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The Top 10 Most Popular Songs of 1970 in the Viet Nam War Era -- Whale Song to Hard Rock

Updated on December 6, 2014
President Richard Nixon admires Elvis Presley's cufflinks on December 21, 1970.
President Richard Nixon admires Elvis Presley's cufflinks on December 21, 1970.

1970: The Year of the Whale

This year of the Viet Nam War was exceedingly interesting for music in that all kinds of heretofore unimaginable things to Americans were used to create it. Whale song was first recorded in 1970, leading researchers in the next couple of decades to discover that Humpback Whales had learned the tune of Amazing Grace (information broadcast on the Paul Harvey Show, TVChannel 10 in Columbus, and 610 WBNS.

Whale song also prompted the ST:TOS 1986 film The Voyage Home. Two whales, George and Gracie, saved the world of the 23rd Century in that one, with help from Scottie and the Captain. Not only environmentally relevant, Voyage Homeis the funniest of the Trek Film Saga. Parts of it (Spock learning to use colorful language) are parodied in the sci-fi film comedy Paul.

Songs of a Humpback Whale changed minds about whales. Underwater microphones were used by Mr. Frank Watlington in Bermuda to prove that whales communicate with their own language, but also with music. This recording was chosen by the US Library of Congress as Number 20 on the list of 25 Recordings to be Preserved in 2010. All 25 music and spoken word recordings join the National Recording Registry as historic recordings.

Humpback Whale, song made famous in 1970.
Humpback Whale, song made famous in 1970. | Source
Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

In this drama with much humor added, humpback whales are extinct in the 2500's AD, but an alien watchdog group wants to talk to them. Time travel is the only answer to stop world destruction by bringing back George and Gracey Whale from 1986. This is the only film that I can watch every day without tiring of it.


Number One Billboard Top 100 Hit

Simon and Garfunkle, Central Park Concert 1981


American Woman

Period Drama and Music - Good Morning Viet Nam!

The Billboard Top 100

The Viet Nam War began in 1940 with France, picked up the USA about 1964 and continued to 1975. That's a long time for an undeclared war. Part of it was fought with blaring Rock Music after American troops refused to listen to any more classical. The VC didn't like Rock and Americans were ready for some rockin' sounds (depicted in Good Morning Viet Nam). 

  1. Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head by B. J. Thomas, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Song by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hall David. This one became #85 on the Billboard Hot 100 All Time Hits list.
  2. I'll Be There by The Jackson Five. This is the lead song on the Five's Third Album. A ballad to change things up from bubblegum pop and still uplifting.
  3. I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family. This TV family headed by Shirley Jones and David Cassidy recorded the song and aired it withy the TV series beginning in 1970.
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
  5. Close to You by The Carpenters
  6. My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
  7. War by Edwin Starr. Word on the Internet is that The Temptations recorded this song first, felt it would hurt their careers, and passed it on to Mr. Starr, who made it a hit, with three weeks in the Number One spot at Billboard. It has been covered many times and was featured in an episode about a copyright proceedings trial on Boston Legal.
  8. American Woman by Canadians, the Guess Who. The woman in the song was the Statue of Liberty and this was a protest song against the Vietnam War protest. But as Harlan Ellison has written in the 1970s, censorship was rampant. President Richard Nixon's First Lady, Pat, asked the group not to perform it at the White House. Vice President Spiro Agnew was an enforcer for TV censorship according to Mr. Ellison in his 1970s books and columns, especially against depicting the rising drug use in America that killed some of Harlan's friends.
  9. Let It Be by The Beatles
  10. I Want You Back by The Jackson Five, solo by Michael Jackson. My favorite cover of this song is done by Cheryl Crow, from the Winter 2011 Motown Tribute concert at the White House.

