How Many of These ’70s Songs Can You Name From Just the First Line?


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It’s 2024, which means we’ve been listening to music from the ’70s for roughly 50 years. With that kind of history, it’s unsurprising that many of the lyrics to that era’s popular songs are burned into our memories.

 Of course, knowing some of the lyrics to a song is no guarantee that you can name its title. In fact, when you read the first line of some of that decade’s more popular songs, the melody and the artist may spring to mind, but the title may elude you.

 Test your acumen by reading the first line of the songs we’ve chosen and see if you can remember the title. And no, referring to them as, “That song by that person that goes ‘something something something’” doesn’t count.

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1. ‘We Can Never Know ..’

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Answer: ‘Anticipation’ by Carly Simon (1971)

“Anticipation” was the first single released from the Carly Simon album of the same name. It was one of the biggest hits of her career and was even used for several years in Heinz ketchup commercials to denote its molasses-slow journey from the upturned bottle to the top of your hamburger patty. She said she had no problem whatsoever with the use of the song in the commercials, and since she likely cleaned up with all of the royalty payments, we believe her.

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2. ‘It’s Not In the Way…’

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Answer: ‘Hold the Line’ by Toto (1978)

Toto has had a long string of hits during their career, and they started strong with “Hold the Line” from their self-titled debut album. It’s a very, very catchy tune, a testament to their hitmaking prowess, and further proof that they were capable of a lot more than 1982’s “Africa.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that song, mind you.

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3. ‘Hey Kids…’

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Answer: ‘Bennie and the Jets’ by Elton John (1973)

“Bennie and the Jets” was on Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album from 1973, which had several hit songs that are still favorites. The fact that the album featured not only “Bennie and the Jets” but also “Candle in the Wind,” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” and the title track is a testament to what the partnership of Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin was capable of producing when they were firing on all cylinders.

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4. ‘To Seek the Sacred River Alph…’

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Answer: ‘Xanadu’ by Rush (1977)

If you’re unfamiliar with the works of 19th-century poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, there’s no need to read any of his stuff. Instead, listen to the 1977 Rush song “Xanadu,” an adaptation of the poem “Kubla Khan” that gives you the story’s elevator pitch in a tidy eleven minutes. The first five of those minutes are all instrumental, so skip to the 5:00 mark on the song if you’re pressed for time and just want a plot synopsis.

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5. ‘At First I Was Afraid…’


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Answer: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (1978)

If you don’t know this classic disco song, you haven’t done much living. It’s a perennial favorite of anyone breaking up with a significant other or getting divorced, and if you’ve successfully weathered those kinds of life events, we suggest blasting this song so all the neighbors can hear it and shrieking along with the lyrics as loud as possible. It won’t make your former spouse move back in, but you won’t mind so much that they’re gone.

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6. ‘Where Are Those Happy Days…’

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Answer: ‘S.O.S.’ by ABBA (1975)

Sweden’s ABBA was best known for chirpy pop songs like “Waterloo” and “Take a Chance on Me,” but they could also get very tragic when they wanted to. One such instance was the 1975 song “S.O.S.,” a breakup song with despondence to spare and a lead vocal that sounds like Agnetha Fältskog is going to have a complete nervous breakdown right there in the vocal booth.  


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7. ‘Finished With My Woman…’


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Answer: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath (1970)

Clocking in at less than three minutes, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” is an utterly simple three-chord basher that announced Ozzy Osbourne and co. to the world. Considered one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, it created the template for the genre and inspired millions of teenagers to pick up guitars. Countless emulators have since covered the song, and while none of them beat the original, Type O Negative’s version from 1994 is depressively hilarious.

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8. ‘Loving You Isn’t the Right Thing to Do…’

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Answer: “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac (1976)

“Go Your Own Way” appears on the 1977 Fleetwood Mac album “Rumours,” but it was released as a single in 1976 ahead of the album. For those not in the know, four of the five members of Fleetwood Mac at the time were two romantic couples on the outs with one another, and that situation helped inform the writing and recording of the song. Slightly off-topic, but ABBA also consisted of two couples on life support, and they were massively successful, like Fleetwood Mac, so if you’re short on cash, consider starting a soft rock band with your ex-wife.

