Most of us baby boomers think back to the 70s as the decade of peace and love. After all, it was during that time that the Vietnam War ended, and America did not fight another until the 80s. Unlike the turbulent decade that preceded it, the 70s saw no major assassinations.
Not only was there peace in the 70s, but love as well. Married couples appeared all over television, especially in weekly variety shows. Sonny and Cher, the Captain and Tenille, and Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. were just a few of the love birds to host their own shows.
Perhaps the celebrity who best represented this era was singer Barry Manilow. He had numerous hits throughout the 70s, most of which were quiet, catchy, reflective love songs. He sang about writing the songs of love and special things, about Mandy, who came and gave without taking, and other songs that celebrated love.
Obviously peace and love dominated the era. Why then were so many of the popular songs about killing someone? Starting in 1970 all the way through 1979 the music charts usually contained songs about murder, prompting the question. Why does the decade of peace and love have such a violent soundtrack?
Ponder that question as you consider the ten best shooting songs of the 70s.
10. “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow: Rico probably acted in self-defense, Tony having charged at him in a jealous rage over Lola the showgirl. Nevertheless, it still seems somewhat surprising that the smooth-voiced icon of easy listening pop would sing a tune with all the violence.
9. “Renegade” by Styx: Guitarist Tommy Shaw penned this ballad from Pieces of Eight about a murderer who is being pursued by the law. The lyrics never actually say the renegade killed someone, but it was obviously serious enough that the “Hangman is coming down from the gallows.”
8. “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton: The rock Hall of Famer scored his biggest hit from 461 Ocean Boulevard with this cover of the Bob Marley song.
7. “Dark Lady” by Cher: The shooter in this tune about the fatal fallout of a love triangle is a woman. She shoots the dark lady and her own adulterous husband.
6. “Run Joey Run” by David Geddes: A father strongly disapproves of her daughter’s boyfriend Joey. He aims for the young man, but his daughter ends up getting the bullet.
5. “Heartbreaker” by The Rolling Stones: In this track from Goatshead Soup, the New York City police are the ones who do the shooting. The first verse even points out that it was “a case of mistaken identity.”
4. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence: Before she became the star of “Mama’s Family” Lawrence recorded this hit about an unjust murder conviction in the Peach State.
3. “Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor: All the lyrics indicate about the shooting victim is that he deserved to die because of some of the things he said. The killer, who has been seeking sympathy from his audience throughout the song, seems to surrender amid the sirens as the record fades out.
2. “Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan: One of the most popular albums of the decade, Blood on the Tracks, features several songs about murder. In this one, the man neither confesses nor denies having killed “a man named Gray and (taking) his wife to Italy.” The fact, though, is that after her death he got the million bucks she had inherited.
1.”Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen: One of the most recognizable songs of the 70s is one of the many highlights from A Night at the Opera. Freddie Mercury, who wrote the song, laments that he “just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger now he’s dead.”