The 1970s, Sally Field, the Bandit, and Me

Normally, I listen to some strictly instrumental background music while writing. Today, however, I feel like country music, so I have Jerry Reed serenading me. Maybe next I’ll turn to some Glen Campbell, or Roger Miller. You see, I love the country from the 1950s-70s. There are some contemporary country artists I like, but I’ll save them for another post.

In 1977, every boy my age loved two things: the Trans-Am Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit, and Sally Field in the same movie. I must admit, though, that I wanted my Trans-Am to be orange. I even had a Trans-Am model I’d put together and painted bright orange, with the Firebird decal on the hood of course. I could see myself driving that beautiful 70s muscle car around town, even though I was still too young to drive. In the seat next to me would be Valerie Bertinelli. I was sure she’d love me if she ever met me. (Sally Field was already taken by Burt Reynolds, and I was pretty sure he could beat me up.)

In some ways, I consider myself a product of the 1980s, because that was a very good decade overall for me. But in reality, I am a 70s child. That decade was my period of growing up. It takes very little to put me into a nostalgic 70s mood. And if you think That 70s Show captured it in any way, you are wrong. Its presentation of the 70s was probably about as accurate as the 1950s as portrayed in Happy Days. I know; I was there.

I sometimes play a game with myself, trying to pick my favorite decade of music. The 1920s had a lot of fun stuff, including Paul Whiteman and some early jazz. The 1930s had all the great Depression-era movie music. The 30s & 40s gave us much of what has become enshrined as The Great American Songbook. And I could make arguments for other decades as well.

It always comes back to the same conclusion, however. If the rules can be bent just a smidge, I’d chose to split a decade. My favorite 10-year period of music would be 1975-85. I would get punk, disco, New Wave, No Wave, synthpop, and a lot of great jazz. For a great book that covers the first part of this period, check out Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes.