20 Songs Released in 1978 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

A lot of wonderful music was released in 1978, here are my 20 chosen songs.

  • Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) – Bob Dylan

    Released on his brilliant album “Street-Legal” in 1978.

    Señor, señor
    Can you tell me where we’re headin’?
    Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?
    Seems like I been down this way before
    Is there any truth in that, señor?


    And lets include a brilliant live version from London 1978:

  • Racing in the Street – Bruce Springsteen

    From his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. In the original vinyl format, it was the last song of side one of the album. The song has been called Springsteen’s best song by several commentators, including the authors of The New Rolling Stone Album Guide.

    I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396
    Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
    She’s waiting tonight down in the parking lot
    Outside the Seven-Eleven store
    Me and my partner Sonny built her straight out of scratch
    And he rides with me from town to town
    We only run for the money got no strings attached
    We shut ’em up and then we shut ’em down

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  • Miss You – The Rolling Stones

    Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was released as a single by The Rolling Stones on Rolling Stones Records in May 1978, one month in advance of their album Some Girls, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

    I’ve been holding out so long
    I’ve been sleeping all alone
    Lord I miss you
    I’ve been hanging on the phone
    I’ve been sleeping all alone
    I want to kiss you

  • Kentucky Avenue – Tom Waits

    Written and performed by Tom Waits, and released on Side Two of his 1978 album, Blue Valentine. The song was also included on the 1986 compilation album Asylum Years.

    Well, Eddie Grace’s Buick got four bullet holes in the side
    And Charlie DeLisle is sittin’ at the top of an avocado tree
    Mrs. Storm will stab you with a steak knife if you step on her lawn
    I got a half a pack of Lucky Strikes, man, so come along with me
    And let’s fill our pockets with macadamia nuts
    And go over to Bobby Goodmanson’s and jump off the roof

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  • (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash

    Originally released as a 7-inch single, with the b-side “The Prisoner”, on 16 June 1978 through CBS Records.

    Produced by The Clash and engineered by Simon Humphries, the song was recorded for (but not included on) the group’s second studio album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope and was later featured on the American version of the band’s debut studio album The Clash between the single version of “White Riot” and “London’s Burning”.

    Midnight to six man
    For the first time from Jamaica
    Dillinger and Leroy Smart
    Delroy Wilson, your cool operator

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  • Flyin’ Shoes – Townes Van Zandt

    Released on his album “Flyin’ Shoes” in 1978. It was his first album of original material in five years and was produced by Chips Moman.

    Days full of rain, sky’s coming down again
    I get so tired of these same old blues, same old song
    Baby, it won’t be long ‘fore I be tying on

    My flying shoes, flying shoes
    Till I be tying on my flying shoes

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money – Warren Zevon

    The closing track on his 1978 album Excitable Boy.

    I went home with a waitress the way I always do
    How was I to know she was with the russians, too?

    I was gambling in havana, I took a little risk
    Send lawyers, guns, and money
    Dad, get me out of this, hiyah!

  • (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Released as a single from his 1978 album This Year’s Model.

    Photographs of fancy tricks to get your kicks at sixty-six
    He thinks of all the lips that he licks
    And all the girls that he’s going to fix
    She gave a little flirt, gave herself a little cuddle
    But there’s no place here for the mini-skirt waddle
    Capital punishment, she’s last year’s model
    They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie
    I don’t want to go to Chelsea

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  • Because The Night – Patti Smith

    Written by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith that was first released in 1978 as a single off the Patti Smith Group album Easter. It rose to number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as number five in the United Kingdom, and helped propel sales of Easter to mainstream success—even as Smith was deciding to retire from a life of constant touring. In 1987, the song was ranked number 116 on NME magazine’s list of “The Top 150 Singles of All Time”. It remains one of the best-known songs of Smith’s catalog.

    Take me now baby here as I am
    Pull me close, try and understand
    Desirous hunger is the fire I breathe
    Love is a banquet on which we feed

  • Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) – Buzzcocks

    A 1978 song written by Pete Shelley and performed by his group Buzzcocks. It was a number 12 hit on the UK Singles Chart and was included on the album Love Bites.

    You spurn my natural emotions
    You make me feel I’m dirt and I’m hurt
    And if I start a commotion
    I run the risk of losing you and that’s worse

    Ever fallen in love with someone
    Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
    Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
    You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

  • Who Are You – The Who

    Composed by Pete Townshend, it is the title track on The Who’s 1978 album, Who Are You, the last album released before Keith Moon’s death in September 1978. It was released as a double-A sided single with the John Entwistle composition “Had Enough”, also featured on the album. The song became one of the band’s biggest hits in North America, peaking at number 7 in Canada and at number 14 in the US. The keyboard pieces on the track are played by Rod Argent.

