Let’s kick off our first episode of 2023 with a look back 50 years to 1973. I’m joined on this episode by Andrew Grant Jackson, author of 1973: Rock At The Crossroads for a discussion of the music and history of the year that was 1973.
Andrew Grant Jackson is the author of 1973: Rock at the Crossroads, 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music, Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of the Beatles’ Solo Careers, Where’s Ringo? and Where’s Elvis? He’s written for Rolling Stone, Slate, Yahoo!, PopMatters, and Please Kill Me. He directed and co-wrote the feature film The Discontents starring Perry King and Amy Madigan. He lives in Los Angeles.
— This show is part of the Pantheon podcast network — THE place for music junkies, geeks, nerds, diehards and fans!
Hello, everybody. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and welcome to our first show of 2023. I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look back 50 years ago, to the year 1973, and see what was happening in music, and in the broader American cultural landscape, 50 years ago.
Some of you may remember a while back, I did an episode on the year 1965. That show was inspired by a book written by Andrew Grant Jackson on 1965. Well, Andrew also wrote a book about 1973. It’s called “1973 – Rock At The Crossroads”. And so I thought, if I’m going to do a show about 1973, I should invite Andrew to join me. So here’s my conversation with Andrew about the music that made history 50 years ago – in 1973.
BRAD: Andrew Grant Jackson. welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. Thanks so much for coming on the show to talk about 1973. We’re heading into 2023, so it’s a perfect time to look back 50 years ago. You literally wrote the book on 1973. It’s called “1973 – Rock At The Crossroads”. So I couldn’t have anyone better on the show, I think, to talk about 50 years ago, this year. So, let’s get right into it first. Why do you think 1973 was such a crucial year in rock history?
ANDREW: I like to think of it as the year that rock peaked and then began to die, but then was reborn, because on the one hand, it was the last blockbuster year where all these 60’s giants released classics at the same time. And then you had these veterans, who had been kind of toiling on the outskirts for a decade, who suddenly shot to the front. And then you had this amazing crop of these new superstars who released their debut album at the same time.
It was the year that radio programmers figured out how to synthesize AM Top 40 with FM progressive rock. And they created “album-oriented rock”. And then it began this period where, even though there’s obviously so much great classic rock, it started pushing anybody out who wasn’t arena rock or yacht rock or disco for a time. And so the seeds were planted there for stagnation. But then underneath the radar, there were all these new movements that started to percolate that would eventually rise up and rejuvenate popular music. So, it was just a chaotic, fascinating year on so many fronts to take a look at.
BRAD: Yeah. So let’s start talking about some of these records that came out in 1973.
ANDREW: We had the former Beatles, “Band On The Run” came out. And the Stones, they did “Goats Head Soup”, which at the time was dismissed as the beginning of their decline from like the peak, but I think it’s a very unique album in their canon, and I think it’s still a great album.
BRAD: Yeah, “Goats Head Soup” is one of my favorite Stones records. I think that’s a great record and a really underappreciated album.
ANDREW: And Dylan, he did “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” that year. And Zeppelin did “Houses of the Holy”, The Who did “Quadrophenia”, Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On”, Stevie Wonder “Innervisions”. James Brown had a bunch of great stuff. Even Elvis, you know, he had his peak in terms of audience with the “Aloha from Hawaii” special. So, yeah, all those guys were still cranking on all cylinders there.
BRAD: The who released “Quadrophenia”, as you mentioned. Pete Townsend has, I think, more than once said that in his opinion, “Quadrophenia”, is the last great who album. I love a lot of the stuff that came after that, but I think it’s their peak record in many ways.
Speaker E: Yeah, he was like looking back at ten years earlier, like the mod thing. It was like there was a lot of nostalgia going on that year, like “Happy Days” and “American Graffiti” and everything. And he was looking back at their early days, and definitely their last ambitious concept album after that, right?
BRAD: Yeah, “Quadrophenia” was their last real concept piece after that. You have “Who By Numbers” and “Who Are You”, “Face Dances”, “It’s Hard”, but none of those, they’re not a concept or a story or a rock opera or anything like that. But yeah, “Quadrophenia”, I mean, that alone makes 1973 worthwhile.
