Turning Music Into Gold
As we head into 2021 wishing 2020 a strong Adios, I started thinking about past years in our history. For some reason, 1979 stuck into my brain. After some research, I realized 1979 was a significant year in not just music but in politics and world news. This was when we were actually getting the truth and not powder puffing what the media wanted us to see and hear.
Music – 1979
People tell me I can’t have but one favorite song. I say they’re wrong. Here are my favorites that have lasted the test of time, which, according to my Humanities classes, are considered “artifacts.”
“Gold” by John Stewart with back up singers Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham; “Message in a Bottle” by The Police; “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge; “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Supertramp; “Lonesome Loser” by Little River Band; “Heartache Tonight” by The Eagles; “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd; Roxy Music; Elvis Costello; Robert Palmer; Kenny Rogers; ABBA; Kiss; Journey; Cars; Michael Jackson; Donna Summer. And these are just a few!
The number one song in 1979 was “My Sharona;” number two was “Bad Girls.” Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou” was the favorite Country song, and the favorite Disco Male Artist was Isaac Hayes.
If you haven’t heard any of these songs, I’m sorry. Might I suggest asking Alexa to play them for you? While you’re listening to these tunes, please continue to read.
Elton John became the first pop star to sing live in Israel. And later that year, while performing in L.A., he passed out due to the flu on stage.
Little Richard quit rock & roll for religious pursuit. Charlie Daniels Band released “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Sony introduced the Walkman, the first popular portable cassette player. At the time, it was the best invention for anyone who loved music. Making cassette tapes from songs on the radio and being able to play them back… genius.
Chuck Berry was sentenced to four months for $200,000 in tax evasion. This was when the IRS could seize your property and your bank accounts. Today, too many politicians and “reverends” are getting away with tax evasion. It may still be a crime, but it’s not taken as seriously as it once was in our country.
The film Quadrophenia, loosely based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera of the same name, was released.
RKO radio network began operation. Fleetwood Mac got a star in Hollywood. Bob Dylan appeared on Saturday Night Live.
Guinness Book of Records presented Paul McCartney with a rhodium disc as an all-time best-selling singer-songwriter.
Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released and sold 6 million copies in 2 weeks.
Eleven people were trampled to death at The Who concert in Cincinnati.
The rock group, Emerson, Lake & Palmer broke up.
Winterland Rock Concert Hall in San Francisco closed after 556 concerts. If those walls could talk!
Happenings throughout the world:
Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after 15 years in exile, the 78-year‐old symbol of the Iran revolution. He changed the country from pro-western to the three “pillars” of a mandatory veil (hijab) for women, and opposition to the United States and Israel. A rapidly modernizing capitalist economy was replaced by a populist and Islamic economy and culture. Many people fled Iran and came to the U.S. under asylum. Sounds like what is happening right here in our country today; see how easy that was?
Patricia Hearst was released from prison for bank robbery. On February 4, 1974, at the age of 19, Hearst was taken hostage by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, who aimed to garner a hefty ransom from her wealthy father. She told prosecutors she was raped and threatened with death if she didn’t cooperate with them. Holding a semi-automatic weapon, she accompanied the SLA on a bank robbery. She was found guilty in 1978 and served one year in prison for being an accomplice.
All in the Family aired its 200th episode. It reached 204 episodes before it went off the air. Safe to say, 1979 was the last year All in the Family aired new shows. Back in 1979, AITF wasn’t considered racist but comedy. Today it would be regarded as racist and not a comedy.
U.S. Voyager I photo revealed Jupiter’s rings.
The City of Los Angeles passed its first homosexual rights bill, and Steven Lachs was appointed as California’s first openly gay judge. The first Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. was attended by over 100,000 people. Today, the NYC Pride March in New York City is consistently North America’s biggest pride parade, with 2.1 million attendees in 2015 and 2.5 million in 2016; in 2018, around two million. You’ve come a long way, baby.
HIV wasn’t discovered until the 80s, but today, even though we don’t have a cure, some medicines can control the disease and promises a longer life span to those who have it. Globally, 38 million were living with HIV in 2019, and 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2019. If masks work for stopping the spread of Covid, condoms aren’t doing a good job in flattening the curve of HIV.
John Paul II became the first pope to visit a communist country, Poland.
The Sioux nation received $100 million in compensation for Black Hills, South Dakota.
The Supreme Court ruled employers may use quotas to help minorities. This was and still is a huge accomplishment. Affirmative action has allowed many minority communities to obtain jobs they are qualified for and ensure equal opportunity to many where there was none.
San Diego Chicken was reborn at Jack Murphy Stadium. I bring this up because I was friends with Ted G, who was and still is the San Diego Chicken, a mascot who is famous to anyone who lives in San Diego.
Moonraker, the 11th James Bond film starring Roger Moore, premiered in London. My favorite James Bond of all time will always be Sean Connery. May he rest in peace.
