10 Best ’70s Songs
Country music was thriving in the ‘70s with a diverse class of entertainers who expanded the genre's reach and delivered some timeless songs. New singers like John Conlee and Dolly Parton were making a name for themselves, as were established stars like Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride were headed to the next level of their careers. Furthermore, the ‘70s brought us some blockbuster songs like ‘Convoy’ and ‘The Gambler’ that took on a life of their own in the movies and on television, while former rock and pop stars like Charlie Daniels and Conway Twitty were conquering the mainstream country music market. Taste of Country is proud to bring you back to enjoy the memories of the best ‘70s songs!
With the most unlikely background for a country music singer, former mortician John Conlee debuted on the charts with ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ in 1978. Although the song only peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard country music charts, the tune launched the career of one of the most unique voices in the genre. Furthermore, Conlee also helped launch what would become Farm Aid by raising money for the Family Farm Defense Fund in the early ‘80s. At the age of 65, the ‘Common Man’ singer is still a regular cast member on the Grand Ole Opry. This classic country waltz is the perfect start of our sentimental journey through the best '70s songs.
William Fries worked as an advertising executive who did the voiceover for a fictitious bread truck driver named C.W. McCall. After his commercial for Old Home Bread won a Clio award, he continued to pursue his second career as a singer under his stage name. In 1975, at the height of the CB radio craze, he got the idea to write ‘Convoy’ with Chip Davis. The record became an instant hit, topping the charts just four weeks after its release and selling over seven million copies. The song also inspired a movie starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw. Now, at age 83, McCall is enjoying retirement.
The Charlie Daniels Band gained a faithful following as part of the southern rock movement with songs like ‘The South’s Gonna Do It’ and ‘Long Haired Country Boy.’ In 1979, they broke through to the mainstream country market with ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia.’ Inspired by the poem ‘Mountain Whipporwill’ by Stephen Vincent Benet, Charlie Daniels came up with the story song after he realized that he needed a fiddle tune to complete his album ‘Million Mile Reflections.’ In August of 1979, Daniels would release one of the biggest country songs of the '70s. At age 75 he's still leading his countrified southern rock band all over the nation, including playing several shows for the military overseas.
In 1971, Charley Pride won country music’s highest honor, the CMA Entertainer of the Year award. Ironically, he won the honor prior to the release of his biggest career hit. ‘Kiss An Angel Good Morning’ was released just two weeks after Pride claimed the trophy, and the song became an instant smash. Inspired by songwriter Ben Peters' baby, Angela, and his wife, Jackie, the song surprised Pride as it crossed over to the pop charts, considering it wasn’t recorded with crossover appeal in mind. Now, at the age of 73, the former baseball player has this song proudly programmed as his ring tone -- and we proudly list it as one of the best '70s songs.
The story of ‘The Gambler’ began in 1976, when songwriter Don Schlitz developed the quintessential country music story song. Shlitz cut the song himself, along with a few other artists, but the tune failed to make it to country radio. In 1978, Kenny Rogers -- who had already accumulated four No. 1 hits -- cut his own version. The album cover, featuring the bearded legend in a casino, inspired the longest running mini-series in television history. The song truly took on a life of its own. It's not only one of the best '70s songs; it’s now a timeless classic loved by all generations. Now, at age 73, Rogers is still known as "The Gambler," and his picture is even on slot machines at some of the biggest casinos.
In 1970, Loretta Lynn was already an established star in country music. By this time, she was the first woman to win the CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year Award and had accumulated 10 years' worth of hits, including ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ and ‘Fist City.’ Throughout her early career, Lynn had always wanted to write a song about her youth, and the chance finally came while she was filming a television show. While on break in her dressing room, she composed nine verses of her life set to music, and while only six of those verses made it to the record, the song became a blockbuster hit and the title of a movie starring Sissy Spacek. At age 76, Lynn is still delighting fans by performing her signature song at the close of every show.
After Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson spotted an advertisement for an Ike and Tina Turner concert at a poker game, they began writing one of the biggest hits of the ‘Outlaw’ movement. The ad claimed that Tina Turner would be singing songs about good-hearted women loving good-timing men, and Jennings and Nelson thought it sounded like a great country song that they would later dedicate to their own wives! The tune was featured on country music’s first platinum selling album, 'Wanted: The Outlaws,' a sampler of outlaw artists singing 11 songs. Jennings released a solo version of the song in 1972, with the re-release of the duet in 1976 capturing the CMA’s Single and Duo of the Year Awards. Jennings passed in 2002 at age 64, while Willie, at age 78, continues to perform the song on his nightly tour stops.
After becoming one of the most played artists on country and pop radio in the late '60s with songs like ‘Gentle on My Mind’ and ‘Wichita Lineman,’ Glen Campbell launched his own show, ‘The Goodtime Hour.' While many would believe that he had already reached his peak by the early '70s, the big one would hit in 1975. ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ was a song written by Larry Weiss about Broadway friends like Neil Diamond and Tony Orlando, who all had dreams of making it in show business. Weiss released the song on a small record label, where it was heard by Glen Campbell. After Weiss’ version fizzled out, Campbell revived the song, which in turn revived his career as the CMA and ACM Song of the Year honoree. At age 75, despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Campbell is still singing one of the best '70s songs on his 2011 Farewell Tour.
Dolly Parton placed her first song of the charts in 1967 with ‘Dumb Blonde.’ The song opened the door to an amazing career in music that started with her landing a regular spot on 'The Porter Wagoner' show. In 1974, after a series of duets and albums produced with Wagoner, Parton wanted to leave the partnership. Although she loved him as a friend and mentor, Parton needed to spread her wings and fly. Her goodbye song, ‘I Will Always Love You,’ captured the bittersweet feelings of a positive parting and brought her a No. 1 hit. The song was re-recorded for the soundtrack to ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ and head back to No. 1 in 1982. Ten years later, Whitney Houston recorded the song for the 'Bodyguard' soundtrack, and the ‘9 to 5’ singer saw her ‘70s hit go to No. 1 on the pop charts. In 1995, Dolly teamed up with Vince Gill for another version of the song, which won CMA Vocal Event of the Year Award. At 65, Parton proudly belts out her timeless classic at every concert.
In the late ‘50s, Conway Twitty was a rock 'n' roll teen sensation, thanks to hits like ‘It’s Only Make Believe’ and ‘Mona Lisa.’ In 1966, Conway headed over to country music and landed three No. 1 hits before recording his signature song. Twitty actually wrote the song, along with other country songs, during his days as a pop singer. When he was recording for Decca Records, he would often pull songs from this stack of writings. ‘Hello Darlin’’ was actually considered risky because it didn’t have a catchy repetitive chorus or hook, and the actual title phrase is only heard once, in the beginning of the song. The song spent one month at No. 1 in 1970 and was elected to the Grammy Song Hall of Fame. Twitty said "goodbye" on June 5, 1993 at the age of 59. The ‘Tight Fittin’ Jeans’ singer left us one of the best '70s songs of all time.