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9. ‘I Heard He Sang a Good Song,…’

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Answer: ‘Killing Me Softly with His Song’ by Roberta Flack (1973)

Technically speaking, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” is not a Roberta Flack tune since she didn’t write it. That honor belongs to Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel, and one Lori Lieberman, who said in 2020 that she never received proper credit for co-writing the song. She did, however, record the first version of it in 1972, and when singer Roberta Flack heard it, she immediately set about recording it. Her version came out in 1973 and became a massive hit, as it did again in 1996 when the Fugees recorded it. It was also recorded by Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, and Luther Vandross. While controversy may rage forever about who deserves credit for writing it, there’s no disputing that Flack’s version is the definitive one.

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10. ‘What’ll You Do…’

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Answer: ‘Layla’ by Derek and the Dominos (1970)

In 1970, guitarist Eric Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos, a new project featuring Duane Allman. Their only album, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs,” was a double LP full of songs about Clapton’s unrequited love for his best friend George Harrison’s wife, Patti Boyd, and “Layla” was the album’s most flagrant example of Clapton making a play for his best friend’s wife. Clapton succeeded in becoming Boyd’s new man, but sadly, their union was even shorter than that of Boyd and Harrison. Maybe he should have left well enough alone?

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11. ‘Here We Are…’

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Answer: ‘Nights on Broadway’ by Bee Gees (1975)

A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that the Bee Gees were a ’70s disco group, but that’s only part of their story. They were closer to the latter-day Beatles throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s and produced some truly awe-inspiring work. Sadly, by the mid-1970s, the public stopped buying their records, so they revamped their sound to incorporate elements of the R&B music that they were all enjoying. 1975’s “Nights on Broadway” was among their first attempts at dance music, and without getting too editorial, it’s one of the best things they ever recorded. It’s on their “Main Course” album, which is brilliant from top to bottom, and you should listen to it immediately.

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12. ‘Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear…’

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Answer: ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ by the Carpenters (1970)

This song was written by the legendary songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and several artists recorded it before the Carpenters got their hands on it. The earliest version was recorded in 1963 by actor Richard Chamberlain and twice in 1964 when Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield recorded it. However, the 1970 rendition by the Carpenters became a hit, and it remains beloved today despite being featured prominently in the traumatic trouser zipper scene at the beginning of “There’s Something About Mary.”

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13. ‘Seek Him Here…’

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Answer: “Hell Bent for Leather” by Judas Priest (1978)

The legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest is so heavily identified with 80s metal that it’s easy to forget they released their first several albums in the 1970s. The title track from 1978’s “Hell Bent for Leather” LP, it features all the Judas Priest trademarks that fans have come to rely upon, such as the twin lead guitars of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, and the impossibly high voice of lead singer and leather daddy Rob Halford.

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14. ‘Once I Had a Love …’

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Answer: “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (1979)

Blondie started in New York City’s punk rock clubs, but they became world-famous in short order. 1979’s “Heart of Glass” was initially written with a reggae feel, but it wasn’t until producer Mike Chapman suggested a disco arrangement that it really took off. While fans of Blondie’s earlier music never forgave them for “going disco,” it hit number one on the US Billboard chart and remains one of their best-known songs.


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15. ‘I’ve Paid My dues …’

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Answer: ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen (1977)

At no point in the 1977 Queen song “We Are the Champions” does lead singer extraordinaire Freddie Mercury divulge exactly what he and his bandmates are the champions of, but it doesn’t matter one bit. The song is the perfect capstone to any personal triumph, whether it’s winning the World Series, mowing the lawn, or potty-training a toddler. The next time you emerge victorious from a protected battle with a clogged sink, consider celebrating by singing this song.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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