The Wacky Year of 1976 & My 100 Favorite Songs


If you lived through 1976, you know it was just plain crazy. Saturday Night Live, in its second year on the air, actually was given credit by some for putting Jimmy Carter in the White House. I’m not sure if that’s true, I think Watergate may have played a larger role, but it does give a measurement to the power of pop culture at the time. 1976 was the year of the bicentennial, one of the biggest hypes of the time. The first rumblings of punk were being heard in London after tours by the New York City punk bands. And, disco was beginning to wane a bit, at least until next year.

1976 was my second full year in which I was immersed in popular music. Once again, Casey Kasem’s program was my biggest influence, but I had discovered rock magazines with color photographs AND great writing especially Creem magazine with the great Lester Bangs and Lisa Robinson influencing my next level of discoveries. I was also in my full throttle KISS days, but I also moved toward Queen, Rush and Parliament that year. And everywhere you went, Peter Frampton was on the radio, turntable or in an 8-track tape player.

9.4 peter-frampton

But, did you know who somewhat quietly had big years in the music world? Boz Scaggs and Bob Seger. Scaggs unwittingly started the whole nutty genre of yacht rock with his brilliant mix of West Coast cool, mild disco beats, brilliant white-soul vocals and slick production work. And Seger, that hardworking journeyman rocker from the Detroit music scene finally broke nationally.

In retrospect, it appears that many of the rock songs from this year have become the basis for classic rock radio. From “Bohemian Rhapsody” to Boston’s debut album, 1976 is loaded with rock classics. Unbeknownst to me at the time would be that I would never again escape many of these songs, for better or for worse.

9.4 bob seger

Perhaps most importantly, I officially joined the ranks of being a teenager that year, and with that came all the craziness of the teen years. It was also the year when my parents’ marriage imploded. So while anger and hormones were raging through my body, music became my refuge. All this means that today’s list represents a moment in time when my life changed in oh so many ways, ways that I continued to battle throughout my adult life.

What does all of this say? Basically, this is a list of songs that essentially were three-minute therapy sessions. Some others may have been discovered later in my life, allowing me to rewrite history somewhat. Brace yourself because here are my 100 favorite songs of 1976.

9.4 svb

100. “Afternoon Delight” – Starland Vocal Band

99. “Keep on Knocking” – Death

98. “New Kid in Town” – Eagles

97. “Summer” – War

96. “You Don’t Have to Be a Star” – Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.

95. “Takin’ It to the Streets” – The Doobie Brothers

94. “Things We Do for Love” – 10 c.c.

93. “Back in the Saddle” – Aerosmith

92. “Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser (live)” – Bob Seger

