The 70s in Youtube Clips


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I remember the 1970s.  I remember the latter moon landings; the Beatles fresh from their break-up; the birth and death of disco; the birth and death of true punk rock, post-punk and new wave; the end of the Vietnam War; the Watergate hearings (which I just thought were a boring TV show that would pre-empt The Flintstones); the true arrival of colour television; Star Wars and the original Battlestar Galactica; Farah Fawcett; Donnie & Marie; Michael Jackson back when he was still Black; a time when a celluloid interracial kiss would have never made it past the film board; the Cold War; East and West Berlin; a life before cell phones, email and almost universally affordable air travel; an ethic of bell-bottoms and polyester, hairspray and platform shoes —for men; Terry Fox; Carl Sagan; Isaac Asimov; Pierre Trudeau; Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

I hated the 70s while they were happening.  When the 80s came, with their space-age fashions, electric dance beats, celebration of the nerd, and a slow digital awakening to a global culture accessible through media and technology, I felt my salavation nearing.  I was a child of the 80s, and thus the cultural tropes of that era will always speak to me loudest.

Decades later, however, I have learned to marvel at the wonder that were the 1970s.  It was a time before the maturity (or denigration) of cultural industries.  Film, books and music were still celebrated for their innovation, not for their potential mass appeal.  Films like Taxi Driver and The Godfather could have only emerged from that decade.  Classic rock and the emergence of heavy metal, spawned from British anger and American suburban angst, and informed by the true cultural geist of the time –punk– remain today as the decade’s lasting imprint on our cultural undertones.

I wouldn’t want to go back for any prolonged time to the 70s, not to its smoke-filled revelry in overt racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.  A couple of pinpointed visits to key moments would be great; but most of my memories are of choking on car exhaust, cigarette smoke and cheap perfumes and hairspray.  But I do celebrate the decade now.

And in that spirit, I’ve located four clips on Youtube that, for me, exemplify the era.  Here they are:

(1) Neil Young live at Massey Hall

(2) Evel  Knievel jumps the Snake River Canyon

(3) Todd Rungren performs “Hello It’s Me”

(4) The greatest TV intro of all time… The Six Million Dollar Man

(No embedding allowed for this video)