The best music of 1970, and how we’re coming back to it

From Alexandra DiPalma, Midmorning assistant producer:

When listener Josh Collins turned on the radio and heard the Beatles playing today, he sent a worried tweet:


Flipped on Midmorning with @KerriMPR, heard Beatles and suddenly worried that something had happened to Ringo or Paul. Guess not. Whew.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Fortunately, Paul and Ringo are fine. “Let It Be” was one of several songs discussed during Midmorning’s look at the music and culture of 1970. Here’s the show:

Author David Browne and pop critic extraordinaire Ann Powers joined Midmorning to revisit what Browne calls “the moment at which the remaining slivers of the idealism of the 1960s began surrendering to the buzz-kill comedown of the decade ahead.”

In his book Fire and Rain Browne describes the final concert of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1970 tour. Several Midmorning listeners were right there in the front row of the Met Arena in Bloomington. Many of the 10,000 audience members might not have known how volatile that tour was, or known that during the kick-off show in Denver, Neil Young threw down his guitar and stormed off the stage, nearly ending the tour before it began.

Phone lines were full throughout Midmorning and we were inundated with online comments from listeners eager to share their stories. There was, understandably, some nowadays-ing – there’s something missing from today’s music, there’s nothing to listen to on the radio, the sound of MP3s can’t possibly compare to the sound of vinyl.

But Ann and David both agreed: We’re back to denim jackets, harmonies and beards. Bands like Fleet Foxes, described by The Independent as “a hairy bunch of young folk-rockers…[who] sound like the heavenly, harmonizing love child of Brian Wilson and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young”), Bon Iver and Middle Brother are bringing back folky-hippie music in a big way.

While Browne’s book focuses on The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and CSNY, several listeners mentioned some of the other legendary musical events of 1970. Black Sabbath put out its first album on Friday the 13th of February. Joni Mitchell released “Big Yellow Taxi.” Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died.

What were some other moments we missed? What are your memories of music from 1970? What stories did you want to share?

Here are some live versions of music from this legendary year that didn’t make it onto today’s show:

James Taylor, Sweet Baby James (September 13, 1970)

The Beatles, Let It Be (1970)

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Down by the River (1970)

Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi (1970)