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The '70s: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 02:02 PM

While Dave Thompson’s book “I Hate New Music” may be an exercise in hyperbole and provocation, it does make a rather familiar point: many people feel that the music they grew up with is simply the best music ever made. It is almost painfully obvious to anyone who grew up on Elvis in the 50s that 50s music is the best. And it is just as blindingly self-evident to the Pavement fans of the 90s that the best music was made more than 20 years after Elvis left the building. So when Dave Thompson categorically states that the best rock music ever made was made in the 70s, and that everything that came after 1978 sucked, well, how can you argue with him? I mean, just look at the evidence: Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” – an album so great that even my parents like it – will outlive us all. Led Zeppelin is still the pinnacle of rock swagger and mythos on the big stage. Add David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Clash… there’s a reason why every band’s MySpace page seems to list those three names on the “Sounds Like” line.

It would be churlish of me to point out that the 70s was also the decade of the novelty song (who remembers “The Streak”?); and the Rolling Stones’ disastrous move into disco (“Cherry Oh Baby” and “Hey Negrita,” among unfortunate others); and the storytelling song (the strangely upbeat “The Night Chicago Died,” the legendarily bad “Billy Don’t Be A Hero,” and out of respect for those of you eating your lunch right now I won’t even mention the mawkish treacle that was “Wildfire”).

Look, I grew up in the 70s, it was my decade too; and I’m happy to hear some of my old favorites every now and again. But I just can’t listen to the same things over and over – I want music to make me feel surprised or moved or lifted up, and I just can’t do that when I’m hearing a song for the hundredth time. For me, the best decade for music is this one. Always has been.

Tell us: What do you think about the “classic rock” of the 70s? Do they truly not make ‘em like they used to anymore?

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