Delve into the 25 most mind-bending, beguiling, or downright beautiful ’70s songs to kick back and light up too. Purple haze, Jesus saves.
As society nervously shifted towards a new decade, the times they were a-changin’. The counterculture was at its zenith, drugs were becoming more wildly accessible, and sexuality was being explored in new and exciting ways. That’s not to mention the exquisite originality and implacable power of those ’70s songs that stand the test of time.
Thus we implore you to light up a joint and harken back to the 25 best ’70s songs to get high to.
25. Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman, No Cry
Looking back on the poverty and disenfranchisement of his time in Trench Town, Jamaica, Bob Marley was at his lilting, lyrical best with No Woman, No Cry.
Marley implores people to dry their tears and have faith that things will get better, as he once did to his girlfriend.
24. Genesis – Firth Of Fifth
One of the crowning glories of Genesis’ wildly inventive live sets. Tony Banks’ classically-inclined piano enters the fray, drawing you into their complex time signatures and melancholy duelling between Peter Gabriel’s flute and Steve Hackett’s guitar ‘violining’.
Genesis are one of the most ingenious bands of all time and unquestionably one of the best to get high to.
23. Television – Marquee Moon
A 10-minute single? It was positively unheard of in the punk scene. However, the spellbinding guitar interplay between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd made Marquee Moon the incredible single that it was. Television were visionaries – there is no doubt about it.
The thoughtful composition and frail vocals have seen Marquee Moon referred to as one of the greatest guitar albums of all time – and honestly, we have to agree.
22. Neil Young – Heart Of Gold
Initially criticised by Bob Dylan for sounding too much like him, Heart Of Gold remains a glistening gem for the singer/songwriter genre.
This immaculate confluence of country rock and quivering vocals perfectly embodies the undying essence of Neil Young.
21. Curtis Mayfield – Get On Up
After departing from The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield dropped his debut, yearning to find a distinguished voice of his own.
Get On Up wound up spending 10 weeks at in the Top 50 of the UK Charts and was the soundtrack for a generation. Not bad for a nine-minute single.
20. Jefferson Starship – St. Charles
After Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner went on to form sci-fi funk supergroup, Jefferson Starship, and Spitfire was where they really hit their stride.
St. Charles is a compelling confluence of ’60s rock on the dawn of funk, and will certainly leave you reeling from the blow.
19. Bob Dylan – Tangled Up In Blue
Bob Dylan was in a veritable slump during the early 1970s. Afraid of being another ’60s washout, exhausted from relentless touring, and recovering from a serious dose of food poisoning, Dylan hit back hard in 1976 with Blood On The Tracks.
Every song on this album is just sublime, but opener Tangled Up In Blue is where it’s at.
18. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Queen’s operatic sensation, Bohemian Rhapsody, is and always will be one of the most iconic tunes ever written. Freddie Mercury‘s crystal-clear vision and magnificent vocals perfectly reflect his genius, shining proudly against the mountainous triumph of all ’70s songs.
17. James Brown – Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
Rarely has a song that’s written about sex been as sexy itself. It’s positively throbbing with vibe and pulsating with the unmistakable essence of James Brown.
Light up, get down, and feel the funk.
16. Deep Purple – Speed King
Charging down the sonic highway, Deep Purple were progenitors to heavy metal amidst the rock revolution of the 1970s. The immaculate guitar work of Ritchie Blackmore and vocals from David Coverdale make Speed King an undeniable staple of rock greatness.
15. Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Simply one of the best songs every written, Bernie Taupin was at his most inspired with Elton John at his effortless best.
Opening up their 1971 triumph Madman Across The Water, there is something undeniably magical about Tiny Dancer that has never quite been replicated since.
14. Black Sabbath – War Pigs
When Black Sabbath unveiled themselves to the world in 1970, it’s safe to say they scared a lot of folks. The world wasn’t ready for Sabbath and War Pigs says it all; pounding drums, political contention, and one hell of a solo from Tony Iommi.
13. Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side
Lou Reed’s only solo hit was a ballad for all the freaks and outsiders out there. Hence why it’s the perfect laid back tune to light up with on a lazy Sunday morning.
Featuring Reed’s dead-pan wit and 10-ton boredom, no other song better encapsulates his effortless genius than Walk On The Wild Side.
12. David Bowie – Life On Mars
Life On Mars embodies everything we love about David Bowie; his sci-fi exploration, catchy hooks, and memorable songcraft.
Just before the world was introduced to Ziggymania, Bowie laid bare his interstellar questioning and eternal power as an artist.
11. Pink Floyd – Echoes
A monolithic construction, Echoes is undoubtedly one of the greatest songs to get high to, full stop. This 23-minute rabbit hole is essentially four different songs sewn together by expert surgeons.
The perfect transitional encapsulation of Pink Floyd moving from their avant-garde roots to their psychedelic conceptual masterworks, Echoes is a must.
10. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
While Byrne decided to leave all imagery of the murder out of Psycho Killer, it’s still pretty graphic, and assuredly one of the best ’70s songs ever written.
9. Derek and the Dominos – Layla
After John Mayall and The Yardbirds. After Cream and Blind Faith. After Dirty Mac and the Plastic Ono Band, Eric Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos for one trail-blazing, shit-hot album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Inspired by Clapton’s undying love for George Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd, the emotion is erupting from every note and every word.
Trivia note: in the studio version, Duane Allman joins Clapton for an iconic double solo between Gibson and Fender.
8. Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi
As Joni Mitchell looked out over the Hawaiian scenery, all she saw was concrete and despair. Yet for all the bleakness of the lyrics and theme, the chords are surprisingly warm and optimistic.
Lord knows how Joni must feel now.
7. John Lennon – Imagine
Powerful, poetic, and political. Everything that embodied John Lennon was so effortlessly captured in Imagine.
Arguably the greatest protest song ever written, Imagine hits the nail so squarely on the head as to pin Lennon to the history books for all eternity.
6. Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Circular chords, poignant lyrics, and aimed like a knife straight at Lindsey Buckingham’s heart, Stevie Nicks wrote Dreams in the next room of the studio they were recording Rumours in, with Sly Stone.
An absolute masterpiece of songcraft that’s bound to turn on the waterworks when you’re feeling it, this Fleetwood Mac tune is a testament to their timelessness.
5. Grateful Dead – The Other One
If you’ve ever wondered why the Grateful Dead have a cult following, The Other One will prove it. Recorded live in 1971, The Other One is an epic, improvised jam inspired by Beat icon Neal Cassidy.
Jerry Garcia’s playing is a wonder to behold, and if you’re high, this 18-minute epic is guaranteed to blow your mind.
4. Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
Arguably the greatest rock anthem of all time, Led Zeppelin constructed a true masterpiece on their fourth album – and they knew it.
Even people who hate rock know Stairway To Heaven, all the way through to its rapturous solo and thundering climax.
3. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
One of the most controversial songs in rock history, it’s hard to pin down exactly what Brown Sugar is about. Sex, slavery, heroin… who knows?
What is known though is the groove is hot and this tune is as quintessentially Rolling Stones as a tumbling rock that gathers no moss.
2. The Doors – Riders On The Storm
Just shy of jam rock, The Doors were masters of crafting longer tracks that appeared free form but were actually incredibly well-built. From Jim Morrison’s acid poetry to Ray Manzarek’s trickling piano rain, it’s all here in spades.
“Send them out to Arizona for some good thunder,” said Morrison during take number 9. Thus, one of the greatest songs of the ’70s was born.
1. Pink Floyd – Time
A quintessential song of the ages, Pink Floyd’s Time is eternal. Thematically and sonically, there is not a note out of place, and it’s just enough on the obscure side of commercial to put it in the best of both worlds.
One of the best songs from one of the best albums of all time, both are exceptional experiences in their own right.