    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    I woke up in a Soho doorway
    A policeman knew my name
    He said you can go sleep at home tonight
    If you can get up and walk away

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  • Stardust – Willie Nelson

    From his 1978 album “Stardust”.

    Sometimes I wonder why I spend
    The lonely nights dreaming of a song
    The melody haunts my reverie
    And I am once again with you
    When our love was new
    And each kiss an inspiration
    But that was long ago
    And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song
    Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright
    You are in my arms
    The nightingale tells his fairy tale
    A paradise where roses bloom

  • Heart of Glass – Blondie

    Written by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. Featured on the band’s third studio album, Parallel Lines (1978), it was released as the album’s third single in January 1979 and reached number one on the charts in several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Once I had a love and it was a gas
    Soon turned out had a heart of glass
    Seemed like the real thing, only to find
    Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

  • Four Strong Winds – Neil Young

    From “Comes a Time”, his ninth album released in 1978.

    Think I’ll go out to Alberta
    Weather’s good there in the fall
    I got some friends that I could go to working for
    Still I wish you’d change your mind
    If I ask you one more time
    But we’ve been through this a hundred times or more

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  • Kingdom Hall – Van Morrison

    From Wavelength, his tenth studio album released in the spring of 1978. The album has a different musical sound than his previous albums, leaning towards a pop sound with prominent electric guitars and synthesizers. Wavelength was Morrison’s best selling album at the time of the original release. Mick Glossop, Bobby Tench and Peter Bardens were given credit for special assistance in production.

    So glad to see you
    So glad you’re here
    Come here beside me now
    We can clear inhibition away
    All our inhibitions
    Throw them away
    And when we dance like this
    We will dance like we’ve never before

  • Tonight I Think I´m Gonna Go Downtown – Joe Ely

    From Honky Tonk Masquerade, his second album released in 1978.

    Tonight I think I’m gonna go downtown
    Tonight I think I’m gonna look around
    For something I couldn’t see
    When this world was more real to me
    Yeah, tonight I think I’m gonna go downtown

  • I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass – Nick Lowe

    Written by Nick Lowe, Andrew Bodnar, and Steve Goulding and performed by Lowe. It reached #7 on the UK Singles in 1978. The song was featured on his 1978 album, Jesus of Cool.

    I love the sound of breaking glass
    Especially when I’m lonely
    I need the noises of destruction
    When there’s nothing new
    Oh nothing new, sound of breaking glass

  • Down in the Tube Station at Midnight – The Jam

    The second single taken from the album All Mod Cons by The Jam. Released on 13 October 1978, it charted at number 15 and was backed by a cover of the Who song “So Sad About Us”, and “The Night”, written by Bruce Foxton.

    The distant echo
    Of faraway voices boarding faraway trains
    To take them home to
    The ones that they love and who love them forever
    The glazed, dirty steps, repeat my own and reflect my thoughts
    Cold and uninviting, partially naked
    Except for toffee wrappers and this morning’s paper
    Mr. Jones got run down
    Headlines of death and sorrow, they tell of tomorrow
    Madmen on the rampage
    And I’m down in the tube station at midnight

  • Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers

    Single released 17 October 1978.

    There’s nothin’ for us in Belfast
    The Pound’s old, and that’s a pity
    OK, so there’s the Trident in Bangor
    And then you walk back to the city
    We ain’t got nothin’ but they don’t really care
    They don’t even know you know
    They just want money, we can take it or leave it
    What we need

  • Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits

    From their eponymous debut album, which band frontman Mark Knopfler wrote and composed. Although it was first released in 1978, it was its 1979 re-release that caused it to become a hit in both the UK and U.S.

    You get a shiver in the dark,
    It’s a raining in the park but meantime-
    South of the river you stop and you hold everything
    A band is blowing Dixie, double four time
    You feel alright when you hear the music ring
    Well now you step inside but you don’t see too many faces
    Coming in out of the rain they hear the jazz go down
    Competition in other places
    Uh but the horns they blowin’ that sound
    Way on downsouth
    Way on downsouth
    London town

These came close:

  • Misfist – The Kinks
  • Another girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
  • Talking Heads – Take Me To The River
  • Teenage Kicks – The Undertones
  • The Model – Kraftwerk
  • Milk and Alcohol – Dr. Feelgood (single 1979)
  • Roxanne – The Police
  • Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen (single 1979)
  • Non-Alignment Pact – Pere Ubu
  • Le Freak – CHIC
  • Shot by Both Sides – Magazine
  • Runnin With The Devil – Van Halen
  • Public Image – Public Image Ltd
  • Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Spotify Playlist:


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