1971 Edition, part one, by Rich Paschall
In 1971 you may have been reading The Pentagon Papers. You would have learned the government was actually lying to us. Richard Nixon, a Republican, was President. It made an unpopular war even more unpopular.
You may have visited the new Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt had been secretly buying up land since 1965. He died before the place was finished. Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, took charge of the project. He died shortly after the theme park opened. Mickey Mouse lives on, along with a variety of Walt’s creations.
More likely you were at home watching Archie Bunker insult everyone on All In The Family on CBS. Flip Wilson put NBC into the number two spot while Marcus Welby, MD was making house calls on ABC. Matt Dillon was still seeing Gunsmoke on CBS and the Cartwrights were ruling the Ponderosa on Bonanza.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Here’s Lucy were tied for 10th place in the ratings, both for CBS. Lucille Ball was starring in her third consecutive hit series. If it was comedy you wanted there was also Sanford and Son, The Partridge Family, and the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
Mannix, Cannon, Ironside, and The Mod Squad were solving crime. The FBI, Adam-12, and Hawai Five-0 (the original starring Jack Lord) were out there keeping us safe. The NBC Mystery Movie also brought us some crime fighters.
It was certainly a good year for music. When I finished my shortlist to bring you a Top Ten, I found I had a rather long list and could have made like Casey Kasem and brought you America’s Top 40. Musical acts could find their way onto one of several television Variety shows. Some popular television hosts of the 1960s carried on with annual specials. Perry Como had a regular television series from 1948 to 1967. From that point on he had one or more specials per year until 1986. In 1971, you could have heard him do this one:
20. It’s Impossible, Perry Como. Recorded and released in late 1970, it became Como’s first Top Ten hit in 12 years in February of 1971. He had many hits in his long career, but this would be his signature tune in the later years. It is the English adaptation of the Latin hit, Somos Novios.
19. Love Her Madly, The Doors. Lead singer Jim Morrison could not be any more different than Perry Como. The Doors rocked the charts a number of times in 1971. This was the first hit off the album L.A. Woman.
18. Proud Mary, Ike, and Tina Turner. The cover version of the Credence Clearwater Revival tune did almost as well. Tina Turner would continue to perform the song for decades to follow.
17. If You Really Love Me, Stevie Wonder. Singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder wrote the tune with his wife of the time, Syreeta Wright. Wonder played multiple instruments on the recording and Wright provided backup vocals.
16. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Admit it, you like The Carpenters. This one climbed to number 2 but could not overtake a Carole King hit. The Official Vevo music video has almost 44 million views.
15. Don’t Pull Your Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. OK, I thought the group’s name was based on newscasters of the day Joe Hamilton and Frank Reynolds. Maybe they thought of it, or maybe not but they are Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo, and Tommy Reynolds. Who knew?
14. It Don’t Come Easy, Ringo Starr. George Harrison produced and played guitar on Ringo’s first hit after the Beatles. Richard Starkey is credited with songwriting. He may have gotten a little help from his friends.
13. That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be, Carly Simon. Jacob Brackman wrote the complex and emotional lyrics and Simon wrote the music. It was the first hit single from her debut album.
12. Never Can Say Goodbye, The Jackson 5. Yes, 12-year-old Michael is singing about love. This was a big hit for the group. In 1974 Gloria Gaynor would have a disco-style hit with the tune.
11. Superstar, The Carpenters. The 1969 Delaney and Bonnie tune was reimagined by Richard Carpenter. His work received a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist. This one also went to number 2.
After that slow tune where you played snuggle bunny with a close friend, Marilyn is turning up the lights. That means the sock hop is over for this week. Garry has been guarding your shoes against the east wall. Don’t forget to take only yours on the way out. We will continue the countdown next time.