Where have all the flowers gone?
Seriously. Where is the great music that we used to be privy to on that glorious 70s musical showcase, The Midnight Special?
Shrew and I were talking the other day about how groovy The Midnight Special performances were. Okay, we didn’t actually say groovy, but you get the point.
The Burt Sugarman produced variety show featured over 1,200 musical performances during it’s 10 year run. I spent many a Friday night waiting for Johnny Carson to wrap up to watch my favorites perform on my TV. Now, we only had three channels and NBC was spotty at best, but most late Friday nights it came in clear as a bell.
The Midnight Special debuted on August 19, 1972 with John Denver and the great Mama Cass Elliott, a couple of years before her death.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Another great performance from ’72, was the late, great Harry Chapin:
The Midnight Special wasn’t restricted only to folk music, but offered a cross-section of music of the day. A prime example, Cisco Kid by War:
Sugarman provided the mega famous:
Respect, Aretha Franklin
and the little known, yet fabulous:
No Matter What, Badfinger
From the oldies,
Runaway, Del Shannon
Maybelline, Chuck Berry
to cutting edge rock:
Time, 1980 Floor Show – Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Frankenstein, Edgar Winter Group
Some landmark performances:
Dancin’ Queen, ABBA
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’, Journey
To Love Somebody, The Bee Gees
Reelin’ in the Years, Steely Dan
Rubberband Man, The Spinners
You & Me, Rick James
Train Kept a Rollin’, Aerosmith, with an introduction from Little Richard
Point is The Midnight Special was all about music and exposing people to music. The mediums in those days were narrow. It was totally radio, a few concerts here and there and sporadic performances on Ed Sullivan, or a variety show. The scarceness of live performances caused built-in “demand”.
But you could always count on The Midnight Special to provide THE acts of the day each week. And while the ’70s had its challenges, the music was original, inspired and captivating. There was a real anticipation as to what the next Friday would bring.
The Midnight Special brought those live performances right into our living room on those Friday nights, long before the World Wide Web, 400 Cable Channels, MTV or iTunes. Back when life was a lot more simple and the music much more compelling.
Funny, but it seems that as technology has increased, the quality of popular music has decreased. Maybe it’s why I still get wistful on Friday nights…
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