While many danced to disco music in the 1970s, the era also rang with cries of we will, we will rock you and the whispers of “stairway to Heaven.” Consequently, rock music experienced a unique period of growth in the 70s in that several of its subgenres, such as arena rock, began to achieve a different type of popularity. So, to explore some of the best songs of the decade, check out seven of the best rock songs of the 70s below.
1. Eagles’ “Hotel California” (1976)
Welcome to the 70s. And, as the Eagles said, it was a time when you can leave at any time / But you can never leave!
2. Aerosmith’s “Dream On” (1973)
Famous for the signature screams of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, among others, “Dream On” is a staple song in the rock world. Tyler also wrote the song, and in doing so he drew inspiration from his early experiences with his father, who was a classically trained pianist. In Tyler’s memoir, he recalls playing under his father’s piano – “that’s where I got that ‘Dream On’ chord age” he wrote.
3. “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” by Pink Floyd (1979)
What’s rock music without some protest lyrics? Explicitly written to inspire individualism and scrutiny, “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” is just one reason why Pink Floyd’s catalog carries a unique timelessness.
4. “Baba O’Riley” by The Who (1971)
Often mistaken for the title “Teenage Wasteland”, The Who’s 1971 hit “Baba O’Riley” is a deliciously odd mix of electronic and hard rock elements. Don’t cry / Don’t look up / It’s just a desert of teenagerssings Roger Daltrey.
5. “Layla” from Derek and the Dominos (1970)
Derek and the Dominos – made up of members Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Dave Mason and Duane Allman – only released one studio album, but it was one for the history books of the rock. This album, Layla and other assorted love songs included the song “Layla”, which was written out of Clapton’s longing for George Harrison’s first wife, Pattie Boyd. Clapton and Boyd would later marry after the latter’s divorce from the Beatles.
6. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is not only among the most popular rock songs of the 70s, but often joins the ranks of the most popular songs to date. As far as what Freddie Mercury wrote the song about, it’s up to you. “What Bohemian Rhapsody is about, well, I don’t think we’ll ever know and if I did, I probably wouldn’t want to tell you anyway, because I certainly don’t tell people what my songs are about. “, Mercury said. in an interview on the band’s greatest hits DVD release.
7. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)
Like many rock songs of this era, “Free Bird” meanders and moans for several minutes longer than the popular two-and-a-half-minute pop standard. The song was released on the band’s debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)and features some pretty epic guitar solos.
Aerosmith main photo by Zack Whitford