Bet you can't say '1970s music' without laughing


As further proof that people can be nostalgic for virtually anything (there are, after all, Guy Lombardo societies), I give you the latest in niche radio -- all '70s music, all the time.

I'm not making this up. The concept is sweeping America, which, as the car commercial reminds us, invented rock and roll.

For those of you who actually lived through the '70s -- many brave, young men, you'll recall, were lost while trying to walk on platform shoes -- this has to be a stunning turn of events.

If the '70s are remembered at all, it is for Watergate and disco. Believe me, disco was a far more serious threat to the nation.

Which would you rather listen to -- Dick Nixon tapes or Andy Gibb tapes? Sure, Nixon would subvert the Constitution if he had to, but he would never, ever, ever agree to sing a duet with Olivia "Have You Ever Been Mellow?" Newton-John. The man had some principles.

I'm trying to take this in -- '70s music. It's like saying '30s economy or '90s sex. It just didn't happen.

What happened was lots of guys wearing chains with their shirts open to their navels, revealing pasty white chests. I still get chills.

We're talking polyester leisure suits, patterned open-neck knit shirts and the Bee Gees, who began as Beatles' wanna-bes and moved on to "Jive Talkin'." Like many of you, I have ripped the entire decade's worth of pictures out of the family photo album. You don't want to scare the kids.

But it didn't stop with polyester. There was also no-natural-fabric music, like from Abba -- a Swedish group that didn't speak English but did give us "Dancing Queen."

I can say everything I want to about the '70s in just two words: Shaun Cassidy.

OK. There's more to say. Like this:

Shake, shake, shake,

Shake, shake, shake,

Shake your booty,

Shake your booty, ba-by.

How do you explain this decade? How do you explain Tony Orlando? What do you say when you find yourself humming "Knock Three Times"? (You're just grateful it's not "Torn Between Two Lovers.")

OK, I'm going to get nasty here. Would you ever date anyone who voluntarily listened to "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"?

I know who's listening to this music. It's the Generation Xers, and they do it just to humiliate us. It's pay-back because we have all the good jobs.

Let's get one thing clear, though. The '70s didn't begin with 1970. Music was still rocking then. The early '70s were still basically an extension of the '60s, which didn't actually kick in themselves until the Beatles and peace signs arrived in this country. I think they came over on the same plane.

The '70s began the moment Nixon was waving good-bye from the helicopter.

After which, the nation collapsed into itself. We were exhausted. Jerry Ford was the perfect president for the moment. Calm, relaxed, boring. If he had been a singer, he would have been Barry Manilow.

Nothing was happening then musically, except maybe Bruce Springsteen, but he was a cult figure who didn't make it big until the '80s. Here's the deal. The Eagles were considered a hip group, OK?

Every decade has bad music. As 1968 opened, the No. 1 song was "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro. But nothing can compete with the '70s for depth of frightfully bad, Leonard Pinth-Garnell bad music. In other words, "Muskrat Love."

There's "Mandy." And there's "Brandy."

There's Captain and Tennille. There's the Partridge Family.

There's "Seasons in the Sun." There's "Laughter in the Rain."

There's Barry White. Sample lyric: "Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby. Baby."

Oh, baby. I think I'm getting sick.

I am told that not only are there radio stations devoted to '70s music, there are also parties featuring music of the '70s.

My friend Laura explains: "The great thing about '70s music is that you can dance to it with irony."

Now, ironic dancing is a wonderful concept, but not if it means you have to listen to "Billy, Don't Be a Hero."

The '70s -- feelings, nothing more than feelings -- ended with "The Pina Colada Song." Is that perfect? Like many of you, I had the bootleg version. Everybody sing along: "If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain . . ."

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