Over the hill

By Matthew Sotlar

Before I wrote this, I had a terrible writer’s block. I could not — for the life of me — think of a topic to write about that wasn’t political. Then, I had a stroke of genius.

Picture this; I’m driving with the radio on, and I’m listening to a song by the second greatest band of all time, “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd. The DJ informed me that “The Dark Side of the Moon,” the band’s best-selling and greatest album to date, is somehow already 50 years old. That got me thinking, what else turns 50 this year?

Many new musical acts appeared on the scene in 1973. Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bruce Springsteen all released their debut albums, all of which I have listened to. But that’s still not enough, I wanted to know, what else were people rockin’ to back in ‘73?

Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” a testament to glam rock and singer-songwriters, is officially over the hill. Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” is also celebrating a birthday. The Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” still preaches the “pompatus” of love 50 years on.

Along with the aforementioned, Aerosmith, Tom Waits and ABBA dropped their first albums 50 years ago. Initially, their albums were overlooked both critically and commercially, but now I don’t think I’ve been to a wedding where they weren’t playing the dreaded “Dancing Queen.” Isn’t it funny how life works out?

That’s just music, but what about movies? Well, Martin Scorscese’s “Mean Streets” hit the streets Oct. 14, 1973.

William Peter Blatty, author of “The Exorcist” and a literary idol of mine, was sitting down to watch Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair and Max von Sydow terrify viewers in the film adaptation of his novel. No film like “The Exorcist” had been screened before, at least not on a major scale. 

A Sci-Fi favorite of mine, “Soylent Green,” was also released in 1973. Coincidentally, the film was set in 2022. Even more coincidentally — and horrifying — is the fact that there is a real company named Soylent that makes meal replacement products.

Al Pacino went from good cop to bad cop in “Serpico,” and George Romero’s “The Crazies,” both debuted on screen. The former grossed far more than the latter, shockingly. 

In 1973, the U.S. was embroiled in the Watergate Scandal. For those who do not know what that is by now, shame on you. President Richard Nixon was also sworn in for his second term, having won a landslide election the year prior. One good thing Nixon did in ‘73 was withdrawing the U.S. from Vietnam.

Skylab, the U.S.’s first space station, was launched May 14, 1973. Eleven days after its launch, a repair crew was sent up to fix the station, as it was busted in the vacuum of space, somehow. 

For those interested in seeing Skylab, head down to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The racehorse Secretariat won the 1973 American Triple Crown, destroying numerous records in the process. I’ve only included him because I remember watching the movie about him in elementary school. Pretty cool horse if you ask me.

In 50 years, I imagine someone will be writing an article about how America was captivated by Taylor Swift, and how there was almost a civil war over “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” I can hope that whoever writes that article will be as funny as me, but I know such a feat is impossible to conceive.