Aaron Parnell Brown on why 1971 was the Greatest Year in Music

We asked musician Aaron Parnell Brown to pick his favorite year in music.

Aaron is mainstay in the local soul scene, from his time in Aaron & The Spell to the release of his latest LP The Tin Man (recently announced to be on the 58th Grammy Awards ballot for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Album). Read his case for 1971 below and vote for your favorite year here. Brown will be on NPR’s Mountain Stage this Sunday with NRBQ, Nels Cline & Julian Lage, Christian Lopez Band and Eliza Gilkyson.


For me the best year in music has got to be 1971. Think about this…

November 27, 1970 (a month before 1971… )

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Isn’t It a Pity,” “I’d Have You Anytime,” and “Let It Down”
    • I think this album is the best solo Beatles album… by far!


February 10, 1971

Tapestry – Carol King

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “It’s Too Late,” “Beautiful,” “So Far Away”
    • Grammy for Album of the Year


April 2, 1971

Donny Hathaway – Donny Hathaway

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “A Song For You,” “Magnificent Sanctuary Band,” “She is My Lady”
    • A top three voice of all time. Also, a top notch arranger and song interpreter


April 12, 1971

Maybe Tomorrow – The Jackson 5

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Maybe Tomorrow”
    • This is actually a horrible album, but the song “Never Can Say Goodbye” by J5 is Undeniable. Absolutely Undeniable!


May 17, 1971

Ram – Paul McCartney

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Ram On,” “Smile Away”
    • The third best solo Beatle album and second best Paul McCartney album


May 21, 1971

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” “Wholy Holy”
    • The crown jewel of 1971 albums. From front to back this is a masterpiece!


May, 1971

Just as I Am – Bill Withers

  • In my opinion
      • The Classic Songs – “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” “Better Off Dead,” “Harlem”
      • Amazing songwriter and definitely a strong influence on my own music.


July 12, 1971

Maggot Brain – Funkadelic

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Can You Get to That,” “Hit It and Quit It,” “You and Your Folks,” “Me and My Folks”
    • One of the grittiest albums ever.


August 14, 1971

Al Green Gets Next to You – Al Green

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Tired of Being Alone,” “I’m a Ram,” “I Can’t Get Next to You”
    • An underrated album of great soul tunes


August 14, 1971

The Inner Mounting Flame – Mahavishnu Orchestra

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “A Lotus on Irish Streams,” “Dawn,” “Awakening”
    • This album made me a zombie the first time I heard it. For a month straight all I did was stare at the wall and listen to this album.


September 9, 1971

Imagine – John Lennon

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Jealous Guy,” “Imagine,” “How Do You Sleep?”
    • Not one of the best solo Beatle albums, but how can you miss with a song like “Jealous Guy?”


October, 1971

Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Wild Night,” “Tupelo Honey,” “Moonshine Whiskey”
    • Crazy awesome album that takes me to another place every time I listen to it (which is often)


November 6, 1971

The Stylistics – The Stylistics

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” “You Are Everything,” “People Make the World Go Round”
    • “People Make The World Go Round”…. Come on…


November 8, 1971

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog,” “When the Levee Breaks”
    • The greatest junior high slow dance song of all time


December 1, 1971

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – John Lennon and Yoko Ono

  • My third favorite Christmas song of all time


December 17, 1971

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

  • In my opinion
    • The Classic Songs – “Changes,” “Life on Mars?”
    • I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of this album overall, but “Changes” and “Life on Mars” are easily favorites of mine.


So…. I’m sure you thought about it, and probably agree, that 1971 IS the best year in music.



Category: 70s


Article by: Julie Miller