Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What's So Bad about the 70's?

I was sad to see the passing of Tom Snyder yesterday. When I was a teenager in the 70's, the Tomorrow Show was one of my favorites. And even though Tom was a square, he was a great TV personality, especially for late night.

In the pre-cable era, when stations actually went off the air in the early AM, Tomorrow was an oasis for this teenage rock and roller. Tom not only had John Lennon and Paul McCartney on his show (not together obviously), but he also had Patti Smith, Johnny Rotten, the Ramones, and the Plasmatics. And lots of writers, film and television personalities. And kooks like Charles Manson, too.

Tom was a good guy. And like Dick Cavett, he actually asked interesting questions and we learned stuff. Talk shows today are just exercises in pre-fab one-liners.

And it got me thinking about the 70's. For years now, I've been telling people "Hey, the 70's were cool!" But it's a hard sell. The goofy clothes and disco seem to dominate people's opinion of the times.

Sure the 60's were exciting, but in the 70's the country was at its most liberal politically and had some of the best movies, TV shows and music. The 70's was what the 60's wanted to be. Women's Lib came on strong and the Gay scene came out of the closet.

Here's a list of some of the movies and television show from the 70's that I love: The Godfather movies, M*A*S*H (the movie and the pre-BJ episodes), Chinatown, the Mary Tyler Moore show, Kung Fu, Columbo, Taxi Driver, Jaws, The Waltons (yes, it was a good show for the first couple years), A Clockwork Orange, Paper Moon, The Streets of San Francisco, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Annie Hall...the list could go on and on. And I could include more obscure stuff, like a couple of cool westerns: Alias Smith and Jones and the wonderful short-lived show starring James Garner called Nichols.

As far as music goes, how about Punk? It was the last important thing that happened in music, and the Sex Pistols were the last important act in the business.

Regarding the Beatles, it was the era of their greatest solo work. McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, All Things Must Pass, Plastic Ono Band, Walls and Bridges, "It Don't Come Easy", "Live and Let Die", and "Imagine" were all great. Even albums we thought as sketchy like Wild Life seem refreshing in retrospect. And the Wings Tour in 1976 was a huge event and a great concert. I saw them in Seattle and loved ever second of it. The 70's was the last time Paul McCartney was cool.

Sure, there have been some great things since: The Sopranos and Nirvana, for instance. But the best thing about the post-70's is that we have better technology and we can watch and listen to all the great old stuff with superior picture and sound and availability.

I have theories as to why I feel the way I do. It might be because it was "my era" (I was 13 in 1970). It might be that "pop culture" had exhausted itself by the 80's. Or maybe we're just over-stuffed. 500 TV channels, DVDs, the Internet, satellite radio...What was it that Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane said? "You buy a bag of peanuts in this town and you get a song written about you." So true.


Blogger Nauman said...

Man ...don't know about others but I am just 24 and believe me I love listening about 70's. Seems

2:25 PM  
Blogger Nauman said...

seem awesome...love the music !!

2:25 PM  

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