Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll
And drift away
Dobie Gray didn’t write Drift Away, Mentor Williams wrote it. But Dobie made it an international hit. The right mix of sing along, stirring lyrics and his silky soulful voice made it magical. I go about with life, forgetting about a song like this for a time, and then hear it on the radio or shuffled on a playlist of songs and it washes over me all over again, bringing me back to the first memories of hearing it. Dobie’s version was released in 1973, by all measures a very good year for music, with some of the greatest songs ever written released that year.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Big albums were released in 1973, including Dark Side of the Moon, Band on the Run, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Houses of the Holy and Quadrophenia. Individual songs were brilliant, but this was the peak era of albums, when the entire record was a work of art gift-wrapped in an album cover to cherish. Radio latched on to songs and made them hits, but the fans were eagerly listening to deep cuts on the best albums and finding gold.
The world itself was upside down in 1973, with Watergate beginning to boil up, the Paris Peace Agreement to get the United States out of Vietnam, inflation running amuck, and our parents dressing us in some crazy multicolor outfits. But hey, at least we had the music. And if you were a kid growing up in the early 70’s you were immersed in some of the greatest music ever created.
1973 was a stacked year in a string of stacked years for rock and roll. Scan the music released in any year from 1965 to 1975 and you can create a heck of a playlist. These were the golden years for rock ‘n’ roll, when each release, and each year, tried to raise the bar. Popular music tried to stay hip and part of the action, and sometimes a song would rise up and become that classic for the ages. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that popular doesn’t always equal good, and there were some really bad songs hitting the charts in each of those years too, but those tend to drift away, don’t they? As with life, we tend to remember the best things. Like great songs. You know a melody can move me…