91. “The Pretender” – Jackson Browne

9.4 kc & sunshine band

90. “Keep It Comin’ Love” – KC & the Sunshine Band

89. “Let ‘Em In” – Wings

88. “The First Cut Is the Deepest” – Rod Stewart

87. “Something He Can Feel” – Aretha Franklin

86. “You Are the Woman” – Firefall

85. “Beth” – KISS

84. “Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder

83. “Take the Money and Run” – Steve Miller Band

82. “You’re My Best Friend” – Queen

81. “Life in the Fast Lane” – Eagles

80. “If You Leave Me Now” – Chicago

9.4 kansas

79. “Carry On Wayward Son” – Kansas

78. “I Wish” – Stevie Wonder

77. “Baby I Love Your Way (live)” – Peter Frampton

76. “Rock’n Me” – Steve Miller Band

75. “Livin’ Thing” – Electric Light Orchestra

74. “Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band

73. “New Rose” – The Damned

72. “2112” – Rush

9.4 atlanta_rhythm_section

71. “So Into You” – Atlanta Rhythm Section

70. “Devil Woman” – Cliff Richard

69. “I’m Your Boogie Man” – KC & the Sunshine Band

68. “Police and Thieves” – Junior Murvin

67. “Roxette” – Dr. Feelgood

66. “X-Offender” – Blondie

65. “It’s a Long Way to the Top” – AC/DC

64. “Do Ya” – Electric Light Orchestra

63. “Just to Be Close to You” – Commodores

62. “Smoke from a Distant Fire” – Sanford/Townsend Band

9.4 Silver Convention

61. “Get Up and Boogie” – Silver Convention

60. “Love So Right” – Bee Gees

59. “Enjoy Yourself” – The Jacksons

58. “Fool to Cry” – The Rolling Stones

57. “Detroit Rock City” – KISS

56. “Turn Your Beat Around” – Vicki Sue Robinson

55. “Year of the Cat” – Al Stewart

54. “Dazz” – Brick

53. “Silly Love Songs” – Wings

52. “Love Hangover” – Diana Ross

51. “Show Me the Way (live)” – Peter Frampton

9.4 rose royce

50. “Car Wash” – Rose Royce

49. “Crazy on You” – Heart

48. “Kiss and Say Goodbye” – The Manhattans

47. “Fly like an Eagle” – Steve Miller Band

46. “Tonight’s the Night” – Rod Stewart

45. “Still the One” – Orleans

44. “The Rubberband Man” – The Spinners

43. “(I’m) Stranded” – The Saints

42. “Shake Some Action” – The Flamin’ Groovies

41. “Telephone Line” – Electric Light Orchestra

9.4 Andrea true

40. “More, More, More” – Andrea True Connection

39. “Mainstreet” – Bob Seger

38. “Do You Feel like I Do (live)” – Peter Frampton

37. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston

36. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John & Kiki Dee

35. “Long Time” – Boston

34. “Night Moves” – Bob Seger

33. “Play that Funky Music” – Wild Cherry

32. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA

31. “Somebody to Love” – Queen

9.4 brothers johnson

30. “I’ll Be Good to You” – Brothers Johnson

29. “Shout It Out Loud” – KISS

28. “Here Comes Those Tears Again” – Jackson Browne

27. “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways

26. “Teenage Depression” – Eddie & the Hot Rods

25. “Magic Man” – Heart

24. “You Should Be Dancing” – Bee Gees

23. “So It Goes” – Nick Lowe

22. “Dream On” – Aerosmith

9.4 boz scaggs

21. “Lido Shuffle” – Boz Scaggs

20. “Breakdown” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

19. “Blitzkrieg Bop” – Ramones

18. “Moonlight Feels Right” – Starbuck

17. “Rich Girl” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

16. “American Girl” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

15. “Lowdown” – Boz Scaggs

9.4 heatwave

14. “Boogie Nights” – Heatwave

13. “Anarchy in the U.K.” – Sex Pistols

12. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult

11. “Turn the Page (live)” – Bob Seger

10. “Sir Duke” – Stevie Wonder

9.4 climax-blues-band-group

9. “Couldn’t Get It Right” – Climax Blues Band

8. “Saturday Night” – Bay City Rollers

7. “She’s Gone” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

6. “Blinded by the Light” – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

9.4 thin lizzy

5. “The Boys Are Back in Town” – Thin Lizzy

4. “More Than a Feeling” – Boston

3. “Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac

2. “Hotel California” – Eagles

9.4 queen

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

1975: Ground Zero for My Obsession and My 100 Favorite Songs


1975 was the year when I became seriously obsessed with popular music. Sure, there were definite underpinnings leading up to that year. Lord knows how I loved the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way,” but I had trouble finding that 45 in the “big city” of Anderson which was becoming a common theme for my life then. Shortly thereafter, I had to follow my parents’ rules for a WHOLE MONTH of my life in order for them to correct my budding aberrant behavior with the pay-off being Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies album. Talk about determination! You know, a month is a LONG time for a fourth-grader who had undiagnosed ADHD, and a touch of Obsessive Defiant Disorder, to stay in line but I persevered.

In August of 1974, I unwittingly discovered Casey Kasem and his mind altering American Top 40 radio show while running home from an afternoon of basketball games in the neighborhood. As I was cutting through a nearby neighbor’s yard, I had Casey talking about ABBA’s hit “Waterloo.” I literally stopped in my tracks in the neighbor’s yard and started a conversation with the high school girl who was laying out in her backyard listening to this great radio program. Since I knew everyone in this suburban haven, the young lady told me all about AT40 as my mom stood in our backyard yelling at me to hurry up and get home. After that brief conversation was over (all I got was the radio information), I got home to turn on my radio in my room and faded into heaven. Mom burst into my room to yell at me about being late or something, but I did not care because Casey was bringing me the top hits in the USA.

9.3 AT40

AT40 exposed me to EVERYTHING in popular music, music that was not yet on the playlists of local radio stations. He told me anecdotes about these artists whose hits I loved. And, since I was an information sponge, I was memorizing each week’s Top 40, along with baseball and basketball statistics, and spouting off in an effort to impress my classmates (it didn’t work!). I discovered Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and so many others on Casey’s iconic weekly radio show. Perhaps, most importantly, I got exposed to two more things: K-Tel Record Albums and KISS.

K-Tel was the early Gen Xers’ version of the NOW record series. Now, you could for the cheap price of $2.99 purchase a piece of vinyl with up to 20 hit songs! And, because of one of those compilations I discovered KISS and their studio version of “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Yet, it was Casey who turned me onto the live version of that song. KISS was a perfect band for a tween. They have a cool image and played a pop version of metal. Now, I was hooked. I charted KISS’ weekly movement through the Top 40 thanks to Casey. But, my was I ever bummed when that song never entered the Top 10.

9.3 KISS-1975-678x381

Some people say they love music from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties or Nineties, but my decade is that weirdly place ten-year span which runs from 1975 to 1984. Think about it! During that decade, we got disco, punk, New Wave of British Heavy Metal, post-punk, new wave, college rock, hardcore, dance music, Prince, synth pop, funk, hair metal and so much more which all corresponds to my coming of age story.

