1970s song meanings

By Ed Osborne

After the constantly-shifting sound of contemporary music in the 1960s, 1970 ushered in a period of breath-catching and mellowing-out. That shift was reflected on the album chart, where the top LP at the close of 1969 — Led Zeppelin II — was followed at #1 in 1970 by Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

The early ‘70s saw the emergence and growth in popularity of acoustic-based singer/songwriters and groups, along with the rise of sweet soul from its home base of Philadelphia.

Much of the softer rock music originated on the West Coast and made up the core of what came to be known as Classic Rock.

Adult contemporary and country artists also had their time in the spotlight.

Then came a deluge of disco discs, which took over the Top 40 charts in a way not seen since the British Invasion of 1964. This dance juggernaut rolled on until late summer 1979 when its momentum was broken by the bass/guitar/drums rocker “My Sharona.”

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.


25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross

All Right Now – Free

American Woman – The Guess Who

Funk – James Gang

Green-Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf

I’ll Be There – The Jackson 5

I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home – Grand Funk Railroad

In The Summertime – Mungo Jerry

It Don’t Matter To Me – Bread

I Want You Back – The Jackson 5

Long Long Time – Linda Ronstadt

Make It With You – Bread

Mississippi Queen – Mountain

No Time – The Guess Who

O-O-H Child – The 5 Stairsteps

Pouring Water On A Drowning Man – Otis Clay

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J. Thomas

Ride Captain Ride – Blues Image

Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder

That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be – Carly Simon

The Love You Save – The Jackson 5

The Tears Of A Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Turn Back The Hands Of Time – Tyrone Davis

Venus – Shocking Blue

War – Edwin Starr

Your Song – Elton John


Bad, Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce

Brother Louie – Stories

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – Spinners

Crocodile Rock – Elton John

Diamond Girl – Seals & Crofts

Dead Skunk – Loudon Wainwright III

Delta Dawn – Helen Reddy

Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group

Gimme Three Steps – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Hello It’s Me – Todd Rundgren

Highway Star – Deep Purple

Hummingbird – Seals & Crofts

If You Want Me To Stay – Sly & The Family Stone

Jesus Is Just Alright – Doobie Brothers

Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye

Little Willy – Sweet

Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers

Love Train – The O’Jays

Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips

No More Mr. Nice Guy – Alice Cooper

One Of A Kind (Love Affair) – Spinners

Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Elton John

Shambala – Three Dog Night

Stuck In The Middle With You – Stealers Wheel

That Lady – The Isley Brothers

The Cisco Kid – War

Time In A Bottle – Jim Croce

We’re An American Band – Grand Funk

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

You’re A Special Part Of Me – Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye


Beach Baby – First Class

Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me – Gladys Knight & The Pips

Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe – Barry White

Cat’s In The Cradle – Harry Chapin

Dancing Machine – The Jackson 5

Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) – B.T. Express

For The Love Of Money – The O’Jays

If You Wanna Get To Heaven – Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede

Jungle Boogie – Kool & The Gang

Keep On Smilin’ – Wet Willie

Let It Ride – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Midnight At The Oasis – Maria Muldaur

Nothing From Nothing – Billy Preston

Radar Love – Golden Earring

Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo – Rick Derringer

Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim

Rock The Boat – The Hues Corporation

She’s Gone – Tavares

Spiders & Snakes – Jim Stafford

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Takin’ Care Of Business – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Tell Me Something Good – Rufus

The Joker – Steve Miller Band

The Loco-Motion – Grand Funk

The Streak – Ray Stevens

Travelin’ Shoes – Elvin Bishop

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman-Tuner Overdrive

(You’re) Having My Baby – Paul Anka With Odia Coates

Walk Like A Man – Grand Funk


December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) – The Four Seasons

A Fifth Of Beethoven – Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band

Baby, I Love Your Way – Peter Frampton

Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones

Can We Still Be Friends – Todd Rundgren

Car Wash – Rose Royce

Convoy – C. W. McCall

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Fooled Around And Fell In Love – Elvin Bishop

Fool For The City – Foghat

Fox On The Run – Sweet

Get Closer – Seals & Crofts (Featuring Carolyn Willis)

