I know we’re already a few days into this brand spanking new year and I may be late on this, but let me wish all of you a Happy New Year! It’s 2023 which when I was kid would have sounded like a date from the reruns of Star Trek we all watched religiously after school… I can almost hear Captain Kirk saying, “Star Date 2023… and I’ve just met a captivating green woman…” I don’t know if other families are like mine when it comes to Christmas, but right around Thanksgiving the Rock Chick suddenly morphs into Mrs. Claus. A tree pops up fully decorated and there are lights strung everywhere. Suddenly gone from the stereo are the latest LPs from the Cult or Bush replaced by (gads) Mariah Carey and Bing Crosby. Xmas is a terribly frightful time for me even if I am a reformed Grinch. I only like a little of the Xmas music…so I suffer most of it. But once the relatives have gone home and our daughter heads to the airport the Rock Chick shuts Xmas down like somebody threw a light switch or a referee has blown a whistle. Down comes the tree and the lights. The forest of poinsettias gets mowed down like somebody struck oil in the living room. That’s one thing about the Rock Chick, she’s not sentimental. Once Christmas passes, it’s pull off the red, green and white band-aid time.
Then we enter that weird week between Xmas and New Year’s Day. The Rock Chick, who literally single-handedly does everything for Xmas, sort of collapses in exhaustion. I wander around the house wondering which day of the week it is. It’s during this time that I go into a deep fog of heavy reflection. Typically that produces my year end “best of” list for the previous 12 months and 2022 was no exception. But of course the range of my reflection goes well beyond just music. I ruminate over tumblers of dark, murky liquids about everything. I think most people get a little reflective during that week between the holidays…nothing to do at work, might as well ruminate. There’s nothing that reminds us more of the ticking of the clock than the end of one year and the beginning of the next. As Jackson Browne famously sang, “I’ve been aware of the time going by, they say in the end it’s a wink of an eye.” Questions like “What did I accomplish this year?” or “How far have I come in life?” are naturally rolling around our heads during that time.
Then New Year’s Day hits and everyone is slightly hungover and it’s time to look forward towards the future. People start asking different questions like “What will I accomplish this year?” or “How can I improve myself this year?” and so on. This is the time that everybody starts making New Year’s Resolutions. I usually do the dreaded “Dry January,” but not this year. Dry January was easy to do when the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t competitive. Now that they’re in the playoffs most January’s it’s virtually impossible for me to stay completely sober down the stretch. I have to do my part to help them win, which typically means consuming beer and pacing in front of the TV. I considered giving up coffee but… why? I have noticed my local gym is now packed with new people and will likely remain so until mid-February when all of this New Year/New Me mania wears off.
While most people start thinking about the future I can’t help myself, I’m always a little stuck in that reflective mode in January, looking backward. I’ve come to realize over the years that the only thing I can change about the past is how I look at it or how I react to it which helps frame it (or perhaps tame it is more appropriate). Naturally all of this reflection eventually leads me back to music. A couple of years ago (2021) I read an article about 1971 being the greatest year ever in music. Many of the albums released in ’71 were celebrating 50th anniversaries and I have to admit it was an amazing year for music. I actually put together a 1971 Playlist culled from those landmark LPs released that year and really enjoyed doing so. Last year, 2022, I looked back again to 1972 (complete with playlist) and again, I really enjoyed it. 1971 to me was really the last gasp of the era we identify as the 60’s and 1972, to me anyway, was the real birth of the 70s. I don’t subscribe to the theory that when the calendar goes from a year that ends in “9” to a year that ends in “0” music and culture just change on a dime. There’s usually a slow fade of one decade and a slow blossoming of the new.
In that spirit, I thought I’d look back 50 years again, this time to 1973. Let me be real clear though, in 1973 I was still counting years in single digits. I had very few clear memories from ’71 or even ’72. 1973 is the first year I can admit to remembering… well, I remember hearing some of the songs on this list anyway. So much of this music from 1973 was in high rotation when I started listening to music years later, it’s almost iconic. I joked when listening to all that great music from 1971 I needed a leather, fringe jacket ala David Crosby to satisfy my hippy Jones. Listening to music from ’73 makes me remember riding around in mom’s green Ford with the AM radio cranked. What I’d need to celebrate my 70s Jones would probably be a polyester leisure suit that curiously matches what my brother has on.