The longest doubles ping-pong match ended after 101 hours. I can barely play the game for an hour, can you imagine?
Susan B. Anthony dollar was issued, 1st U.S. coin to honor a woman. It was about time too! But then she was blamed for looking too much like a quarter. Can we ever win?
Premier/Pres al-Bakr of Iraq was succeeded by Saddam Hussein. A month after taking office, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein executed 22 political opponents. This was one man I was glad to see go. He was the devil in disguise and proved it not long after taking office.
Iranian press censors started massive book burnings. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini demanded Saint War against Kurds. Iran’s army conquered Mahabad, Baneh, and Piranshahr. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered mass executions to stop. The Ayatollah was Hitler reincarnate. And who said we don’t come back from the dead?
Monty Python’s Life of Brian was directed by Terry Jones, starring Graham Chapman and John Cleese premieres. One of the funniest movies still popular today.
The first recorded occurrence of a comet hitting the sun released energy equal to one million hydrogen bombs. Doomsday was predicted by those who liked to predict doom. It was the end of the world, but alas, we are still here.
L.A. Court ordered Clayton Moore to stop wearing the Lone Ranger mask. And today, we’re all mandated to wear a mask. Funny how things change in forty-one years.
Jerry Lewis’s 14th Muscular Dystrophy telethon raised $30,000,000.
Russia, China, France, Israel, and the U.S. tested nuclear bombs. The No Nukes Concert at Madison Square Garden included Springsteen & Crosby, Stills & Nash, and The Who. Jane Fonda and 200,000 others attended an anti-nuke rally in Battery Park, NYC; not so much for the cause, but for the great tunes and good pot.
Howard Stern began broadcasting on WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut.
The U.S. returned Canal Zone (but not the canal) to Panama after 75 years.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was when people who deserved the Nobel Peace Prize got the award.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating the Department of Education.
Voluntary Euthanasia Society published a how-to-do-it suicide guide.
Richard Arrington, Jr. was elected the first African American mayor in Birmingham, Alabama.
U.S. Federal government proposed making a $1.5 billion loan to Chrysler. And we’re still bailing them out forty-one years later.
Studio 54’s owners were arrested for tax evasion—a popular dance place in NYC, where anyone who was someone could be seen. Of course, they had to be making millions, so they were investigated. “Too much coke and too much smoke.” And yet, Al Sharpton is still walking around free.
500 Iranian students loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking over 60 hostages for 444 days. The immediate cause of this action was President Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow Iran’s deposed Shah, who had been expelled from his country some months before, to come to the United States for cancer treatment. The students set their hostages free on January 21, 1981, 444 days after the crisis began and just hours after President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address. The Democrats have long suspected Reagan’s campaign of negotiating a release to ensure Carter did not get a second term.
U.S. President Carter announced a halt to Iranian oil imports and froze Iranian assets. This caused a major gas shortage here in the U.S. People waited in line for hours. Prices were at an all-time high.
Iran described the United States as “The Great Satan” amid accusations of imperialism and the sponsoring of corruption.
There was a false alarm of a Soviet ballistic missile attack by the US NORAD system after the technician failed to code a test properly. I wonder if he was fired like the technician who did the same thing over Hawaii?
A package from the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski began smoking in the cargo hold of a flight from Chicago to Washington, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing.
Iran canceled all contracts with U.S. oil companies.
Salem’s Lot, the American two-part miniseries based on the horror novel of the same name by Stephen King, premiered in the United States.
The U.S. admitted that troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a powerful herbicide. The U.S. military used it to defoliate swaths of land in Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea. Highly toxic to anyone who came in proximity to it, the effects of Agent Orange can take years to appear. Currently, the list of health conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure includes the following:
A.L. amyloidosis, Leukemia, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Ischemic Heart Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Type II, Parkinson’s Disease, Respiratory Cancer (e.g., bronchus cancer, larynx cancer, lung cancer, trachea cancer), Prostate Cancer, Soft Tissue Sarcoma, Multiple Myeloma.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the first movie of the series, premiered directed by Robert Wise and starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Chris Haney and Scott Abbott developed the board game Trivial Pursuit.
1979 was a rough year. It was not as wild as 2020, but how do you compare a pandemic year to what we consider a “normal” year around the world? Between the wars, the takeovers, the nuclear testing, the hostages, the terror attacks… hey, just a part of the history I grew up in. I was 22 in 1979 and was raising a baby daughter on my own. As a single mom, I didn’t have many liberties, but I survived. I was afraid for my baby daughter and the type of world she would be growing up into. I can surmise it turned out worse than I ever had dreamed.
It’s fun looking back to see how far we have come as a society, as a country, as a people. To say I have a good 20 years left in me means I won’t be around in 40, let alone 41 years. It will be up to my kids and grandkids to look back and say, “look how far we’ve come since the year the world stood still.”
Hopefully, people will still be turning music into gold. It may be the only thing to save the soul.