Get Up And Boogie (That’s Right) – Silver Convention

I’d Really Love To See You Tonight – England Dan & John Ford Coley

If You Leave Me Now – Chicago

Love Machine (Part 1) – The Miracles

Kiss And Say Goodbye – The Manhattans

Let Your Love Flow – Bellamy Brothers

Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull

Love Is Alive – Gary Wright

Moonlight Feels Right – Starbuck

More, More, More Pt. 1 – Andrea True Connection

More Than A Feeling – Boston

Over My Head – Fleetwood Mac

Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry

Rock And Roll All Nite – Kiss

Rock ‘N Me – Steve Miller

Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers

(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty – KC And The Sunshine Band

Shannon – Henry Gross

Show Me The Way – Peter Frampton

Sing A Song – Earth, Wind & Fire

Still The One – Orleans

Summer – War

Sweet Thing – Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan

Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk) – Parliament

The Rubberband Man – Spinners

Turn The Beat Around – Vicki Sue Robinson

Wake Up Everybody (Part 1) – Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes

You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show) – Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.

You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine – Lou Rawls


After The Love Is Gone – Earth, Wind & Fire

Always And Forever – Heatwave

Baby Come Back – Player

Baby Hold On – Eddie Money

Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste Of Honey

Come Sail Away – Styx

Close The Door – Teddy Pendergrass

Disco Inferno – The Trammps

Don’t Look Back – Boston

Don’t Look Book – Boston

Double Vision – Foreigner

Dust In The Wind – Kansas

Flash Light – Parliament

Hot Blooded – Foreigner

Hot Child In The City – Nick Gilder

I Just Wanna Stop – Gino Vannelli

I Love The Nightlife (Disco ‘Round) – Alicia Bridges

Imaginary Lover – Atlanta Rhythm Section

I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight – Atlanta Rhythm Section

If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman

I Go Crazy – Paul Davis

I Love The Nightlife (Disco ‘Round) – Alicia Bridges

It’s You That I Need – Enchantment

Kiss You All Over – Exile

Last Dance – Donna Summer

Le Freak – Chic

Long, Long Way From Home – Foreigner

Macho Man – Village People

Magnet And Steel – Walter Egan

Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf

Point Of Know Return – Kansas

Poor Poor Pitiful Me Song – Linda Ronstadt

Roll With The Changes – REO Speedwagon

Shadow Dancing – Andy Gibb

Since You Been Gone – Head East

Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill

Surrender – Cheap Trick

Thank You For Being A Friend – Andrew Gold

That Smell – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Three Times A Lady – Commodores

Thunder Island – Jay Ferguson

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late – Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams

Two Tickets To Paradise – Eddie Money

Use Ta Be My Girl – The O’Jays

What’s Your Name – Lynyrd Skynyrd

You Belong To Me – Carly Simon


Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers

Baby I’m – A Want You – Bread

Beginnings – Chicago

Black Magic Woman – Santana

Colour My World – Chicago

Eighteen – Alice Cooper

Got To Be There – Michael Jackson

Groove Me – King Floyd

I’ve Seen All Good People: (A) Your Move (B) All Good People – Yes

If I Were Your Woman – Gladys Knight And The Pips

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) Song – Marvin Gaye

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye

Me And You And A Dog Named Boo – Lobo

Rock Steady – Aretha Franklin

Sooner Or Later – The Grass Roots

Treat Her Like A Lady – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

When You’re Hot, You’re Hot – Jerry Reed


A Horse With No Name – America

American Pie – Don McLean

Anticipation – Carly Simon

Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me – Mac Davis

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass

Coconut – Nilsson

Go All The Way – Raspberries

Hold Your Head Up – Argent

If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right) – Luther Ingram

If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes

I’d Love You To Want Me – Lobo

I Just Want To Make Love To You – Foghat

I’ll Be Around – Spinners

I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers

Lean On Me – Bill Withers

Let’s Stay Together – Al Green

Me And Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul

Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites

One Way Out – The Allman Brothers Band

Rock And Roll Part 2 – Gary Glitter

Rockin’ Down The Highway – The Doobie Brothers

Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson

Saturday In The Park – Chicago

Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts

Sunday Morning Sunshine – Harry Chapin

Sunshine – Jonathan Edwards

That’s The Way I Feel About Cha – (The Preacher) Bobby Womack (& Peace)

The City Of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie

Troglodyte (Cave Man) – Jimmy Castor Bunch

Too Late To Turn Back Now – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

Use Me – Bill Withers

Ventura Highway – America

Wishing Well – Free

Woman From Tokyo – Deep Purple


Amie – Pure Prairie League

At Seventeen Song – Janis Ian

Bad Blood – Neil Sedaka

Black Water – The Doobie Brothers

Chevy Van – Sammy Johns

Cut The Cake – AWB

Dance With Me – Orleans

Diamonds And Rust – Joan Baez

Feel Like Makin’ Love – Bad Company

Fire – Ohio Players

Fly Robin Fly – Silver Convention

Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Get Down Tonight – KC & The Sunshine Band

I’m Not In Love – 10cc

Island Girl – Elton John

Jackie Blue – Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Lady Marmalade – LaBelle

Laughter In The Rain – Neil Sedaka

Let’s Do It Again – The Staple Singers

Lonely People – America

Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players

Lovin’ You – Minnie Riperton

Take The Highway – The Marshall Tucker Band

The Hustle – Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony

Magic – Pilot

Midnight Blue – Melissa Manchester

Must Have Got Lost – J. Geils Band

My Eyes Adored You – Frankie Valli

Never Been Any Reason – Head East

Pick Up The Pieces – AWB

Poetry Man – Phoebe Snow

Roll On Down The Highway – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Saturday Night Special – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Sex Machine Part 1 – James Brown

Sister Golden Hair – America

Some Kind Of Wonderful – Grand Funk

That’s The Way Of The World – Earth, Wind & Fire

There Goes Another Love Song – Outlaws

This Will Be – Natalie Cole

Why Can’t We Be Friends? – War

You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker


Baby, What A Big Surprise – Chicago

Best Of My Love – The Emotions

Blinded By The Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt

Boogie Nights – Heatwave

Brick House – Commodores

Calling Dr. Love – Kiss

Can’t You See (Live) – The Marshall Tucker Band

Cat Scratch Fever – Ted Nugent

Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas

Dazz – Brick

Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Crystal Gayle

Don’t Leave Me This Way – Thelma Houston

Easy – Commodores

Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1) – Marvin Gaye

Heard It In A Love Song – The Marshall Tucker Band

I’m Your Boogie Man – KC And The Sunshine Band

It’s So Easy – Linda Ronstadt

Lonely Boy – Andrew Gold

Love And Happiness – Al Green

My Sharona – The Knack

Peace Of Mind – Boston

Rich Girl – Daryl Hall & John Oates

Right Time Of The Night – Jennifer Warnes

Smoke From A Distant Fire – The Sanford/Townsend Band

So In To You – Atlanta Rhythm Section

The Things We Do For Love – 10cc

We’re All Alone – Rita Coolidge

When I Need You – Leo Sayer 

Year Of The Cat – Al Stewart

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing – Leo Sayer


Babe – Styx

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

Chuck E.’S In Love – Rickie Lee Jones

Good Girls Don’t – The Knack

Good Times – Chic

Good Times Roll – The Cars

Got To Be Real – Cheryl Lynn

Heart Of Glass – Blondie

Hold The Line – Toto

Hot Stuff – Donna Summer

I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

Just Remember I Love You – Firefall

Just When I Needed You Most – Randy Vanwarmer

Lady Song – Little River Band

Lead Me On – Maxine Nightingale

Let’s Go – The Cars

On The Radio – Donna Summer

Ooh Baby Baby – Linda Ronstadt

Renegade – Styx

Reunited – Peaches & Herb

Rubber Biscuit – Blues Brothers

Sad Eyes – Robert John

Sail On – Commodores

September – Earth, Wind & Fire

Shake Your Groove Thing – Peaches & Herb

Still – Commodores

The Devil Went Down To Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band

Train, Train – Blackfoot

Y.M.C.A. – Village People

We Are Family – Sister Sledge

Who Do You Love – George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Young Blood – Rickie Lee Jones