That 70s Show Rock Music

Posted by Mike Schuck

Let’s get one thing straight: The 1970s was not a time of huge, world-changing artistic achievements for music. By and large, most artists were going through the motions to make enough money to survive or win Grammy Awards.

But there are some key reasons why the decade is so beloved to music listeners now. For starters, great songs flooded the airwaves in an unprecedented way. Artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, and Taylor Swift have stayed popular because they consistently put out quality material.

Another reason is that many musicians made it onto TV via their panel discussions, interviews, and music videos. Some even found success as talk show hosts! This gave them a platform to share their love of music with others and connect with new fans.

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And don’t underestimate the influence of all those song lyrics we listened to during this era. Many of us today still find inspiration from things our ears pick up along the way.

The Beatles

that 70s show rock music

After their break-up in 1970, The Beatles continued to influence music through their solo careers and via collaborations with other artists. Many consider them to be one of the most influential bands in history, even if you’re not a fan of their first five albums as a band!

The early songs written and performed by each member after The Break Up are referred to as Solo Songs or Lennon–McCartney Songs. These individual tracks feature only that artist’s contribution to the song and/or his or her lyrics.

In fact, many believe that John, Paul, George, and Ringo would not have had the career they did without The Break Up because it allowed them to hone their skills as writers and performers. They all contributed to creating and developing their signature styles as musicians.

After The Break Up, Harrison, McCartney, and Starr pursued successful solo projects while still remaining friendly with each other at group events. Even though they were no longer traveling together as a unit, there was always an undercurrent of friendship between them.

And although some members would go onto bigger things like Pink Floyd and Radiohead, none ever truly retired from performing.

David Bowie

that 70s show rock music

In just five years, British singer-songwriter David Bowie made a significant impact as an artist. He solidified his status as one of the greatest musicians in history with songs like “Changes” and “Dancing With Myself.”

As we look back on his career, it is clear that he was always looking to push the envelope in terms of artistic expression. His style never remained still or stable, which makes him special.

Bowie made music that people could relate to. Some said his lyrics were explicit but they also showed how well he understood human emotions. Others described his music as futuristic or space age inspired.

Whatever genre you choose to describe his music as, there are no bad tracks! If you love his music, then you have been told already – listen to him!

There is a reason why he has such a large legacy as an artist. People all over the world know his songs very well, and most can name at least one song after hearing them for the first time.

The Jam

that 70s show rock music

After leaving the Beatles, John Lennon made what many consider to be his greatest solo album with For Your Love. He took some time off before returning with his next studio LP, Imagine. While not as popular or well-received as either of those two albums, it is an essential piece in understanding who he was as a musician and songwriter.

The title track features lyrics that describe a person trying to make sense of their life by thinking about death. This theme is explored more deeply within the second verse where death becomes something beautiful instead. These concepts are woven into the music beautifully, making for one transcendent experience.

This song also prominently features piano which gives it additional depth. McCartney’s touch provides both rhythm and texture for the listener to enjoy.

Bob Dylan

that 70s show rock music

As we discussed in our article about music genres, there is no one definitive style of songwriting that defines an artist’s sound. Each musician has their own unique way of writing lyrics and melodies, which blend together to form their stylistic fingerprint.

A lot of people consider Bob Dylan to be the father of punk due to his raw, direct style, but he actually predates both by quite a bit. His early songs are mostly written as narrative stories with characters and settings, very much like those of classic poetry.

His first major hit was “Like A Rolling Stone,” a catchy tune with verses that describe how the narrator feels after breaking up with someone. Many compare this to the blues, since the tone and feel of the song is similar.

After releasing several more successful singles including “Chimes Of Freedom” and “Blowin In The Wind,” he wrote what many consider to be his masterpiece, simply titled “Bob Dylan.” Here, he completely abandoned narrative storytelling and instead focused on exploring abstract ideas and concepts.

This style influenced other musicians, particularly artists who focus on conceptual or artistic pieces.

The Doors

that 70s show rock music

After their breakout hit “Light My Fire,” The Doors quickly found themselves at the forefront of an emerging genre known as psychedelia. They were not only integral to defining that genre, but they also influenced many other artists who have continued to pay homage to them since their break-up in 1971.

Their sound was characterized by rich bass lines, layered vocals, and lyrics that explored existentialism and spirituality. These themes are unmistakably present in some of their songs such as their version of Leonard Cohen's "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy."

In this song, lead singer Jim Morrison sings about encountering the infinite space within us all through casual conversations with strangers. He compares it to listening to music or watching a movie where someone else is performing a well known piece and you feel like what they're doing is familiar. This feeling grows stronger as time passes and you realize something important about yourself is being expressed.

This concept applies to life more broadly. By paying attention to the things around you, you will eventually realize there is no new thing to learn and nothing special you've never done before. Following your heart and exploring the possibilities available to you can have profound effects that last for days, if not longer.

The Smiths

that 70s show rock music

After leaving Morrissey’s band in 1983, guitarist Johnny Molloy formed a new group with drummer Andy Blythe. They wrote their first song while listening to music by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. When they were done, they took out what they had written and titled it “I Want To Break Down And Cry.”

The duo decided not to include this song in the album they planned to release, so they re-wrote the lyrics and called it “Something In Your Eye.” It was later included as a b-side for the single that made them famous.

After releasing two more singles (including one featuring an animated video) and receiving widespread praise from critics, The Smiths released their debut LP What I Mean By That Is… in April 1984.

Led Zeppelin

that 70s show rock music

We begin with something that almost no one knows who is not a fan of — yes, even I will say it — classic rock! Many people consider themselves to be “hard” or "real" music fans if they are not familiar with some form of what has been referred to as “the era” of classic rock – otherwise known as 1970s hard rock, glam metal, and punk rock. The term “classic rock” typically excludes soft forms of music like jazz and blues, but includes songs written in the more popular genres mentioned above.

Many musicians from this period remain very well-known, whether for their solo work, collaborations, or contributions to top hits. Some examples include Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Axl Rose (Glam Metal)*, Tom Petty (Punk Rock), Elton John (Soft Rock/Pop), David Bowie (Grindcore / New Romantic), and Taylor Swift (Power Pop). All of these artists have at least one song that fit into one of these genre categories.

With all of these artists having at least one other classic style track, it makes sense to add them all under the same banner. Artists such as Sting, Katy Perry, and Nickelback also contain elements of classic styles in their music, making it difficult to exclude them completely.

The Clash

After leaving England, Paul Simon moved to Canada where he eventually started his music career. He would later form a band with guitarist Larry Klein that featured another musician who had left London after being influenced by the punk movement, bassist Geddy Lee. This duo would go onto create one of the biggest selling rock bands in history! They are called Rush and their musical style is referred to as power-pop or hard rock.

Their most popular songs include “Tom Sawyer”, “Freewill (I Don’t Want To Be)”, and my personal favorite, “Headlong Flight”. Not only do I like these songs because they are good, but also because the lyrics refer to life lessons such as freedom and self-reflection. These three songs tell stories about relationships, life, and how we influence people around us.

In fact, some musicians have even covered versions of those songs. For example, Jon Bon Jovi released his own version of “Free Willy” titled “Have A Chance To Live”. You can find it on his album What About Me?

Power-pop has become very mainstream due to the success of Rush. However, they didn’t start out trying to be famous. They were just having fun making music and sharing it with others.

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