The year 1975 was the beginning of the second half of the 70s decade, and the times they were a-changing. It was the year that saw the birth of the microcomputer (the Altair 8800), which would lead to the personal computer, and then the internet and eventually to this blog post.
Wheel of Fortune premiered on NBC television, as well as the first episode of Saturday Night Live. The Superdome opened in New Orleans as did Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, Florida. Peter Gabriel left Genesis, the Talking Heads made their debut at CBGB, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened on Broadway. There were also a few future music artists born that year including Fergie, 50 Cent, Lil’ Kim, Michael Buble, Jack Johnson, Enrique Iglesias, Lauren Hill and Andre 3000.
The love songs of 1975 included tunes from artists making their first Top 40 appearances like Minnie Riperton, Styx and Natalie Cole, as well as familiar names like Frankie Valli, Neil Sedaka and Joe Cocker to name a few.
“You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” by Barry White
Disco love!! Each verse drips with syrupy soul love in this Barry White hit that entered the Top 40 in late 1974 peaking at #2 on the Pop Top 40 in early 1975. Remarkably, “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” was written as a Country song in 1953, and went unrecorded for 21 years.
“Laughter In The Rain” by Neil Sedaka
“Laughter In The Rain” is a story song, as Neil Sedaka sings of a walk in the rain with the girl he loves. This was the second of three #1 Top 40 hits for the prolific singer/songwriter/arranger Neil Sedaka. Although this number made its first appearance on the charts in November of 1974, it remained on the charts for 15 weeks taking it well into 1975.
“Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk
First appearing in the Top 40 in late December of 1974, “Some Kind Of Wonderful” is the hardest rocking love song of 1975 on this list. Everything about this rocker screams love, while, other than the Disco tunes on this list, is one of the most danceable Rock love songs of the 1970s. Grand Funk rode the railroad all the way to #3 with this great 1975 love song.
“Lady” by Styx
“Lady” was the first song ever written by Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung (written for his wife), and the first Top 40 hit for the band Styx. It reached #6 on the charts in early 1975, and its popular title is not to be confused with “Lady” by The Little River Band, Kenny Rogers, or The Commodores (same title, completely different songs) just to name a few.
“You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker
His highest chart hit to date, “You Are So Beautiful” is an undeniable classic, and although it never utters the word “love”, it succeeds at establishing its heartfelt sentiment in less than three minutes. Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” rose to #5 on the Billboard Top 40 charts in 1975, and is still a popular tune at weddings today.
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
Whether because of the chirping birds, or the high pitched voice of Minnie Riperton, this is unquestionably one of the most recognized love songs of the 70s era (and perhaps most cliché and parodied). Nevertheless, it is one of my favorites, and an a.m. radio hit that topped the charts at #1. Sadly, it would be the only chart hit for Riperton, who would die of cancer four years later.
“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris
This 1975 love song was a one hit wonder and the only solo chart hit for Major Harris, former member of the R&B group The Delfonics. It rose to the #5 position on the Top 40 charts, and went certified gold in the summer of 1975. The female moaning makes this tender track a bit steamy, but its love sentiment remains undeniable.
“Swearin’ To God” by Frankie Valli
Part Disco, part Rock, and all love. This was a solo hit for Frankie Valli, front man for the famed 60s New Jersey group The 4 Seasons. “Swearin’ To God” is a pseudo-duet featuring Patti Austin singing a response in the bridge of the song. This silly love song got all the way to #6 in 1975.
“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor
In 1964, Marvin Gaye took this tune to #6 on the Pop Top 40, and eleven years later, it would be James Taylor who one-upped Marvin’s version, taking this catchy Pop classic to #5. This version also includes Carly Simon on accompanying vocals and David Sanborn on Saxophone, and – as always – shows off Taylor’s unique blue-eyed soul style.
“Dance With Me” by Orleans
The title of this love song is a metaphor for love, and uses variations of that metaphor throughout. From references of “I want to be your partner” and “the music is just starting”, to “let it lift you off the ground”. The “dance” represents the romance in this, the first Top 40 hit for the 70s Soft Rock group Orleans, which reached the #6 position in 1975.
“Who Loves You” by The Four Seasons
Somewhat of a rhetorical question, “Who Loves You” was the first 4 Seasons Top 40 chart hit in eight years, making it a tremendous comeback hit reaching #3 on the Pop Top 40. The song’s “I’ll be there for you come rain or shine” theme is nothing new, but this fresh take on the concept by this 60s Doo Wop group is a refreshing foot-tapping Disco-esq love song.
“This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole
This soulful love song is the first Pop Top 40 appearance for Natalie Cole, daughter of Nat “King” Cole (making her music royalty). Repeating the word “love” more times than I can count, the title says it all. “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love” stalled at #6 on the Pop charts, but could and should have gone farther. Almost timeless, it is used still today in movies and television, and is a wedding classic.
All of the love songs on this list were arranged in order of their appearance on the Billboard Pop Top 40 charts. All have been carefully listened to again and again to be certain they sang of true love. No heartache, no done-me-wrong, and no jealousy exists in any lyric or line, making them some of the best love songs of 1975.
Love the love…
Post Script: It was with great sadness that I had to omit the song “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille from this list, but it seemed the subject of the love in the lyrics had a bit too much of a roaming eye for other women.
Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 [Pop] Hits and The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B Hits by Joel Whitburn and Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits by Fred Bronson.