1970s: 20 Songs That Defined the Early Seventies - Rolling Stone
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20 Songs That Defined the Early Seventies

The sounds that were inescapable during Nixon era, including Elton John, Marvin Gaye and more

20 Songs That Defined the Early Seventies

20 songs that were inescapable during Nixon era, including Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Carole King and more.

Michael Putland/Getty, Terry O'Niell/Getty, Jim McCrary/Getty

Pondering pop history from a generation or two away, it’s easy to forget what things actually sounded like from inside the zeitgeist. As Western culture worked itself into a complicated cultural froth, the early Seventies reflected those complexities in its hit parade with music that was evocative, entertaining and, for better or worse, unavoidable. Which is to say that the tunes on this list constitute much of the DNA of anyone alive at the time. Radio still mattered more than TV, and our seemingly endless culture wars were only beginning. New constituencies were arising and pop had even started reflecting on its own history. It was the best of times, it was the – oh, you know. And so, to the best of our recollections, here’s the greatest music you couldn’t avoid hearing in the early Seventies.

In This Article: Carole King, Elton John, Marvin Gaye

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