1976. The Bicentennial year for the United States, celebrating two hundred years of independence from Britain. Halfway through the 1970’s, it was an election year, with then Republican President, Gerald Ford, running against former Georgia governor, Democrat, Jimmy Carter. Carter won the election.
The number one movie of the year was Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone. Classic rock and roll music could be heard on FM radio stations across America.
Disco music was, unfortunately, becoming popular while punk music was just beginning with bands like the Sex Pistols, and the Ramones leading the way.
Here are eleven great rock songs (no disco) with commentary and sample lyrics from the year 1976.
Beth – Kiss
Written and sung by Kiss drummer Peter Criss, Beth was the biggest hit for theatrical rock group Kiss. The song was originally released as a B side to Detroit Rock City.
Other popular Kiss songs include Rock and Roll All Nite, Christine Sixteen, Lick It Up, and Love Gun.
Lyric: ‘…just a few more hours and I’ll be right home to you, I think I hear them calling, but Beth what can I do…’
Blinded By the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Manfred Mann, popular for his sixties hits Doh Wah Diddy Diddy, and Quinn The Eskimo, scored a number one song in America with this Bruce Springsteen song.
Springsteen’s original lyric, ‘cut loose like a deuce’, has often been misinterpreted.
Other Springsteen songs include Spirit in the Night, Mary Queen of Arkansas, The E Street Shuffle, She’s the One, and The Promised Land.
Lyric; ‘…and little Early Pearly came in by her curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride…’
The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy was a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The lead singer was Phil Lynott.
The biggest hit for Thin Lizzy was The Boys Are Back in Town from the album, Jailbreak. Other famous pop musicians from Ireland include U2, Van Morrison, Hothouse Flowers, and The Boomtown Rats.
Lyric: ‘…you know that chick that used to dance a lot, every night she’d be on the floor shaking what’s she’s got…’
Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
An eclectic rock band that used violins as part of their music, Kansas had a number one song in America with Carry On Wayward Son. The band featured Steve Walsh on vocals and Kerry Livgren on guitar. Other great Kansas songs include Dust in the Wind, Song For America, Point of Know Return, and Mysteries and Mayhem.
Lyric: ‘…and if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know…’
Year of the Cat – Al Stewart
Year of the Cat was a top ten hit for Scottish born composer, Al Stewart. The album of the same name features great songs including On the Border, Broadway Hotel, Lord Grenville, and (If it doesn’t come naturally) Leave It.
Lyric: ‘…and the morning comes and you’re still with her, and the bus and the tourists are gone…”
Let ‘Em In – Wings
Paul McCartney’s 70’s band, Wings, released the album Wings At The Speed Of Sound in 1976. The album peaked at number one in the U.S. for seven weeks during the summer. Other great songs from the album include Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, Time To Hide, and Warm and Beautiful.
Lyric: ‘…someone’s knocking at the door, somebody’s ringing a bell, do me a favor, open the door and let ’em in…’
Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
This haunting song was written and sung by Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood Mac had much success in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s. Other great Fleetwood Mac songs include Tusk, Over My Head, Landslide, Don’t Stop, Dreams, Hold Me, and Little Lies.
Lyric: ‘…would you stay if she promised you heaven, will you ever win?…’
Crazy On You – Heart
Heart burst on to the rock scene in 1976 with their first album, Dreamboat Annie. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, from Seattle, Washington, rocked their way to the top of the charts and had success with many top hits. Their newest release is entitled, Red Velvet Car. Other top Heart songs include, Magic Man, Barracuda, Kick It Out, These Dreams, What About Love, and Dog and Butterfly.
Lyric: ‘…wild man’s world is crying in pain, what you gonna do when everybody’s insane…’
Turn the Page – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Longtime Michigan rocker Bob Seger hit the big time on FM rock radio with his double live album smash, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – Live Bullet. Considered one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, Live Bullet, featured a collection of hard rocking songs guaranteed to set your speakers on fire. Other Bob Seger songs include Old Time Rock and Roll, Mainstreet, Katmandu, Night Moves, Heavy Music, and We’ve Got Tonight.
Lyric: ‘…there I go, playing star again, there I go, turn the page…’
Foreplay/Long Time – Boston
One of the top debut selling albums by a band, Boston, released their self titled album to a generation of Americans first discovering the power of rock and roll. The first part of the song, Foreplay, is instrumental, conveying the album art cover of their album, a spaceship shaped guitar, with the skyline of Boston as its’ source of power. Long Time, the second half of this epic rock song, displays the urgency of time, as related to rock music. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is located in Boston, Massachusetts.
Lyric: ‘…I’ve got to keep on chasing that dream, though I may never find it…’
Baby, I Love Your Way – Peter Frampton
Any look at music from 1976 is complete with the songs of Peter Frampton. Frampton’s historic live album, Frampton Comes Alive, was the epitome of rock and roll. Frampton’s live show was the must see event of the year, and his songs from the album were played on FM rock radio for many years later. Other great Frampton songs include I’m In You, Do You Feel Like We Do, I Wanna Go to the Sun, Wind of Change, Doobie Wah, and Thank You Mr. Churchill.
Lyric: ‘…oh baby I love your way, everyday, wanna tell you I love your way…’
Well, there you go. Eleven great rock songs from a few years back. Now find them online at your favorite music downloading service. Take a listen, download, and the music will be yours to listen to all day. Once you hear and discover these songs, you’ll want more and more. Peace!