But yeah, on the soul and R&B front, you’ve got Marvin Gaye; Stevie Wonder is in his imperial period here, where he just can do no wrong, he’s putting out classic album after classic album and this is right in the midst of that.
BRAD: What did James Brown put out in 1973?
ANDREW: Yeah, James Brown had a really interesting year, because he got a lot of blowback because he had supported Nixon, the year before in the elections
ANDREW: Because, you know, you always wanted to get closer to power that could make legislative change. But also he had all these radio stations and tax issues going on, so, who knows, maybe that was his prime motivation, hoping to get some help with some of his issues, but for a while, people were protesting against him. But he had a lot of great stuff, like, he was doing all these soundtracks like “Black Caesar” and “Slaughter’s Big Ripoff”, “The Payback”, he did that one that year.
BRASD: And then we had some other artists that really hit their peak at this time, probably nobody bigger than Pink Floyd with “Dark Side of the Moon”. I mean, is there any more classic album than “Dark Side of the Moon”? That came out in ’73.
ANDREW: Yeah. And then it was on the charts for I forget, like 500 weeks or something like that.
ANDREW: You know, a lot of people thought especially, “Brain Damage”, on that song, he was writing about Sid Barrett, their former member who became an acid casualty. But I guess he was actually– Roger Waters– was writing about himself; he had some moments himself where he thought he had some flashes of mental illness,. and it kind of freaked him out. That’s probably, if you had to pick, of the albums, I guess that would probably be the one that everybody would pick.
BRAD: It’s certainly the one that’s had the most long-term impact.
BRAD: And then Elton John is kind of in his imperial phase, too.
BRAD: He puts out “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in 1973.
ANDREW: That year, that was when Reggae really started being embraced by the English guys. And a lot of people, like the Stones and Cat Stevens, went down to Jamaica to record and Elton John tried it, but they recorded maybe the first take or the roots of “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting”, but they were so freaked out, like, the recording studio was kind of guarded with guns and barbed wire and it had been pretty brutal. Unfortunately, the women who were in the Stones camp had been assaulted, sexually assaulted there. So, Elton John was kind of like, tried at Jamaica, but then he left and they went back to their favorite place in France.
BRAD: You mentioned reggae. This is the year of Bob Marley and the Wailers too, right?
ANDREW: Yeah, he had, two great albums that year, “Catch A Fire” and “Burning”. And “Burning” had “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Get Up, Stand Up” on it.
ANDREW: It’s so interesting, this is just one thing I love about ‘73 was, in that year, he played a bunch of shows at Max’s Kansas City, which the hippest of the hip clubs & bars in New York.
ANDREW: And he was like opening for Springsteen, or then Springsteen would open for him, and then Billy Joel was like opening for Waylon Jennings, you know, just so bizarre how all these titans who seem so distinct to us now, they were just overlapping with each other, coming up back then.
BRAD: Yeah, well, talking about Springsteen and Billy Joel, they’re just a few of the artists that put out their first records in 1973. So, let’s kind of take a look at that list: Springsteen releases “Greetings From Asbury Park”.
ANDREW: And then later the same year, he comes out with “The Wild, The Innocent & The East Street Shuffle”. He was really cooking, too.
BRAD: And this is not unique to 1973, but it’s an amazing thing that, throughout the 60’s and the 70’s, the rate at which artists were churning out records– 2 a year is not unusual, it’s the norm. Name almost any band in throughout the 60’s and 70’s and they’ve come out with at least two records a year. And a lot of these records have gone on to be classics, and just amazes me that anyone’s lucky to have one classic record in their catalog, you know– and these bands are doing, they’re coming out with two records a year of brilliance. It’s just amazing to me. And on top of that, they’re touring, so it’s not like they have a lot of luxury and time to make these records. But somehow, they’re able to just produce, year after year, great records, multiple records per year. It just amazes me. And now, artists go three, four years between records.
BRAD: Queen released their first album in 1973.
ANDREW: Aerosmith and the New York Dolls and Lynyrd Skynyrd. You know, those were, along with Springsteen and Billy Joel, there’s like six of the biggest debuts in one year.
BRAD: Yeah, I mean, you have a record like the first New York Dolls album, which didn’t really sell that much, but incredibly influential record.
BRAD: Like you said, Lynyrd Skynyrd puts out their first album. So, it’s really kind of the start of southern rock in a lot of ways.
ANDREW: Yeah, the Marshall Tucker Band came out that year and then, ZZ Top, with “LaGrange” came out, and the Alman Brothers had “Rambling Man” that year, too.
BRAD: Yeah. So it was definitely a high point for the Southern Rock sound. You’ve also got some, I think, overlooked records, like, well, I mentioned the New York Dolls record, it’s commercially overlooked. But Lou Reed released “Berlin”, which is my favorite Lou Reed record… I think, was not a successful record at the time, but in retrospect, I think it’s…
ANDREW: Yeah, it’s funny with that album, because it has this reputation as being the most depressing album of all time, because he had broken up with his wife,
ANDREW: But that year he had had probably his commercial peak, because Bowie produced his previous album, “Transformer”, which had “Walk On the Wild Side”, which that tune got pretty high up on the charts.
BRAD: In ‘73, talking about Bowie, Bowie had quite a year. He released “Aladdin Sane”.
ANDREW: After he released “Ziggy Stardust’ the previous year, then they toured the US, where, it was funny, they didn’t really make a big splash, except they started really coming through, and Glam was strangely big in Rust Belt towns like Detroit and Cleveland. So on “Aladdin Sane” he has “Panic In Detroit”, it’s a great tune, which was inspired by a lot of the stories you heard from like the MC5 and the Stooges.
ANDREW: In the UK, it was like it was Bowie-mania then, but he, at the peak of it, after his run of shows in July, he announced that the Spiders From Mars were breaking up. But they did one last covers album. He did another, like you’re talking about, artists do like two albums a year; he did “Pinups”, which was like a collection of his favorite cover songs and stuff.
BRAD: 1973 was a big year for women in rock– and I’m talking about rock, not pop. Fanny was a rock band, a full-on great rock and roll band that just never got their due.
BRAD: Susie Quattro was making records, Linda Ronstadt was breaking through. So you had some pretty significant female artists working in 1973 and releasing important records then as well.
ANDREW: And in one of my favorite albums of that year, Joni Mitchell recorded “Court And Spark” all through ’73, but it didn’t come out until January 1, ‘74. But it was like an amazing year for just women’s rights; you had Roe versus Wade then…
BRAD: Interesting, here we are, 50 years later, and that’s never been as hot a topic since then as it is today.
BRAD: You had bands like Grand Funk Railroad, which are kind of a, I don’t know, that wouldn’t say they’re forgotten, but they released “We’re an American Band”, which was their biggest record. They were a huge band in the early ‘70’s.
ANDREW: Which Rundgren, Todd Rundgren produced that one, right?
BRAD: Yeah, that’s another record that Todd worked on.
ANDREW: They were kind of the band, like, that Detroit had all these guys like the MC5 that were just a little too raw and punk or protopunk. But they were the ones that kind of, I mean, they were legitimate, they were real just guys from Flint, Michigan. They weren’t phony or whatever, but they just, for some reason, were a little less edgy and were able to play Shea Stadium, you know?
BRAD: Right. They were selling Beatles level tickets. They were huge. People forget how big Grand Funk Railroad was at the time.
BRAD: Let’s talk a little bit about the change in radio, which you mentioned up top. But that really is an important aspect of what was going on in the 70’s and really changed the whole business, the way music was marketed and everything becomes much more siloed by the end of the decade.
ANDREW: Yeah, at the time there was AM Top 40, which was actually very eclectic. They would play everybody from Beatles to Motown to like, Frank Sinatra and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree”, and then you had progressive FM where the DJs would play these 20-minute tracks, whatever they want. But a lot of the songs that seemed too long to be singles started compelling people to buy albums, like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. And these people started thinking about, well why don’t we combine playing the long, hard rock stuff that’s popular, but with formatted things where we tell the DJ what to play, and so… because there was a guy named Ron Jacobs, who was like a program director in, I think, Southern California, who they started sending people to supermarkets to do this demographic research on what albums did these young white kids want to hear? Because the advertisers wanted the young white kids, because, I guess, they blew the most money, whatever, right?
So, they really started trying to format everything to match that demographic. And there was a guy named Mike Harrison who started writing this column called “Album Oriented Rock” and this radio and records trade magazine. And so it really started coalescing into these tight playlists that the disc jockeys were told what to do, instead of having freedom to do whatever. But that format was very profitable and it kind of took off. But what was interesting was, like in 73, they had 27 number one hits on Billboard, and ten of them were by black artists. But by the end of the decade, the first years of the 80’s, they’d only had, like, two by black artists or three. Like, one year was just Lionel Richie and “Ebony and Ivory”. So, anybody who didn’t fit those demographics that the advertisers wanted to sell to the young white kids just kind of got closed out by the end of the decade.
BRAD: Yeah, that just got less and less and less as time went on, and things became way more formatted and segregated and you just didn’t mix. And so the Motown stuff just didn’t get played next to the rock acts anymore, which I think ultimately was just detrimental to the music in general.
ANDREW: Yeah, one thing that really started picking up steam in ‘73 was disco.
ANDREW: But in Manhattan, a lot of the clubs that would become the famous discos opened, and then, a lot of the singles that would become huge the following year, like “The Sound of Philadelphia” and “Rock the Boat” and “Rock Your Baby” and “Love’s Theme”, those all were released this year. For a while, disco was very much from the street and just responding to what the people loved in the clubs, and where all the races were mixing, and sexualities and all that. But then when it became huge, then that got like formatted by the end of the decade, ‘till they killed it, just they rode it to the ground.
BRAD: At the same time as you have disco making its first big moves, you also have the early seeds of punk. We already talked about New York Dolls, but a lot of that started around the same time, too, the first seeds of what would become punk. And you talk about that in the book.
ANDREW: Yeah, there are a lot of interesting things with punk, but just the New York Dolls aspect of it; the thing I love is that, in New York at that time, you had to play covers, you had to be a cover band, or else there was only a couple of places to play, like Max’s Kansas City, and then CBGB’s opened up at the end of ‘73, and there was this place in Queens called Coventry, which what I just love is that the New York Dolls were playing there, and the guys watching them were the guys from The Ramones and the guys from Kiss.
ANDREW: So it was interesting, the two kind of paths that the New York Dolls kind of birthed. You know, what was interesting about punk, too, that I love: punk and heavy metal, Like those concepts that, now that we look at music through were both really kind of pounded home through these rock journalists. Because journalists like Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs had been talking about punk in reference to these guys from the 60’s like The Seeds that maybe had one classic garage-band hit and then kind of never really broke through. And then Lenny Kaye, who became Patty Smith’s guitarist, was commissioned by Electra Records to do a compilation of all those kind of classic songs.
BRAD: Yeah, the “Nuggets” compilation album, which we’ve actually featured on this show recently. One of my favorite records. But I love that early protopunk garage rock psychedelic stuff. It’s great.
ANDREW: Yeah, it’s really interesting that Lester Banks in particular was really using the term punk, all the time. He had so many citations of that word in, like, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74. And then with heavy metal, there was a journalist called Mike Saunders who kind of seemed like he was noticing that Lester Bangs was really pounding this term punk into everybody’s head, and so he started pounding this term heavy metal, which William Burroughs used it in one of his books, and then it was “Born To Be Wild”, the song by Steppenwolf. But he just started referring to Sabbath and Zeppelin and everybody as heavy metal. So, it’s kind of like these journalists, it’s interesting seeing them form that year, because they would include bands that you wouldn’t think of any of those genres when they were using them, those days. But gradually those concepts started taking hold.
BRAD: Yeah. When these guys first talk about it, it’s fairly loose– you could describe Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad as heavy metal.
Speaker D: But of course, then that gets sort of corporatized, and then gets sliced even further to the point where you’ve got “death metal” and “black metal” and “hair metal”, and we slice the pie thinner and thinner, which is a pet peeve of mine; I hate it when we do that because I think it’s limiting.
ANDREW: Yeah, it’s weird because, on the one hand, when you’re a kid in the record store, some of those labels are helpfu,l because you go to the heavy metal section or the punk section. And then when you tune into radio stations, just a heavy metal radio station or whatever, but it just calcifies, I guess, and, like you say, starts segregating and getting too dogmatic or something.
BRAD: Right, right. Some of the other cultural things or things going on in the culture outside of the music, but, of course, affecting the music: You’ve got the end of the Vietnam War.
ANDREW: Yeah, Vietnam ended. The last Vietnam soldier came home, or left Vietnam, on March 29. And there’s that famous picture of, uh, the “burst of joy” photo of that lieutenant coming home and his little kids are running toward him on the runway. And, it’s funny, there were a lot of, kind of deep cuts going on that were still referencing Vietnam, like “Search and Destroy” on the Stooges album.
ANDREW: New York Dolls had the song “Vietnamese Baby” and Funkadelic had this tune “March to the Witch’s Castle” about soldiers coming home and becoming junkies.
ANDREW: “Back to the world”, Curtis Mayfield had it. So there was a lot of reflection of Vietnam going on in the culture. And then before Nixon could really benefit from that, I guess, Watergate really took off.
BRAD: Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s another big political event. I’m not aware of that many songs about Watergate, but I think it just sort of put the exclamation point at the end of a lot of people’s feelings about politics and the government and whatnot.
ANDREW: It’s funny, too, that year, speaking of having hearings and all that stuff, tying it in today with the hearings about January 6 and Trump and all that; that year was like a formative year for Trump, because the Department of Justice brought a suit against him and his father, Fred Trump, because they were one of the biggest developers and landlords in New York, and they were not letting African Americans be in their apartments. And so the Department of Justice brought this huge suit against them, which landed on the front page of The New York Times and was kind of like a bellwether case. And Donald Trump actually went out and he found Roy Cohn, who was McCarthy’s right hand man. Cohn gave him a lot of his techniques that Trump would perfect, like never admit anything, just double down. If someone attacks you, attack them back. And they never admitted to the racism or discrimination, but they eventually settled, but they never admitted to it or whatever.
BRAD: The gay liberation movement kind of starts around this time, too.
ANDREW: Well, you had both the political events and then you had the musical events that kind of encouraged people fighting for gay rights. But that year, in December, the American Psychiatric Association finally voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which today that sounds absurd. And then Lance Loud was kind of the first out for personality on the, it was like the first reality show, right?
BRAD: The Loud family. I forget the name of the show.
ANDREW: The American family.
BRAD: That’s right. American family.
ANDREW: And Rocky Horror started performing in London that year. So it was definitely a great year for all those elements. And then Glam Rock in general was peaking with, we had Sweet with “Ballroom Blitz”. And T-Rex was really, he had “20th Century Boy” going. And Roxy Music. That was a big year for Roxy Music, because Eno left the band that year.
BRAD: An interesting thing that was going on in the wider political or economic conditions that directly affected the music business was the oil crisis. Because, of course, it takes oil to make plastics to press records, and that had a big impact.
ANDREW: Yeah, the vinyl shortage really, I think, kicked off in ‘74 because OPEC happened. I mean, oil embargo happened in ’73, but really took hold. And I guess the albums became a lot thinner and breakable more and they uh, put the industry into a recession at 74.
Speaker D: I remember specifically, I think it was RCA Records, but I remember there was one of the record labels that came up with a new name for their records, like “Flexi Something”, and you’d take the records out of the sleeve and they would practically flop over, they were so thin, and they were so prone to getting warped, to becoming warped, because they were pressing them as thin as they could possibly press them to save money. But it produced a lot of pretty poor records.
ANDREW: And the other big influence with the oil crisis was it kind of sparked the moment that incoming inequality started to expand again. Because since World War II, middle class workers and the corporate managers and CEOs, their incomes were coming closer together. I think they called it the “great compression”. And middle-class workers had this kind of stunning rise in their standard of living. But then ‘73 was the year that, when you compare average hourly earnings, when you factor in inflation, it peaked that year and it started going down. And so that was really a pivotal year where, for middle class people; we kind of started going backwards a little bit.
And there was another movement we didn’t really touch on too much yet, but Country really had a lot of interesting effects, in kind of these three movements, where you had like the “outlaw country” movement. Then you had “country rock” and then you had “southern rock”. I guess we touched on them a little bit.
BRAD: Well, yeah, we didn’t really talk about Country, but kind of the center of Country music was always held pretty tight in Nashville, but this is where you start to see what they call the “Bakersville Sound”, coming out of California, and Southern Rock, Country Rock. But yeah, talk a little bit about some of that.
ANDREW: Well, it’s interesting. I don’t know how much Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, who were like the main “outlaw country” guys, Kris Kristofferson. But Kristofferson was kind of in his own world, where he was partly influenced by Dylan and he was working in Nashville and Country, but he kind of went to his own rules and had a lot of rock influence. And Willie Nelson and Waylon liked that; they really started putting up a fight to do things their way, and just have their touring bands play on their actual albums, and then produce it how they wanted and write what they wanted. And they really finally broke through and took control, and they started releasing the outlaw country classic albums.
ANDREW: And Country rock, you’re talking about the western Bakersfield the thing, you had the folk music guys in LA, who were very influenced by the Bakersfield sound’ and so you had like the Eagles and it was funny– they too, had their own struggles, because Glen Frey and Don Henley, they started writing stuff that was mellow, like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” that year. But Glenn Frey had come from Detroit, where he had been sort of in Bob Seeger’s scene, and he wanted to bring more of his rock stuff to it. But, ironically, their producer, Glyn Johns, produced them and he, of course, was like the rock producer extraordinaire of like, The Who and Zeppelin and the Beatles. But he told them, “you guys can’t rock– trust me, I’ve been with Zeppelin and The Who. You guys can’t rock.” And he was trying to keep them in that mellow zone. So they finally broke with him. And even Linda Rodstadt, she was very close with the Eagles, and she, actually Neil Young brought her on tour with him to open for him. And it was kind of a baptism of fire for her, because all these kind of rock guys would throw stuff at her, but she just had to yell back at them. And she wanted to be a bit more rocky, too, but they kept trying to pigeonhole her. It’s always these label people, who are very concerned with pigeonholing people into the demographic they think can sell, and so they get uptight about them trying to go outside their lines and stuff.
BRAD: There was also the continued rise of the singer-songwriter movement. Acts coming out of Laurel Canyon and whatnot, right?
ANDREW: And kind of centered down the road from Laurel Canyon on Santa Monica Boulevard at the Troubadour Club, there were so many people working there that year that were great. You had Tom Waits, who kind of positioned himself as like the anti- smooth, slick, country rock troubadour person. And Billy Joel. I don’t know if it was his debut album, but the “Piano Man” album, it was about his whole trek, because he used to be in a two-man band with another guy, but then he fell in love with the guy’s wife, and then she went with Billy and became his wife for most of the 70’s. He did this album, “Piano Man”, which was almost, I wouldn’t call it a concept album, but has so many great forgotten Billy Joel songs. And it’s about his trip across the west to Los Angeles, where then he was playing the Troubadour and then the Piano Bar there. And Jim Croce was one of my favorites, he had, I think, two albums that year, and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was like the second-biggest hit of the year. And then he had, of course, the plane crash on September 20.
Bob Seeger, he did all these great albums that didn’t ever really break through until he had “Night Moves” a couple of years later.
ANDREW: You know, Zeppelin just had a big year with “Houses of the Holy”. It didn’t have the monumental anthem like “Stairway to Heaven” on it, you know, sometimes people don’t put it up there with Zeppelin’s greatest stuff.
BRAD: No, but it’s got “The Rain Song”, which is an amazing piece of music; it’s got “No Quarter”, which is one of their best songs; “Song Remains The Same”, which is a Zeppelin classic… I mean, it’s a weird sounding record, the production on that has always seemed weird to me, but yeah, it’s a stone cold classic. No doubt.
ANDREW: The other great thing that was amazing– this is another thing where you can argue that it was ‘73, but Neil Young recorded “Tonight’s The Night”, even though it wasn’t released for a couple of years later. And that was pretty much done live in the studio, super raw. That’s considered one of his best albums.
BRAD: Yeah. And it is raw, both recording wise and just emotionally. It’s very raw.
