Soft rock is the hyper-seventies pop music genre that mixes sensitive lyrics, feathered hair, and open-collar rayon shirts with silky harmonies, piano leads, and memorable melodies.
It is the subject of Sometimes When We Touch (Paramount+), a three-part documentary series.
See Also: Sometimes When We Touch — S1, Ep2 Review
It features contemporary interviews with people like Sheryl Crow, LA Reid, Big Boi, and Stewart Copeland. Recollections from people like Kenny Loggins, Marilyn McCoo, and Toni Tennile, round out the MTV Studios production.
When Do We Touch, do we stream it or not?
“Where did the soft rock come from?” is the opening shot.
This is the gist: “Everyone seemed to be slightly stoned, and they definitely were. It was extremely chill, like, ‘We’re just going to take everything down a notch.'”
The Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Player, Bread, Orleans, and Dan Hill broke through on the Hot 100, Easy Listening, and R&B charts. It was often alongside music that was an amalgam of genres and sonic styles, as described by Bangles cofounder Susanna Hoffs.
Americans began to seek solace in meditation and yoga as well as exotic cocktails and sly hints of extramarital affairs… Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” reached number one in 1979… Soft rock emerged as the nation’s preferred musical accompaniment.
This piece is like a documentary you might find on VH1. A “tsunami of softness to heal from ’60s chaos,” the narrator explains, is the yacht rock tool kit.
Take Me Back to the Time
Richard Marx talks about how the Rhodes piano, which altered the piano’s signature sound, affected the entire genre. Marx opines, “It’s hotter.” What you’d get if you crossed an acoustic piano with a set of vibes, essentially. Billy Joel saw the potential of the Rhodes and drove the warm tone of “Just the Way You Are” into the top five in 1977.
Several artists from the era are featured here. But, Sometimes When We Touch really hits home when contemporary musicians pay tribute to these sounds from the ’70s. Ray Parker, Jr., in particular, could benefit from his own documentary. If only, to hear more stories about his tours with Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones as a teenage guitar wunderkind.
According to LA Reid, the radio was his “introduction to all of this lovely music,”. Sheryl Crow found the mellow acoustic grooves of Bread irresistible when she was a roller skating youngster. The song “Baby I’m-a Want You” is sung by her as well.
When We Touch, Sometimes Online Picture Gallery: PARAMOUNT+
To What Television Programs Will It Be Similar? The vast body of work produced by Leon Russell is not typically classified as soft rock.
Les Blank filmed the Russell documentary A Poem Is a Naked Person in the middle of the ’70s, and its visual and conceptual meandering provides insightful context for the decade’s music and society. Yacht Rock, starring “Hollywood” Steve Huey and David B. Lyons, is a classic YouTube series that explores the smooth music of this era and was responsible for inspiring Sometimes When We Touch.
Sometimes When We Touch is now available for streaming on Paramount+.