So, let’s look at my musical journey to adulthood by beginning with my 100 favorite songs of 1975.

100. “Over My Head” – Fleetwood Mac

9.3 The_Tubes
The Tubes

99. “White Punks on Dope” – The Tubes

98. “Get Dancin'” – Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes

97. “Do It (‘Til Your Satisfied)” – B.T. Express

96. “When Will I See You Again” – The Three Degrees

95. “Lonely People” – America

94. “Third Rate Romance” – Amazing Rhythm Aces

93. “I’m on Fire” – Dwight Twilley Band

92. “Magic” – Pilot

91. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – Elton John

9.3 sugarloaf

90. “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” – Sugarloaf

89. “How Long” – Ace

88. “You Are So Beautiful” – Joe Cocker

87. “Only Women Bleed” – Alice Cooper

86. “Some Kind of Wonderful” – Grand Funk

85. “Lovin’ You” – Minnie Ripperton

84. “Bad Blood” – Neil Sedaka

83. “Hair of the Dog” – Nazareth

82. “Saturday Night Special” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

9.3 janis ian

81. “At Seventeen” – Janis Ian

80. “Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright

79. “Games People Play” – The Spinners

78. “Take It to the Limits” – Eagles

77. “Shining Star” – Earth, Wind & Fire

76. “I Love Music” – The O’Jays

75. “Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd

74. “This Will Be” – Natalie Cole

73. “The Hustle” – Van McCoy

72. “Love Machine” – The Miracles

71. “Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers

9.3 modern lovers

70. “Roadrunner” – The Modern Lovers

69. “Love Will Keep Us Together” – The Captain & Tennille

68. “Sing a Song” – Earth, Wind & Fire

67. “Tush” – ZZ Top

66. “Sailing” – Rod Stewart

65. “Let’s Do It Again” – The Staple Singers

64. “Gloria” – Patti Smith Group

63. “It Only Takes a Minute” – Tavares

62. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” – Willie Nelson

61. “Rhinestone Cowboy” – Glen Campbell

60. “Listen to What the Man Says” – Wings

9.3 war

59. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” – War

58. “Golden Years” – David Bowie

57. “Low Rider” – War

56. “One of These Nights” – Eagles

55. “Jive Talkin'” – Bee Gees

54. “Fallin’ in Love” – Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

53. “All by Myself” – Eric Carmen

9.3 ozark mountain daredevils

52. “Jackie Blue” – Ozark Mountain Daredevils

51. “Chevy Van” – Sammy Johns

50. “You’re No Good” – Linda Ronstadt

49. “Lady” – Styx

48. “Express” – B.T. Express

47. “Walking in Rhythm” – The Blackbyrds

46. “S.O.S.” – ABBA

45. “Junior’s Farm” – Wings

9.3 pure prairie league

44. “Amie” – Pure Prairie League

43. “Miracles” – Jefferson Starship

42. “Sweet Thing” – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

41. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – Elvin Bishop

40. “Evil Woman” – Electric Light Orchestra

39. “Slow Ride” – Foghat

38. “That’s the Way (I Like It)” – KC & the Sunshine Band

37. “Young Americans” – David Bowie

36. “That’s the Way of the World” – Earth, Wind & Fire

35. “Hurricane” – Bob Dylan

34. “Dream Weaver” – Gary Wright

33. “Nights on Broadway” – Bee Gees

32. “Feel Like Makin’ Love” – Bad Company

9.3 Grand Funk

31. “Bad Time” – Grand Funk

30. “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” – Electric Light Orchestra

29. “Must of Got Lost” – The J. Geils Band

28. “Killer Queen” – Queen

27. “Fly, Robin, Fly” – Silver Convention

26. “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin

25. “Lady Marmalade” – Labelle

24. “Ballroom Blitz” – Sweet

23. “Sister Golden Hair” – America

22. “Love to Love You Baby” – Donna Summer

21. “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac

9.3 ac dc

20. “T.N.T.” – AC/DC

19. “Old Days” – Chicago

18. “Sweet Emotion” – Aerosmith

17. “I’m Not in Love” – 10 c.c.

16. “Philadelphia Freedom” – Elton John

15. “Reasons” – Earth, Wind & Fire

14. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John

13. “Wake Up Everybody” – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

9.3 Ohio-Players

12. “Love Rollercoaster” – Ohio Players

11. “Tangled Up in Blues” – Bob Dylan

10. “Fame” – David Bowie

9. “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker” – Parliament

8. “Walk This Way” – Aerosmith

7. “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” – The Four Seasons

9.3 roxy-music

6. “Love Is the Drug” – Roxy Music

5. “Get Down Tonight” – KC & the Sunshine Band

4. “Rhiannon” – Fleetwood Mac

3. “Rock and Roll All Nite (live)” – KISS

2. “Sara Smile” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

9.3 bruce-springsteen

1. “Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen