Music to My Years is going back to 1976 this week. I turned 5 years old. By this point we moved to Horsell in Surrey and 10 Bridge Close. A house where I have some of my fondest childhood memories. I started school at Goldsworth First – which I really disliked (but wished I hadn’t!). My sister and brother were still my only siblings.
There is some fantastic music in this year and my top ten has not been easy to pick! It has been hard to pick good songs over ones which I have great memories to Once again there are quite a few honourable mentions – and many of them come with fantastic memories. These include:
- Queen – You’re My Best Friend
- The Walker Brothers – No Regrets
- Dolly Parton – Jolene
- Bonnie Tyler – Lost In France (one of the first music videos I remember and a song I used to sing all the time!)
- Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music
- Abba – Money Money Money
- The Miracles – Love Machine
- Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
- CW McCall – Convoy (this will always remind me of my brother and the film Convoy. He used to sing this whilst peddling his go-kart round the garden!)
- (in previous weeks, this would have made the top 10!)
- Barry White – You See The Trouble With Me
- Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You (I hadn’t realised this song was that old!)
- Wings – Let ‘Em In (this will always remind me of my Uncle Jeff (a family friend) and him humming it all the time!)
- The Real Thing – Can’t Get By Without You
- Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
- The Wurzels – Combine Harvester
- The Four Seasons – December ’63
- The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
- Abba – Dancing Queen
- Dr Hook – A Little Bit More
- Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
As I am now a radio presenter on Radio Ninesprings, and I will be sharing my Top 10 all week and sharing 1 track from the list each day, Monday to Friday, on my show from 3pm. Plus, there is now a compilation show on Sunday’s at 6pm.
10. If You Leave Me Now By Chicago
I haven’t actually got a specific memory surrounding this one. I just know I really like it!
The song was written by Peter Cetera who is the singer and bass player for the band. It was released as a single on July 31, 1976 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 on October 23, 1976. It stayed there for two weeks, making it the first number one hit for the group. The song was also Chicago’s biggest hit internationally, topping the charts in the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Netherlands. In the UK it stayed at number one position for three weeks.
Apparently Terry Kath used to walk off stage quietly when the band would perform it as he was the member who wasn’t present in the studio when they recorded it.
9. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart By Elton John and Kiki Dee
We had a number of tracks which became ‘family songs’ over the years and this is the first of them. I can remember it being the first actual record I held! It used to be on our record player a lot at the weekends and I have found memories of us all singing along to it. The song also reminds me of the heat wave of that year!
The song was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in the style of a Motown track. It was originally supposed to be recorded with Dusty Springfield but she was too ill at the time. It was the first No. 1 single in the UK for both Elton John and Kiki Dee, topping the chart for six weeks in mid 1976. Elton John didn’t get a solo number 1 until ‘Sacrifice’ in 1990.
8. Blinded by The Light By Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Can you believe that this song was a cover version – and originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen! Of course, this version is far more well known. It is probably one of the most well known covers of all time.
Manfred Mann changed several lyrics, including changing “cut loose like a deuce” to “revved up like a deuce,” which many people then misheard as “wrapped up like a douche.” Springsteen has even joked that his song did not become popular until it was re-written to be about feminine hygiene products!
Never mind all that though, it is a great song!
7. Let’s STick Together by Bryan Ferry
Now this song is one that will always remind me of my parents – and a road trip we took to go on holiday which ended in a bit of a nightmare!
We were driving along in our Hillman Hunter and I was sitting on my mum’s lap in the front of the car (you could in those days!) when our windscreen shattered. The glass cut mine and my mums legs. I think my dad was wearing trousers so he was ok. I can remember us pulling up to a garage to get the windscreen fixed and we all sat and ate ice cream.
Years later, it turned into a better memory for me. It was the song that my brother and my new sister-in-law had playing as they walked down the aisle after getting married. And, nearly 12 year later, they are sticking together!
6. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Leo Sayer
This is the first of 3 songs on my chart this week which nearly made it into the pantomime I directed back in 2012. So it shows what an impression 1976 made on me!
It is a song about a girl that brings happiness into the singer’s life and it was Leo Sayer’s first number 1 hit on the US billboard charts, followed rapidly by “When I Need You,” which was also his first UK number 1. He had a pretty solid performance on the UK charts, scoring Top-20 hits from 1973 to 1983, and had another had another number 1 hit in 2006 with “Thunder In My Heart.”
5. Silly Love Songs by Paul MCCartney and Wings
Here is another song that hasn’t got any specific memories for me but it has always been there and is one of my favourite McCartney tracks.
This was the answer to much soul searching on McCartney’s part as to whether he put too much stock in “love songs.” He once commented: “The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental. If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public they won’t. We don’t like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that. And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that’s what they seem to crave.”
Paul wrote this in response to a post-Beatles breakup comment by John Lennon, in which Lennon claimed that the only songs that Paul wrote for the Beatles were “Silly Love Songs.”
4. Mamma Mia By Abba
A song that firstly reminds me of the first school trip where I stayed away from home – a few years after this was released! We stayed on a working ship in Portsmouth called The Foudroyant. One of the girls on our mess table, Sam Wilson, kept singing ‘mamma mia, here I go again, my my, how to make a cherry pie’! because that is what we were served up as pudding.
Years later, it reminds me of the early years of my daughter, Grace, as she would stand on our coffee table and sing along to the film of the same name!
3. Livin’ Thing By Electric Light Orchestra
My weekends are full of memories of my father putting ELO on the record player – and, because of this, and the fact that Jeff Lynne is a brilliant song writer, ELO are still a massive part of my life today. I can still remember my father singing along to this track.
Apparently there has been a lot of speculation as to what this song was written about. Some people thing it is an anti-abortion song, whilst Jeff Lynne has said it is simply about the loss of love, although its initial inspiration was a bout of food poisoning. He let that slip in a talk with Hi-Fi News & Record Review in 2014. “You’ll never be able to listen to it the same again,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s about a bad paella on a Spanish holiday.”!!
2. Somebody to Love By Queen
The second song of 3 to be considered for my pantomime – but this one made it! It was the last song of the first act when Cinderella was getting ready to go to the ball. Jess, who played Cinderella, sung it beautifully and I was so lucky to have an amazing cast of very talented people.
According to Brian May, the gospel sound was inspired by the music of Aretha Franklin. This is widely reputed to have been Freddie Mercury’s favourite song he ever wrote.
1. Under The Moon Of Love By Showaddwaddy
This. This song is my childhood encapsulated! It was the third song I wanted for Cinderella for Buttons to sing. Alas, it wasn’t to be! I still absolutely love it. I had a bit of a crush on the lead singer, Dave Bartram, and I loved the big drums on the track. I also really appreciated the co-ordinated suits the band wore.
This song was originally recorded by Curtis Lee and was co-written by Tommy Boyce, who also wrote for The Monkees. In 1973, two 4-piece bands from Leicester – The Hammers and The Choice – decided to merge to become an 8-piece rock and roll group called Showaddywaddy. As a result, the new band had two of everything! They achieved their big break on New Faces. This song was their only number one and sold 985,000 copies in the UK. They went on to have 8 more UK Top-20 singles including in 1978 a cover of another Curtis Lee song, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes.”
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