Many listeners consider the ’70s to be the pinnacle of soul music’s genre. The 70’s decade was marked by political upheaval all over the globe, but also by a surge of innovative work as artists took charge of their own careers and found fresh ways to address social and romantic concerns. We must say, the resulting music is absolutely beautiful to listen to and immediately brings emotions of happiness, love and romance.
In honor of the first day of Black Music Month, here is a countdown of the 70’s top 10 soul tracks. We’re crossing our fingers that it’s to your satisfaction! Black love music owes a great deal to these pioneering musicians!
1. Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On
“What’s Going On” is a song by Marvin Gaye, released in 1971 as the title track of his eleventh studio album. It is considered one of the greatest and most influential soul songs in history. The song was written by Marvin Gaye, Al Cleveland, and Renaldo Benson, who was a member of the Four Tops.
The song was inspired by Gaye’s own observations of the world around him, including the Vietnam War, racial injustice, and the environmental crisis. It reflects the social and political unrest of the early 1970s in the United States and the desire for peace, understanding, and unity.
2. Al Green-Let’s Stay Together
“Let’s Stay Together” has served as a source of inspiration for countless artists. Its smooth and romantic style has influenced the genre and helped shape the sound of contemporary R&B music today. The song’s impact can be heard in the works of artists like D’Angelo, Maxwell, and John Legend, who have drawn from Al Green’s soulful style.
3. Marvin Gaye-Let’s Get it On
“Let’s Get It On” challenged societal norms and pushed boundaries, especially with its explicit lyrics. However, it also played a significant role in breaking down barriers and opening up conversations about sexuality and desire in popular music. The song became a cultural touchstone and an anthem for passionate love.
4. The Temptations- Just My Imagination
“Just My Imagination” is a beloved classic and has become one of The Temptations’ signature songs. It has been covered by numerous artists over the years, further solidifying its place in black culture. The song’s timeless appeal and emotional resonance have made it a staple on radio playlists.
5. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – If You Don’t Know Me By Now
6. Billy Paul – Me and Mrs. Jones
“Me and Mrs. Jones” has had a lasting impact on the music industry and has influenced generations of artists. The storytelling approach, beautiful vocals, and soulful sound have inspired artists across various genres. The song’s influence can be heard in the works of artists such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, and John Legend, who have drawn inspiration from Billy Paul’s unique style and narrative-driven approach.
7. Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me
The lyrics in this Marvin Gaye classic focuses on environmental and social issues. Marvin Gaye truly created musical innovations, cultural relevance, and paved an enduring legacy. This iconic song highlights the intersection of art, activism, and the black experience. It continues to inspire and resonate with audiences, reminding us of the importance of environmental stewardship and social justice.
8. The Delfonics – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
This heartfelt song was about love and was song with so much passion and harmonization. It is regarded as one of the most romantic sounds of the decade. Rest in peace, Mr . Hart!
9. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
“Shaft” by Isaac Hayes changed the film and music industry. He, became the first Black man to win a music Oscar for his title song. His his two-LP soundtrack album ensured that every Black action-adventure film for the years ahead would be scored by a significant musician of color.
10. Gladys Knight and The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia
“Gladys Knight and The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia” is a powerful anthem of hope, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams. Its representation of the African American experience and its enduring popularity has made an impact music history.