If you're of the right age--and I was--George Carlin's comedy albums were an important part of your adolescence. Class Clown was huuuge in the early 1970s, the sort of album you and your friends listened to when the adults were out of the house. Sure, the "7 Words You Can't Say on TV" was our taboo pleasure, but the rest of the album was hilarious, too, and the comic's distaste for hypocrisy actual made his comedy unusually ethical [Carlin would've laughed that his AP obit said he was from "Morningside Heights" on Manhattan, since he joked on that album that "Morningside Heights" was just the acceptable euphemism for what the neighborhood really was, Spanish Harlem]. You also looked forward to Carlin's many Flip Wilson Show guest shots. Later, of course, you realized that Carlin was part of a larger comic tradition of outspokenness, and that he and Richard Pryor carried the baton that Lenny Bruce almost singlehandedly fought to get to them through routines like this [available on the amazing Lenny Bruce: Let the Buyer Beware boxed set]:
By the end of the 1970s, Carlin had already become self-parody in a sense (I remember Rick Moranis nailing the Carlin cliches during an SCTV sketch). But even as he became more accepted and did all those HBO specials, he still kept much of his outspokenness, particularly in his rants against organized religion.
Here's a typically brilliant Carlin Tonight Show appearance from May 1972, during his most influential period. Enjoy: