To me, the 1970s is the canon. Because it’s the decade where I became a music lover as a way of defining who I was, but — until the very end — was mostly about catching up with the past, it feels different from the 1960s (ancient Boomer history) or the 1980s (when I was fully immersed).
So unlike my previous lists for the 1980s, 1990s and (especially) the 2000s, maybe I hold some of this music in awe, because it already existed and was just sitting out there for me to discover. And discover I did. When I was 14-15, a central focus of my life was riding my bike to Tower Records and spending $15 on two records — Love Gun and Foghat Live; Rocket to Russia and Marquee Moon; Who’s next and Aqualung — and listening to those records over and over and over and over. Oh, and over.
Good ones, bad ones, it didn’t matter. It was all about figuring out what I liked, and by extension, who I was. Or maybe the other way around. It was sitting in my room and determining that I loved Quadrophenia but not Tales From Topographic Oceans or that I loved Close to the Edge but not Who Are You.
Then, in 1978 (a year too late) (but still too early for Fresno): punk rock. I’d been resisting — it just seemed like fashion-oriented noise nonsense — but spurred on by that first Cars album and Creem magazine, I took the plunge. Ramones. Television. The Jam. The Clash. Talking Heads. The Sex Pistols. And a host of lesser new wave and power pop and whathaveyou bands. The world was changing, I was on the ground floor, and it was thrilling.