20 Songs Released in 1979 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 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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
    Tonight, 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

Spotify Playlist:


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