7 Popular ’70s Songs That Take Us Right Back to a Groovier Time


Written by:

Songs can be time machines. Music unlocks memory in a major way, and the right ones can really take us back. From The Bee Gees to Marvin Gaye, join us on a nostalgia trip through the mega-hits of the ’70s.

Image Credit: 7 Popular ’70s Songs That Take Us Back by (None).

1. ‘What’s Going On’

Released: 1971

Marvin Gaye had a lot to say with “What’s Going On,” a song off a concept album written about the Vietnam War. Between Gaye’s pleas for peace and commentary about the war, the 70s are very much alive in this song.

Image Credit: Marvin Gaye by Los Angeles Times (CC BY).

2. ‘Hotel California’

Released: 1976

C’mon, picture it. As soon as you saw “Hotel and “California” next to each other, you imagined yourself on a dark desert highway, cool wind in your hair. If there’s any band more emblematic of the idea of a desert highway, I’d be surprised. Plus, that 10-year-long guitar solo is a nostalgia trip in and of itself.

Image Credit: Eagles performing in 2008 by Steve Alexander (CC BY-SA).

3. ‘I Will Survive’

Released: 1978

What an anthem for empowerment, resilience, and overcoming adversity. Gloria Gaynor will be eternal for this one. Just try not to think about the Cake cover.

Image Credit: Gloria Gaynor by Thomas Rodenbücher (CC BY).

4. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Released: 1975

Even today, few songs are as absolutely insane as this one, which became a permanent part of pop culture the minute it arrived. This song doesn’t just take us back to the ’70s though; it also takes us back to 1992 when, in case anybody forgot about Queen, “Wayne’s World” was there to launch them back into pop culture in an entirely new way. 

Image Credit: Freddie Mercury by (CC BY-SA).

5. ‘September’

Released: 1978

That infectious rhythm. Those pumping horns. Close your eyes listening to this, and you’ll find yourself in a nightclub in 1978 … but it’s no less of a mega-jam today.

Image Credit: Earth Wind & Fire by Chris Hakkens (None).

6. ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Released: 1971

Beloved by rock journalists and annoying guys in guitar shops alike, “Stairway to Heaven” is one of those songs a lot of people will say is the best rock and roll song of all time. The progression from gentle acoustic to the big rock crescendo is iconic as can be, and brings us back to a time when Led Zeppelin was the most exciting thing happening in music.

Image Credit: Jimmy Page by Heinrich Klaffs (CC BY-NC-SA).

7. ‘Stayin’ Alive’

Released: 1977

You could argue no song encapsulates the ’70s more than this Bee Gees mega-hit. Those pulsing beats and infamous falsettos are legendary, and they make most people think of disco immediately. Some think of “Saturday Night Fever.” If you’re me, you think of “Airplane.” Whatever you associate with this song, it’s all sort of the same thing: This is the ’70s, baby.

Image Credit: Bee Gees in 1976 by Caribb (CC BY-NC-ND).