Music as Identity – Part 4 – Singer Songwriters

Growing up, one of the primary types of music my parents listened to was the singer-songwriters of the early ’70’s. James Taylor was probably the biggest since I know his songs so well. They evoke some much emotion and comfort when I listen to them. Then there were the two American women Carole King and Carly Simon. Carole King was one I actually stumbled on recently. I heard a greatest hits and realized, hey, I know all those. Then there was the Canadian, Gordon Lightfoot. I really like Lightfoot for the folk aspect of his songs, there is a very personal feeling to his songs and his voice. There was also Simon & Garfunkel, who’s work probably needs no explanation.

Lastly, probably the ones my sister and I know best were John Denver and Barry Manilow. We took a road trip out to Colorado in the late seventies. As was tradition with each of our road trips, we bought a tape or two and played them on the trip. A tour of Lake Michigan was Christopher Cross (Ride like the Wind). Cooperstown, Boston, and Acadia was 1984 by Van Halen. The Pacific northwest was Phil Collins and Billy Joel. But our trip to Colorado was none other than John Denver and Rocky Mountain High. Barry Manilow was played at home. It was our first live concert at Ravinia Music Festival Grounds north of Chicago. I have the impression my sister and I spent the night taking turns on my fathers shoulders in order to see the show.

Other singer-songwriters and bands that we listened to include: Jim Croce, Don McLean, Harry Chapin, Elton John, the Carpenters, Bread, Chicago, and Kansas. We didn’t listen to rock, disco, or Motown much, so it wasn’t until later I learned more about Led Zepplin or the Rolling Stones. Though we did have the Saturday Night Fever album and it got heavy rotation.

It is interesting to look back at that time and that music in the context of what came after it. From there my tastes when to Pop/early New Wave, to New Wave & Industrial, to Dance Music, to… The explanation for the fairly radical switch was probably that I had entered the adolescent years. It has been nice to revisit the music of these singer-songwriters over the past few years.

Next up, I will skip from high school to the present and look at Electronica/Chill Out music.


~ by Frank on December 14, 2005.

8 Responses to “Music as Identity – Part 4 – Singer Songwriters”

  1. Well at least I know every single singer songwriter you’ve mentioned! I am a big fan of everybody you mentioned. You forgot one, though. Dan Fogelberg? He was a big singer songwriter of the 1970s and 1980s.

    I thought it was interesting that this was the music you heard at home, whereas I heard Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and the classical icons my dad is into, sprinkled heavily with the show tunes/ musicals/1940s singers that my mom loves.

    And I am one of the biggest BeeGee fans on the planet — got into them backwards, however. I became a fan of their younger brother Andy first, and then discovered the BeeGees through Andy. Nice to know there are some other family members who enjoy all these singer/songwriters.

    Barry Manilow still makes me cringe, though.

  2. I forgot about Fogelberg. I remember Tchaikovsky being a favorite in the few times we listened to classical music.

    But Barry wrote the songs that made the young girls cry.

  3. Fogelberg also has an Illini connection — did you know? More importantly to you, he was an architecture student. He used to perform at the Red Herring in Urbana. I saw him at the Assembly Hall in October 1981-ish (You think YOU’RE old!). It was the Innocent Age tour, and his father was in the audience when he sang Leader of the Band, which was about his dad. Really cool concert. I went out the next morning, on a student’s budget, and bought every Fogelberg album (yes, vinyl) I could find. I didn’t even have a turntable at school! Had to wait until Thanksgiving to hear them!

    Barry is a good songwriter, I will grant you that. But he drives me crazy for some reason. I do like the American Bandstand theme he wrote.

  4. Brings back memories. All good ones. I was the culprit who came up with the idea of a different artist/song for those vacation trips. I thought it would be a good reminder of those trips as we hear those songs played long after the trip. I was trying to remember, a difficult task at my advanced age, of the trip where ‘Sailing” by CC was the song of the trip. I thought it was Door county but it may have been Bar Harbor.
    I truly enjoy these blogs. Somehow they should be archived so your kids can read them. Who knows maybe your grandaughter would write a book from them.

    Can you imagine if my Mother has the resources to do this when she was alive! Wouldn’t that history be great.

  5. Cathy, I kinda remember something about Fogelberg being in the architecture school.

    Mr. Elder, I remember CC and Lightfoot being trips near Chicago like a tour around Lake Michigan or Door County. I’m pretty sure Van Halen was New England. Always seemed like a funny choice after the singer-songwriters. What was the album for the Knoxville-DC trip? The great thing about this blog is being able to get some of my inner dialogue written down.

  6. Knoxville was for the Worlds Fair- 1980? Usually we had recent pop singers of that year. No specific one comes to mind for that trip. Possibly, Miss or Ms can recall.Did you retain the dates of the various trips?

  7. Christopher Cross was definitely a Lake Michigan/Lake Superior trip. I hardly remember where we went on the trip specifically but I do remember catching tadpoles in egg cartons and making a sailboat out of a quart milk carton.

    The one you missed was Kenny Rodgers on a trip to Minnesota. I specifically remember jamming out to The Gambler as we drove around Big Pine lake (odd memory, isn’t it).

    On the trip to the northeast Dad and I went into a music store and that’s where he bought Van Halen’s 1984 (and I got the tape from New Edition). Yes, the selection did seem to stick out differently than the rest.

    I can’t remember any music at all from the Knoxville/DC trip. It does seem rather strange since all our other trips have a “theme song”.

    I’ll tell you another thing about those trips. There was one trip in particular, Badlands, South Dakota, I think, where we had nothing to drink for a while except Diet Pepsi. That’s it, no other choices. To this day, I cringe everytime I taste it.

    Frank, do some more blogs about the trips. It would be interesting to compare notes. Where was your favorite place? Which trip was the most fun? Which would you do/not do again? Where would you like to go that you haven’t been?

    Back to the music – yes, Barry does write the songs but I understand how he makes you cringe.

  8. I was wondering about Kenny Rodgers. Didn’t know which one that might be. Yeah, I don’t remember a theme song for Knoxville/DC either. I didn’t know New Edition was bought on that trip, though I don’t think we listened to it much in the car.

    I thought the memory of David Lee Roth singing Panama while driving through Acadia was odd. The thing I remember about that trip was getting some sort of stomach bug where I would get intense pain after every meal.

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