1973 was such a tumultuous time for the world. It started off on a bummer when Nixon was inaugurated for his second term. Even then Watergate hung over his Administration. Later in the year we saw what is now known as the Saturday Night Massacre where Nixon fired his Attorney General and Deputy AG in order to circumvent the rule of law. Fun times. OPEC started an oil embargo and I remember seeing long lines at gas stations. The Vietnam Peace was still being negotiated in Paris. Thug Spiro Agnew resigned as the VP of the U.S. and was replaced with clumsy Gerald Ford. Pinochet came to power in Chile to tragic consequences. There was a war in the Middle East on Yom Kippur. George Foreman beat Joe Frazier and became the heavy weight champ… Ali was watching and working up his rope-a-dope act even then I suppose. The Godfather, one of my absolute favorite movies came out that year. I still like to say, when something’s gone wrong, “You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.” We’d shifted away from the hippy good vibes of the 60s and the Me Generation took root. It all sounds like a drag… at least we had some great music in 1973.
There were a lot of great, legendary artists who put out their debut albums in 1973: Springsteen (who put out 2 LPs that year), Aerosmith, Tom Waits, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Queen. Talk about a list of artists who shaped the 70s, that’s it. Many artists put out 2 LPs in ’73: Elton John, Al Green, Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac (in pre-Buckingham/Nicks configuration), Bob Marley and Bowie. We got great LPs from huge acts like Zeppelin and the Who which didn’t happen in ’72. All four ex-Beatles put out solo LPs in ’73 as did other acts who emerged from 60s bands: Paul Simon, Gram Parsons (posthumously), David Ruffin, and Stephen Stills (with Manassas). The world discovered Bob Marley & the Wailers as they started their time with Island Records and went international. While many may crinkle their noses at 1973 as compared to ’71 or ’72, I have to admit there were so many great albums put out in that year I had over 110 songs to start this thing. I had to make really hard choices to winnow it down to these 70 tracks because as wonderful as my pithy comments on the tracks are, no one wants to read 110 song comments… That many great albums has gotta say something about the quality of the music from ’73. And I didn’t even include anything from Neil Young’s Time Fades Away or Bob Seger’s Back In ’72 because neither of those albums are available on Spotify…
As usual I based this list on tracks from LPs released in ’73. If a song was released in ’72 and reigned the charts in ’73 you won’t find it here. I’m into LPs. There are a few exceptions – singles I couldn’t resist putting on here – but they were all released in 1973. I tend to gravitate toward deep tracks but for ’73 I put more “hit” songs on here than usual. You can find this playlist on Spotify under “BourbonAndVinyl. 1973” and as always if you have additions you’d like me to make, mention them in the comments and I’ll add them on the Spotify list. I always look at these playlists as “our” playlists. I always play these on “shuffle.”
- Bruce Springsteen, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., “Spirit In The Night” – From the Boss’ debut. A group of youngsters go out to a local lake and party.
- Aerosmith, Aerosmith, “Dream On” – This song, which didn’t really get popular until a few years later when Aerosmith broke big in 75/76 may have invented the power ballad.
- Little Feat, Dixie Chicken, “Dixie Chicken” – I love Little Feat and this is their most famous song. Boy meets girl, girl leaves with a guitar player… a story as old as time.
- Elton John, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, “Elderberry Wine” – I went with this deep track that I’d also used on our Drinking Playlist because it’s one of my favorite Elton deep tracks. I like the line, “the bottle went round like a woman down south, passed on from hand to hand.”
- Gram Parsons, G.P., “She” – Gram Parsons, a Southerner, writing about his mama and how she could sing.
- Deep Purple, Who Do We Think We Are, “Woman From Tokyo” – One of my favorites from Deep Purple.
- Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” – I could have picked about any track off this album, my favorite from Alice Cooper. It does sort of capture the Alice persona.
- The Stooges, Raw Power, “Search And Destroy” – Iggy Pop and the Stooges with an iconic hard rock song that helped inspire a lot of punk bands.
- Dr. John, In The Right Place, “Right Place Wrong Time” – Sadly, we lost Dr. John recently (2020). B.B. King later did a nice cover of this. I have literally always been in the right place at the wrong time.
- Dusty Springfield, Cameo, “Tupelo Honey” – Dusty covering Van Morrison. Not as epic as the original but still a great song.
