Treble’s Top 200 Songs of the ’70s

150. Pink Floyd
(1973; Harvest)
Available on Dark Side of the Moon

Way before hip-hop took up the topic, Pink Floyd had all the bragging rights when it came to spending cash. Starting off with a collage of sounds from clinking coins and cash registers, the song eases into a bluesy groove, with David Gilmour’s deep voice crooning lines of buying Lear jets and soccer teams, and ultimately, on the flipside, greed and how money is the root of all evil. Lyrically, there isn’t much to cover except all the clichés, but this song perfected the art of the intertwined guitar and sax solo. Greed never sounded so good. – Giovanni Martinez

149. Led Zeppelin
Rock and Roll
(1971; Atlantic)
Available on Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso)

Written during a jam session in the middle of recording B-side “Four Sticks,” the aptly named “Rock and Roll” features a twelve-bar blues structure and oozes nostalgia, in both composition and references to hits of the ’50s. Page’s guitar work is blistering, Bonham’s drums are as steady as Gibraltar, Jones’ bass tumbling brilliance, and Plant’s wail tears the paint from the walls. No matter of overplaying on classic rock radio will ever diminish the pure energy and instrumental acumen on display in this song. – Nick Ulbrickson

148. Dolly Parton
(1974; RCA)
Available on Jolene

Country music these days has gotten a lot fluffier, but time was once when its biggest performers sang some of the most miserable songs in pop music. Dolly Parton’s penned a few of those in her time, though there’s a sense of desperation behind “Jolene” that puts it in a special category all its own. A simple yet driving tune backed by a gorgeous array of strings, the narrator in “Jolene” stands in stark contrast to the outsized personality of Parton, herself, but the Nashville legend delivers her lines of jealousy and utter hopelessness with conviction and total absence of backing harmonies, shedding an even brighter light on her loneliness. – Jeff Terich

147. Delta 5
Mind Your Own Business
(1979; Rough Trade)
Available on Singles & Sessions 1979-1981

Delta 5’s first full-length tanked and the group split up as a result, but I imagine all the members would be (or are) quite pleased that people are out there dancing avariciously to their first single more than 30 years after its initial release. Which isn’t to say that “Mind Your Own Business” was aimed at any sort of dance floor: the song has the feel of an amply extended middle finger, and the vocal tracks jolt each other like crossed wires every second verse, a nod, one might guess, to fellow Leeds “rock as politics” militants, Gang of Four, and their “Love Like Anthrax.” But as attuned to (feminist) theory as Delta 5’s songs are, they are also exuberantly, not tensely, kinetic, ecstatic in their insouciance toward the status quo. – Tyler Parks

146. Marvin Gaye
Got to Give It Up
(1976; Motown)
Available on Gold

Marvin Gaye certainly created grooves before and after Let’s Get It On, which have enjoyed more time in the spotlight. None, however, are as effervescent and joyous as this track, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s a male Cinderella story, painting Gaye as a former wallflower now given up (!) to dancing all night and imploring others to join him. Full disclosure: I only first discovered this song in the first Charlie’s Angels movie, as Sam Rockwell pointed a gun at Drew Barrymore. If it can liven up that situation, and have that profound an effect on an individual listener, I think it can do pretty much anything. – Adam Blyweiss

145. Throbbing Gristle
Hot on the Heels of Love
(1979; Industrial)
Available on 20 Jazz Funk Greats

I like to think of this track as creating a new sound: industrial boner disco, which is, of course, related to, but not at all the same as the boner disco Donna Summer put out with “Love to Love You Baby.” And I feel relatively sure that my friends who have twin passions for boners and disco would stand behind me on this one, which is reassuring. While relying just as much on performance art porn and Chris Carter’s unreal skill with the machines, “Hot on the Heels” is a lot of fun, in the dark naturally, whereas most of 20 Jazz Funk Greats is only a lot of fun if your humor is a particularly playful shade of black (temporarily or permanently). It sounds like the future when the future still seemed futuristic and robots had sex appeal. – Tyler Parks

144. The Clash
Janie Jones
(1977; CBS)
Available on The Clash

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t make out all the lyrics that Joe Strummer slurs through, but I catch enough of them to know it’s about an unhappy man, who finds solace in music, drugs, and in the arms of infamous London Madame Janie Jones. Much like their later song “Death or Glory,” it touches on harsh reality versus naive plans, where people slog through an unfulfilling existence whilst dreaming of doing something to combat it. Compared to the snarling nihilism of the Sex Pistols, the rapid-fire quirk of the Buzzcocks, and the cynical maximum R&B of the Jam, this is practically revolutionary, and sets the tone for the influential and innovative songs that fill out the rest of the album, and the rest of the group’s discography. – Nick Ulbrickson

143. The Runaways
Cherry Bomb
(1976; Mercury)
Available on The Runaways

The Runaways may have been assembled for a specific purpose much in the same way that The Monkees were. The ladies’ gifts (in the form of hits and impact) were fewer and slower to reveal. And this track even grew organically and accidentally, rumored to be a hastily written stand-in for whatever was supposed to be Cherie Currie’s vocal audition. In spite of all this, the chugging guitars and defiant screams in “Cherry Bomb” were undeniable classics. This is a song all about kicking down doors — the rebel daughter’s bedroom, the sassy girlfriend’s beau’s house, and ultimately the male-dominated world of glam and early punk. – Adam Blyweiss

142. Badfinger
Day After Day
(1971; Apple)
Available on Straight Up

This song is an embarrassment of riches: a top ten hit produced by George Harrison and featuring one of his slide-guitar solos, piano by Leon Russell, and words and music by Badfinger’s great (and greatly underrated) Pete Ham. The song oozes sorrow, and appears to be an ode to a loved one who’s far away and dearly missed. I’ve always thought the sadness shrouding the song was more attuned to lyrics about suicide (which is doubly heartbreaking considering the means of Pete Ham’s death). Featuring ghostly harmonies over Ham’s raw, emotional vocal, this represents only a peek at the craft and genius of the group. – Nick Ulbrickson

141. The Cure
Boys Don’t Cry
(1979; Fiction)
Available on Boys Don’t Cry

Minimalist in grand Joy Division fashion, with flatly produced, knife-edge guitars and drums ready to become post-punk staples, The Cure’s follow-up to first single “Killing an Arab” is nevertheless far more upbeat. Was it possibly a retort to Ian Curtis’ morose outlook? How strange and wonderful could it be to hear Robert Smith and friends take a bright, poppy, almost macho tack on things? Of course, the macho here is because someone’s chosen to give up on a lost love, “hiding the tears in my eyes.” A goth anthem, this track features the kind of major-key backhanded positivity the band wouldn’t really visit again until “Friday I’m in Love.” – Adam Blyweiss

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