Today I’m featuring 10 of the greatest 1977 songs (in my books). I was born in this year. It was the year that the first Star Wars film was released and that Elvis Presley died.
The internet didn’t exist and the first mobile phone model was only 4 years old. It was also the year that the Atari 2600 gaming console was released. To list all the great 1977 songs would be an impossible task…
Here are 10 of the greatest 1977 songs (in my books):
Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”
This amazing track was released in December 1977 and peaked at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and first played by their band Artistic in the 1974.
Their band Talking Heads started playing prototypes of this song as early as 1975. The song is about a generic serial killer who is trying to impress you with a French phrase in the chorus. The timing for the release was perfect, it became instantly associated in popular culture with the Son of Sam serial killings. It’s included in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 songs that shaped rock ‘n roll.
I love this song because I love the way that it starts out slowly and constantly picks up the pace. The riffs are fairly simple, but they are also very catchy (in a non-Black Plague kind of way). I always manage to loose myself in this song.
Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain”
This is most probably one of the greatest 1977 songs in my books. “The Chain” was recorded in 1976 and released in February 1977. The song was created from from combinations of several previously rejected materials, that’s why it’s credited to all five members of Fleetwood Mac.
“The Chain” was released on the band’s highly successful album Rumours. Stevie Nicks wrote the lyrics about Lindsey Buckingham as their relationship was falling apart. They share the lead vocals on the song. The song is about a relationship breakdown in the band and the commitment to keeping the band together.
I love this song because it just grabs my attention from the second it starts playing. I can safely say, without a doubt, that this is definitely my favorite Fleetwood Mac song of all time.
Ram Jam – “Black Betty”
This song is a rock version of Leadbelly’s interpretation of the traditional work song ‘Black Betty’. It was released in June 1977. The song was originally released by Starstruck and became a regional hit. New York producers formed Ram Jam around Bill Bartlett (who originally re-worked the song for Starstruck) and re-released it.
It reached number 18 in the US and number 10 in the UK and Australia. Even though the song was credited to Huddie Ledbetter, the NAACP and Congress of Racial Equality called for a boycott due to the lyrics. The boycott failed.
I love this song because it contains such catchy riffs and a great guitar solo. It’s a great party starter.
Iggy Pop – “The Passenger”
This song was released in August 1977. It was written by Iggy Pop and Ricky Gardener and is loosely based on a poem by Jim Morrison. It was partly inspired by Iggy Pop’s travels with David Bowie. Iggy Pop didn’t have a driver’s license or a vehicle at that time.
The song features David Bowie on piano, organ and backing vocals. The song was on the B-side of Iggy Pop single “Success”. It was only released a single in 1998 and reached number 22 in the UK charts. The lyrics reflect the nomadic, loner spirit of a punk outcast.
This is one of my favorite 1977 songs because it’s just one of those songs that you need to have on your playlist for a roadtrip.
The Clash – “White Riot”
“White Riot” was the first single to be released by The Clash in March 1977. The song was written after Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon were involved in the riots at the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976.
The song is about class economics and race and thus proved controversial: some people thought it was advocating a kind of race war. Luckily that didn’t happen. “White” reached number 38 on the UK singles chart.
I love this song because it has a lot of raw punk rock energy. It’s short, fast-paced and that’s reason enough for me to be on this list.
Peter Gabriel – “Solsbury Hill”
This was Peter Gabriel’s first single as a solo artist and it was released in 1977. According to Gabriel “It’s about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get … It’s about letting go.”
He released the song after he left Genesis (a progressive rock band that he was part of since its inception in 1967). The song was a Top 20 hit in the UK and it reached number 68 on Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.
The real Solsbury Hill is located near Bath, England, where Peter Gabriel would often walk or jog. According to legend, a temple was built there to honor Apollo, god of light, music, and poetry. I love this song because it has a great laid-back vibe.
Supertramp – “Give a little bit”
This song was released in May 1977. It was the first track on Supertramp‘s Even in the Quietest Moments album. It was an international hit and reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The song is a call to share your love with your fellow man. It has been used in TV adverts for the Coca-Cola company and other brands. Princess Diana loved this song, and Roger Hodgson (who left Supertramp but now has credit for writing the song) performed it in her honor at the 2007 Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in London.
I love this song because it inspires me to be a better human being. Sometimes you just have to give a little bit, you know?
Queen – “We are the Champions”
This is definitely one of my favorite 1977 songs. I’ve been a massive fan of Queen since my childhood days. The song was written by Freddie Mercury (who was thinking of football when he wrote it). It reached number 2 on the UK singles chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the USA.
In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest song in the history of pop music. This song been played or used at numerous sporting events and Donald Trump used this song at campaign rallies when he was running for the Republican nomination in 2016.
I love this song because it’s uplifting and the best song to play or sing when my favorite sports team has won a tournament.
The Eagles – “Hotel California”
This song will always be one of my favorite songs. Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey share the songwriting credits for this song, which was released as a single in February 1977.
“Hotel California” won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. It reached the top 10 in 10 countries (including the USA, Australia and New Zealand). According to Don Henley “It’s a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.”
All seven past and present members of The Eagles performed this in 1998 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I feel sad that I missed their South African concert a few years ago, but I’m glad that I have a friend who’s place we’ve been calling “Hotel California” for quite some time – you can check in, but you can never leave.
AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie”
This song was released on AC/DC‘s Let There Be Rock album in March 1977. It was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott (who died in 1980 in London). The song was actually only released a single in 1978. The song reached number 36 on the UK singles chart.
In their early days, AC/DC shared a house in Australia where lots of unsavory incidents occurred. This gave them material for songs like this one and “The Jack.” The music for the song is based on the Chuck Berry song “No Money Down.”
I love this song simply because it’s full-blown no-nonsense rock ‘n roll. I may have only been a month old when this song was released, but it has withstood the test of time to become a true rock ‘n roll anthem.
Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Three Little Birds”
This song was released on the 1977 album, Exodus. It was only released as a single in 1980. It reached number 17 on the UK singles chart.
The inspiration for this song is disputed. Bob Marley’s friend Tony Gilbert said that he got inspiration for this song from three little birds who kept on visiting him in the mornings at his home. Three female reggae singers that used to perform with him claim that he referred to them as “Three Little Birds”.
It doesn’t matter where he got inspiration for it, it’s a great song that constantly reminds me not to take life too seriously and that things will be alright.
Well, there you have it, 10 of the greatest 1977 songs (in my books). Which one of these songs is your favorite and why? Leave a comment and let me know.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.