- David Ruffin, David Ruffin, “(If Lovin’ You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right” – The former front man of the Temptations and one of my favorite singers. Rod Stewart covered this song later in the 70s and hearing this you can absolutely hear the influence.
- Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon, “Money” – The album that changed everything for Pink Floyd. Iconic.
- The Doobie Brothers, The Captain And Me, “Dark Eyed Cajun Lady” – I went with this deep track vs the myriad hits on the album as it’s just a great country rock track.
- Tom Waits, Closing Time, “Ol’ 55” – I love this LP, but I’m partial to debut LPs. This version is so much better than the one by the Eagles done a few years later.
- The Byrds, The Byrds, “Full Circle” – From the final reunion of the original members of the Byrds. It was a dud commercially but this is a great Gene Clark song.
- Led Zeppelin, Houses Of The Holy, “Over The Hills And Far Away” – Probably the best known track from the album. I almost went with “The Ocean” a favorite of the Rock Chick.
- Faces, Ooh La La, “Cindy Incidentally” – The Faces’ last gasp. It was the single, although the title track should have been. This LP is much better than it’s reputation.
- Fleetwood Mac, Penguin, “Remember Me” – A really pretty track from the late Christine McVie.
- Johnny Winter, Still Alive And Well, “Silver Train” – Johnny shaking his magic blues dust on a Stones track. Great Stones cover.
- J. Geils Band, Bloodshot, “Give It To Me” – This track starts off with a reggae vibe and turns into a guitar jam. It’s loose and perfect.
- David Bowie, Aladdin Sane, “The Jean Genie” – A song I used to nickname my good friend Jeanne… Aladdin Sane gets attention for it’s iconic cover, but trust me, pull the record out and put it on the turntable. I almost picked “Panic In Detroit” from this one.
- Bob Marley & The Wailers, Catch A Fire, “Stir It Up” – If you haven’t explored Marley any deeper than the greatest hits Legend, you need to. Start with this LP.
- Eagles, Desperado, “Tequila Sunrise” – From the second album. I left the title track for Linda Ronstadt below.
- Stephen Stills (Manassas), Down The Road, “Isn’t It About Time” – The second Manassas LP gets overlooked but this is a great Stills tune.
- Wings (Paul McCartney), Red Rose Speedway, “My Love” – From the first of 2 albums in ’73. Paul waxing on about his love does him good.
- Al Green, Call Me, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” – Even when he’s singing a break up song, Al sounds happy. One of his best tracks here.
- The Marshall Tucker Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, “Can’t You See” – Still one of my favorite train songs.
- Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, “Kodachrome” – I can close my eyes when I hear this and I’m in the back seat of mom’s car as she careens through traffic.
- George Harrison, Living In The Material World, “Give Me Love, (Give Me Peace On Earth)” – If you remove the ex-Beatle expectations Harrison faced, this album would have been much bigger. It’s fantastic a real gem.
- Joe Walsh, The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get, “Rocky Mountain Way” – One of the greatest rock anthems of all time.
- Sly & The Family Stone, Fresh, “If You Want Me To Stay” – I’m not a huge Sly fan but I’ve always loved this track.
- Bob Dylan, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (Soundtrack), “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – Dylan’s iconic song later covered by Eric Clapton, Guns N Roses, and Warren Zevon to name a few.
- Queen, Queen, “Keep Yourself Alive” – I forget how hard Queen rocked in those early days.
- Grand Funk Railroad, We’re An American Band, “We’re An American Band” – A little patriotic rock n roll!
- ZZ Top, Tres Hombres, “La Grange” – From their best LP.
- New York Dolls, New York Dolls, “Personality Crisis” – I love the New York Dolls. This is basically early American punk rock.
- Steely Dan, Countdown To Ecstacy, “My Old School” – One of Steely’s best tracks from their second album. It’s based on a true story when Messrs Becker and Fagan were in college.
- Golden Earring, Moontan, “Radar Love” – This is one of those rock anthems that grabbed me in ’73 even before I’d started listening to music. I think this band had only 2 hits and this one is my favorite.
- Stevie Wonder, Innervisions, “Higher Ground” – Later covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers which the Rock Chick likes better. Don’t tell her but I’m partial to the original.
- Lynyrd Skynyrd, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), “Gimme Three Steps” – Great song about talking to the wrong woman in a bar.
- The Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” – I could have gone with “Angie” but we’ve all heard that one 100 times.
