The Saturday List this week features some of my favourite songs from 1970s musicals. And let me tell you: while I thought that last week’s list about 1960s was tough, this one was even more difficult to compile! As with the list for the 1960s musicals, I’ve only allowed myself to select one song from any given musical for the list to allow a more even spread – otherwise, it might be completely possible that this list could be composed of songs from Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd! But first, how about some honourable mentions, in no particular order: there’s “I Got Love” from Purlie (inseparable from a tour de force introduction into the show tunes catalogue by Melba Moore), the brilliant “Over at the Frankenstein Place” and “Dammit Janet” from The Rocky Horror Show; “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin, Home from “The Wiz”, “Buenos Aires” and “Rainbow High” from Evita, “Could We Start Again Please?” and “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar, “I Still Believe in Love” and “Fallin'” from They’re Playing Our Song and “All Good Gifts” from Godspell. And now for the my ten favourite songs of the decade.
10. “Those Magic Changes” from Grease
Others might cite songs like “Summer Nights” or “Greased Lightnin'” when it comes to naming a song from Grease for a list like this. Personally, I am so tired of hearing those songs at every wedding or dance I attend in the ubiquitous “Grease Megamix”, that there is no way they were going to make this list. My choice is “Those Magic Changes”, a beautiful and bittersweet little song about romance, nostalgia and music itself. Just thinking about the song stirs memories of old crushes, past relationships, my days at university and the Carpenters. It’s the kind of song that makes you smile even about the sad things that have happened in your past.
9. “NYC” from Annie
Like many folks my age, I experienced Annie on film before I saw it on stage. In fact, my first experience of the stage version of Annie was when I was in it, in 1997, which is when I eventually made the effort to get the cast album. Imagine how cheated I felt having realised that I had been subjected to “Let’s Go to the Movies” for all those years, when “NYC” was waiting in the score for me to discover it all along. I love “NYC”. For me, it captures what I think New York might have been like during the 1930s. And it’s a far better song than “Let’s Go to the Movies”. I was very gratified to see it restored in the TV film in 1999, with the original Annie belting out the Star-to-Be solo. Fabulous.
8. “Look What Happened to Mabel” from Mack and Mabel
Mack and Mabel is famous for being a show with a fabulous score and an unworkable book. I’m not going into a long discussion about the book now, but the score is fabulous and this song is one of my favourites. I first saw it on The Royal Variety Performance in a medley promoting the 1995 London production starring Howard McGillin as Mack and Caroline O’Connor as Mabel. Jumping Saint Jude, it’s a catchy number. I know now that I’ve been thinking about it, I’ll be singing it all day long.