Someday We’ll Look Back”, the fourteenth studio album by American recording artist Merle Haggard, released in 1971. It reached number 4 on the Billboard country albums chart.

      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

    • Surf’s Up – Beach Boys

      Written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks for the Beach Boys. Its title is an ironic nod to the group’s earlier associations with surf music; nothing in the song is about surfing. Through its stream of consciousness lyric, the song details a man who experiences a spiritual awakening, resigns himself to God and the joy of enlightenment, and prophesies an optimistic hope for those who can capture the innocence of youth.

      A diamond necklace played the pawn.
      Hand in hand, some drummed along
      To a handsome mannered baton.
      A blind class aristocracy.
      Back through the opera glass you see
      The pit and the pendulum drawn.

    • Theme From Shaft – Isaac Hayes

      Written and recorded by Isaac Hayes in 1971, is the soul and funk-styled theme song to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, Shaft. The theme was released as a single (shortened and edited from the longer album version) two months after the movie’s soundtrack by Stax Records’ Enterprise label. “Theme from Shaft” went to number two on the Billboard Soul Singles chart (behind “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) by Marvin Gaye) and to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in November 1971.

      Who’s the black private dick
      That’s a sex machine to all the chicks? (Shaft)
      You’re damn right

    • City Of New Orleans – Steve Goodman

      Written by Steve Goodman (and first recorded for Goodman’s self-titled 1971 album), describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans on the Illinois Central Railroad’s City of New Orleans in bittersweet and nostalgic terms.

      Riding on the city of New Orleans
      Illinois Central Monday morning rail
      There are fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
      Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail

    • Without You – Harry Nilsson

      Written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger. Nilsson recorded his cover version for his album Nilsson Schmilsson in 1971. The song was released as a single in October 1971, and it stayed at number 1 on the U.S. pop chart for four weeks, from 13 February to 11 March 1972.

      No, I can’t forget this evening
      Or your face as you were leaving
      But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
      You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
      Yes, it shows

    • Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin

      Written by Kris Kristofferson.
      Joplin recorded the song for inclusion on her Pearl album only a few days before her death in October 1970. Studio musician Stephen Ryder manned the keyboard for that session, and famously “Got a little carried away.” Kristofferson had sung the song for her, and singer Bob Neuwirth taught it to her. Kristofferson did not know she had recorded it until after her death. The first time he heard her recording of it was the day after she died. Joplin’s version topped the charts to become her only number one single and in 2004, her version of this song was ranked No. 148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

      Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train
      And I’s feelin’ near as faded as my jeans
      Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
      It rode us all the way to New Orleans

    • L.A. Woman – The Doors

      From their sixth studio album, L.A. Woman, released on April 19, 1971, on Elektra Records. It is the last to feature the group’s lead singer, Jim Morrison, who died three months after the album’s release.

      Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
      Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
      Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows

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