- The Allman Brothers Band, Brothers And Sisters, “Jessica” – Their finest instrumental. I love when the piano solo kicks in, played by Chuck Leavell who later played with Eric Clapton and the Stones. I could have gone with “Ramblin’ Man” but this is a personal favorite.
- Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On, “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin has left behind the worldy concerns of 1971’s What’s Going On for more…temporal concerns.
- Van Morrison, Hard Nose The Highway, “Warm Love” – A great song from an uneven album.
- Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” – An epic that became a concert staple for years. This is my absolute favorite Springsteen album.
- Thin Lizzy, Vagabonds Of The Western World, “Whiskey In A Jar” – Thin Lizzy never got their due. This track was later covered by Metallica.
- Linda Ronstadt, Don’t Cry Now, “Desperado” – It was Ronstadt’s cover of “Desperado” that helped make the song a hit for the Eagles.
- Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, “Bennie And The Jets” – From his second legendary LP of the year. I could have picked almost any track on the album but I’m partial to this one for sentimental reasons.
- Fleetwood Mac, Mystery To Me, “Hypnotized” – This one is a great track from Bob Welch.
- Grateful Dead, Wake Of The Flood, “Eyes Of The World” – I had to have some Dead on here. It’s 1973.
- Bob Marley & The Wailers, Burnin’, “Get Up, Stand Up” – I may like Burnin’ even better than Catch A Fire.
- Montrose, Montrose, “Bad Motor Scooter” – The world’s introduction to Sammy Hagar. A young lad is afraid of his girlfriend’s dad but still wants her to come out for a motorcycle ride.
- Steve Miller Band, The Joker, “The Joker” – A song that takes me back to college… but those records are sealed.
- Peter Frampton, Frampton’s Camel, “Do You Feel Like We Do” – Frampton never seemed to find the magic in the studio but the more I go back and listen to original versions of tunes that we all heard live for the first time on Frampton Comes Alive the more I like them.
- Rick Derringer, All American Boy, “Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo” – A song he originally did when he was in the Johnny Winter band.
- Jackson Browne, For Everyman, “These Days” – Jackson’s 2nd album was mostly comprised of songs he’d written for other people prior to getting his own record contract. “These Days” had been covered by Nico and Gregg Allman and is truly one of his greatest songs.
- Gregg Allman, Laid Back, “Midnight Rider” – A complete re-imagining of the original. I probably like the band version better but I love this version as well.
- Ringo Starr, Ringo, “Photograph” – It’s nice to think that Ringo used to have hits.
- J. Geils Band, Ladies Invited, “The Lady Makes Demands” – Another great song from J Geils Band. They were just too loose and groovy in the early days to hit it bit. Too bad, it’s all great music.
- Paul McCartney & Wings, Live And Let Die Soundtrack, “Live And Let Die” – The name is Bond, James Bond.
- Billy Joel, Piano Man, “Piano Man” – From his second album which is considered his debut by many. Autobiographical.
- John Lennon, Mind Games, “Mind Games” – Lennon’s solo work is often called “uneven,” but I love this song.
- Alice Cooper, Muscle Of Love, “Teenage Lament ’74” – A ballad from their second LP of the year.
- Electric Light Orchestra, On The Third Day, “Showdown” – I like to give my friend Doug shit about being an ELO fan but I love this song. A lover telling his lady, “there’s gonna be a showdown” baby. Sadly been there.
- Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” – Such a great, heavy tune. Their first five LPs are perfect.
- Wings (Paul McCartney), Band On The Run, “Jet” – Again, I could have picked any song on this album. I just like this one.
- The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” – I live too close to the Ozarks not to have included this one. I took this as gospel… so I raised a little Hell. Well, maybe a lot of Hell.
- Sweet, Released as a single, “Ballroom Blitz” – A great great single. Iconic.
- T. Rex, Released as a single, “20th Century Boy” – I’ve only recently gotten on the T Rex bandwagon but I think this is one of their best songs outside of “Bang A Gong.”
- The Who, Quadrophenia, “Love Reign O’er Me” – The perfect end for this playlist and the album it came from. I remember feeling this way once upon a time…
There it is folks, 1973 in song. Again, if I missed one of your favorites – and believe me I had to remove a bunch of songs and this is still my longest playlist ever – just mention your tune in the comments and I’ll add it to the playlist.
Again, Happy New Year and I hope that 2023 is a serene and happy year for everybody.