In 1975, Bruce Springsteen released “Born to Run.” Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night” may go down as his best full album ever, and it also hit store shelves that year. Bob Dylan put out two albums, including the all-time classic “Blood on the Tracks.” The Band, Bob Marley, The Who … there was an abundance of riches available to music fans 40 years ago.
It was into that murderer’s row of records that Patti Smith sent “Horses.” The debut album from one of the leaders of New York City’s art punk scene became one of the most critically-adored of the year, and it still is cited by musicians as the reason they’ve picked up a guitar or put pen to paper to write lyrics.
But like many of the acts above, Smith speaks in full albums, rather than singles. There were no official releases of any of the eight tracks on “Horses,” in a year when ditties like “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” were topping the charts. Obviously, “Horses” holds its own today. But did the songs that made up the singles chart, which can sometimes reward the more ephemeral, survive changing American tastes?
We took a look at songs that reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 to see which, if any, still hold up today. Did they pass or fail the test of time?
It’s maybe best known as the song from that Burger King commercial, sung by Maya Rudolph’s mom, but the range of Riperton’s voice and the simple-but-elegant construction of the track have made it timeless. Bonus: On the album version, Riperton can be heard singing baby Maya’s name. PASSED
‘Have You Never Been Mellow’
It’s not that the title track from the “Grease” star’s 1975 album is bad, per se, but the music itself hasn’t aged well. It sounds like a karaoke song version of a ’70s folk ballad; she had yet to find her “Physical” side, clearly. FAILED
Any song that’s been covered by both Radiohead (in bootlegs) and David Hasselhoff has probably held up pretty well. But amazingly, unlike a track like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” no one’s topped the original, still. PASSED
A surprising bit of foresight from the songwriter, as he penned a track about his rivalry with a yet-to-be-born Katy Perry … wait. Is this different? FAILED
Earth, Wind and Fire
If you put Bruno Mars on lead vocals on this, it would still go platinum today. “Star” was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007. PASSED
If you go: Patti Smith performs “Horses” on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, 212-465-6500, sold out.