"I Want You Back" -- White House Motown Tribute 2011

Spirit In the Sky

Ride, Captain, Ride

Additional Favorites from the Billboard Top 100

  • Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - #11.
  • Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross - #14
  • Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum - #19
  • Fire and Rain - James Taylor - #26
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours - Stevie wonder - #41
  • Ride, Captain, Ride - Blues Image #49
  • Don't Cry Daddy - Elvis Presley - #59
  • Travel 'In Band and flipside Who'll Stop the Rain - Credance Clearwater Revival - #67
  • Psychedelic Shack - The Temptations - #71
  • Evil Ways - Sanatana - #81
  • Don't Play That Song - Aretha Franklin - #93. Ms. Franklin's father was a renowned Detroit minister and his sermon on the Crucifixion is also among the 25 Recordings Preserved in 2010 at the Library of Congress.


Psyhcedelic Shack on ED Sullivan Show, 1970

Best of Temptations Christmas
Best of Temptations Christmas

An album of 12 Christmas standards chosen from the two albums recorded in 1970.



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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 23 months ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      More about whale song: The Smithsonian has a 2015 article stating that Paul Knapp Jr. recorded whale song in 1992 and found melodies very similar to Gregorian Chants. Research is ongoing.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I cannot believe sometimes that it was all so long ago. Thanks for all the comments!

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

      These songs will be remembered by most. MJ and the 5 were really just making their mark in the world. Well done, v/r.

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 6 years ago

      Mercy me..oh yes, I remember them well!

      The song "Shambala" by Daniel Moore is one I used to sing in the shower back in the day. Thanks for the trip back in time. I enjoyed the ride!

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      Great music, great era. I wish we could go back.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Most of those songs are my favorite songs. Thanks for share with us. You always remind us about beautiful memories. Song like a soul for me. I also enjoy the video above. Well done, Patty. My vote always for you. Have a nice weekend.

      Love and peace,

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I was happy to have found the videos. Late-night TV infomercials only have short blurbs about them.

      1970 seems to be a landmark year in political and social issues!

    • profile image

      David99999 6 years ago

      Bravo, Patty! My favorites of these are, "War," "Spirit in the Sky," "I Think I Love You." The 1970's were my decade (Yes, I'm old). In a very real sense, present-day American social philosophy was born in that decade (not the '60's, as some believe). Great hub!:)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Patty, it's funny but I can remember every one of these songs. I haven't heard them in years but I can still hear the music in my head. It's amazing how we can remember music so well and forget so many other things. Great job.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Great choices :)

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 6 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Great list here. I remember these songs well, and was singing them out loud back then. :)

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      Very interesting! I had no idea American Woman was actually about the Statue of Liberty. These songs bring so much emotion...they bring back strong memories of the times, both good and oh, so sad.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Patty, WOW what a hub full of great songs, boy did that bring back some memories, we sure did have some great music back then . Thanks enjoyed the time travel !

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • chukseasy profile image

      chukseasy 6 years ago

      back in the olden days. dear you are great! thanks a million

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

      Brings back a lot of memories. Most of these I heard for the first time when I was in the Military. I have heard them many times since, they became part of who I am. The music probably did more to increase my English vocabulary than anything else.

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

      I love "Ride Captain Ride " by Blues Image. And the Jackson Five were part od my childhood. You really brought back some great memories. Thanks Patty.

    • rogerbeta profile image

      rogerbeta 6 years ago from Thrakomakedones

      Thanks for the memories, I still have all my cassettes tapes with all of these songs. We lost a lot of friends in the War, we should not forget them.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      My goodness, I haven't heard some of these in years! I will have to finish the hub I'm working on about 60s protest songs :D They would be good companion pieces :D:D Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Since I was a young adult at this time I remember these songs well and it was a walk down memory lane. Thanks for bringing back these songs for the memories.

    • profile image

      angie ashbourne 6 years ago

      Hi! Patty Excellent ... I love the song: Spirit in the Sky Angie

    • mquee profile image

      mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Nice, a unique look at the music of that era.Many of these songs bring back old memories. Thanks for sharing.