ANDREW: Yeah. Two of his, I think, like a band member from Crazy Horse and a Roadie had both OD’d.
BRAD: Yeah, right. Both victims of drug addiction and overdose. Yeah, recorded in ’73, didn’t come out ‘till ‘74. But I’ll allow it.
BRAD: We talked about the beginnings of disco, the beginnings of punk; another thing that was gestating at this time was the earliest sounds of hip-hop.
ANDREW: Right, yeah. There was a guy in the Bronx, this DJ Cool Herc, he made his debut in August as a DJ at a party that was in the rec room of the apartment he lived at in the Bronx, on Sedwick Avenue. His family was from Jamaica. And in Jamaica, they had this tradition where the DJs would get these big trucks and these big sound systems, and they would blast the music out, like thousands of people would pay to come listen to the DJs play, and they would start doing their own “toasting”, they called it, on top of them, where they would do their little raps over the instrumental versions. And so, all that was kind of in the back of DJ Cool Herc’s mind. And they started his first show at his sister’s plate, or at his sister’s party in the apartment. But then, I think it was the following year, that he started doing block parties where they would plug in stuff into the lamp posts in the parks, and they would start playing and they would start using a lot of the instrumental disco tracks and the funk tracks that were big in this year. And they would focus in on the beats. And eventually, that was the genre that would take over from Rock as the best-selling genre. I mean, it’s still strong in the indie level, but on a cultural mega level, it’s definitely receded.
BRAD: For better or worse, Rock does not have the stature, I guess, or the commercial appeal that it did back when we were youngsters. But if I was to put the best spin on it, I would say that’s really where Rock is best– when it’s got some rebellion to it, when it’s on the outside looking in, rather than being the “in thing”, at least for the integrity of the music, for whatever that’s worth. But no, you don’t get hit rock records today. The day of rock topping the charts is over, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing for the music.
Speaker E: I did a book on the year 1965…
Speaker D: I read that book and that inspired me to do an episode of my show on 1965. So that, and your book was a source material for that. So, of course, when came time to do 1973, you were the go-to guy. Um, that book is great.
ANDREW: Thank you. And then my publishers actually came to me with the idea for ‘73. And when I looked at ‘73, I was kind of stunned with just the quality of so much music. Just like how it explodes out in every direction. It’s just a very amorphous year, but I think that’s what makes it fascinating because it’s almost hard to wrap your brain around that year. It’s just such a crazy year.
BRAD: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, any year that brought you “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Houses of the Holy”, “Quadrophenia”, “Let’s Get It On”, “Band on the Run”; that saw the first elements of punk and disco and hip-hop and reggae… It’s absolutely a significant year for rock, and more than just rock.
ANDREW: And you even have techno, like, Kraftwork was this year– they ditched the live drums and they just started focusing on drum machines. Yeah, that’s even starting up this year.
BRAD: Yeah. Incredible.
BRAD: Yeah. Well, Andrew Grant Jackson, thank you so much for coming on the show. I love the “1965” book, I love “1973 – Rock at the Crossroads”. I highly recommend both of those books to anyone listening to the show. Check them out, they’re fascinating reads. And I thank you for coming on the show and doing this with me. Thank you so much, Andrew.
ANDREW: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
BRAD: Thanks a lot.
And thank you for listening to my conversation with Andrew Grant Jackson. And there’s even more music from 1973 that we didn’t touch on. If you’d like to dig deeper into 1973, a great place to start is Andrew’s Facebook page for the book. It’s at facebook.com/1973book. There’s even a link there to a playlist of songs from 1973 that you can listen to. And of course, there’s the book itself, which I highly recommend. It’s called “1973 – Rock at the crossroads”. And Andrew is also the author of the fantastic book on 1965, that book is called “1965 – The Most Revolutionary Year In Music”, as well as a few other books. I’ll put some links in the show notes for all of his books.
I will be back in about two weeks with another new episode. You can catch up on all of our previous shows on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com. Please leave a review or send us feedback.
And if you’d like to support the show, the best thing you can do is to tell a friend about us because your personal recommendations are worth more than any advertising.
I’ll meet you back here next time on the “I’m in Love With That Song” podcast.