While you are reading this article, why not listen to my 1971 playlist which includes all the songs mentioned on this page as well as a few others too, courtesy of Spotify. Or for links to the playlist, see the bottom of the page.
To get things started, here’s the top 10 music from 1971 in the UK
- Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando
- Maggie May by Rod Stewart
- Hot Love by T-Rex
- My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
- Grandad by Clive Dunn
- Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me by The Tams
- Pushbike Song by The Mixtures
- I’m Still Waiting by Diana Ross
- Never Ending Song of Love by The New Seekers
- Amazing Grace by Judy Collins
The US charts only have two of the same songs in the top 10 as the UK, Maggie May and Knock Three Times. Here’s the US Top 10
- Joy to the World by Three Dog Night
- Maggie May by Rod Stewart
- It’s Too Late / I Feel The Earth Move by Carole King
- One Bad Apple by the Osmonds
- How Can You Mend a Broken Heart by Bee Gees
- Indian Reservation by Raiders
- Go Away Little Girl by Donny Osmond
- Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
- Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) by The Temptations
- Knock Three Times by Dawn
There’s some good songs from this list including My Sweet Lord from the “quiet Beatle” George Harrison, the first no. 1 single by an ex-Beatle in both the US and UK. Maggie May is a classic rock song that never grows old, and Take Me Home, Country Roads is an absolute classic (and I do like a bit of John Denver). At number 10 in the UK is Amazing Grace by Judy Collins, a truly beautiful rendition of a famous 18th century hymn. I listened to these 1970s songs when my mother-in-law was visiting, and Amazing Grace brought a tear to her eye – it was the first song she heard after her first child was born.
There’s a few notable songs missing from the top 10 lists which I’ve written about below.
Life on Mars by David Bowie – This song has been described by BBC Radio 2 as “a cross between a broadway musical and a Salvador Dali painting’. It is often considered one of Bowie’s best songs, as well as regularly appearing high up in top songs of the 1970s and the best songs of all time. It also featured as the theme song to the BBC sci-fi comedy of the same name.
Blackwater Side by Anne Briggs – A beautiful song by a great, if little known, British folk singer.
A Case of You by Joni Mitchell – The first time I came across Joni Mitchell was when her music was in the British romantic comedy film Love Actually and actress Emma’s Thompson’s character told her on screen husband:
“I love her and true love lasts
a lifetime. Joni Mitchell is the woman who
taught your cold English wife how to feel.”
Since then I’ve come to realise Joni Mitchell is a singer with a beautiful voice and this song is no exception.
Imagine by John Lennon – “imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man”. Agree or disagree with the sentiments expressed in this song, I can’t imagine any more inspiring and hopeful lyrics than this.
The Revolution Will Not be Televised by Gil Scott Heron. This song has a strong beat and became a calling card for the 1970s counter-culture movement.
Vincent by Don McLean – This wistful song portrays the life and death of the famous Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh and was a big hit for Don McLean, reaching No. 1 in the UK charts. Following its release it was played every day throughout the 1970s at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Links to playlist