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1972 Songs of the Year

Home > Everywhere > Lists | Music | Performing Arts | Vintage and Retro
by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 14th 2022
1972 was a very good year for music
It's time to set the way back machine again. We're going to go back fifty years into the past and look at one of the best years for music in the 1970s.

This is songs of 1972.
1972, song, music, rock, pop
And we all drove this… Apparently. (Image by Emslichter from Pixabay)

1972 was an interesting year. The last remnants of the 1960s were still hanging on, the nascent glam rock music was just starting to come into its own, disco was yet to rear its all-encompassing head, and the charts were filled with a very eclectic mixture of musical styles and tastes. It was a very good year. I also turned 2 years old at the end of 1972, so I remember absolutely nothing about it.

Now, this is a long list, so the rules:
1) I need to like the song;
2) first released in 1972, either on an album or as a single (some charting hits were released on albums from 1971); and
3) one song per artist on the main list (so tough when it came to David Bowie!) and one version of each song.

With that in mind, let's hit the honourable mentions first! 'Alone Again (Naturally)' by Gilbert O'Sullivan; 'Always On My Mind' by Elvis Presley; 'Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me' by Mac Davis; 'Beautiful Sunday' by Daniel Boone; 'Celluloid Heroes' by The Kinks; 'Changes' by Black Sabbath; 'Crocodile Rock' by Elton John; 'Do It Again' by Steely Dan; 'Doctor My Eyes' by Jackson Browne; 'Dreams Are Ten A Penny' by Kincade; 'Frankenstein' by Edgar Winter; 'Ginger Man' by Brian Cadd; 'Gudbuy T'Jane' by Slade; 'Hang On To Yourself' by David Bowie; 'The Harder They Come' by Jimmy Cliff; 'Heart Of Gold' by Neil Young; 'Highway Star' by Deep Purple; 'Hold Your Head Up' by Argent; 'I Can See Clearly Now' by Johnny Nash; 'I Gotcha' by Joe Tex; 'Me And Mrs. Jones' by Billy Paul; 'New Orleans' by Harley Quinne; 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed; 'Popcorn' by Hot Butter; 'Reelin' In The Years' by Steely Dan; 'Rock And Roll (Parts 1 & 2) ' by Gary Glitter; 'School's Out' by Alice Cooper; 'So Tough' by Johnny O'Keefe with The Stuart Park Group; 'Song Sung Blue' by Neil Diamond; 'Starman' by David Bowie; 'Stuck In The Middle With You' by Stealers Wheel; 'Sylvia's Mother' by Dr Hook & The Medicine Show; 'The Cover Of "Rolling Stone"' by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show; 'The Jean Genie' by David Bowie; 'Thick As A Brick' by Jethro Tull; 'Ursula (The Swansea Song) ' by Barclay James Harvest; 'Ventura Highway' by America; 'Vicious' by Lou Reed; 'When A Blind Man Cries' by Deep Purple; 'Whiskey In The Jar' by Thin Lizzy; 'You Wear It Well' by Rod Stewart; & 'Your Mama Don't Dance' by Loggins & Messina.


Well, here's the 20 songs of the list proper.

'All The Young Dudes' by Mott the Hoople

For years I thought this was by David Bowie. Turns out, it's not, but Bowie did write it. This is such a great song with one of those sing-along choruses that, even in the 80s at our parties, it would get people joining in. Very loudly.

'I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)' by The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues nowadays seem to be remembered for their slower tracks or covers, but a song like this, a straight-ahead rock song about how being a singer is nothing great, shows they could do anything and do it brilliantly.

'In The Street' by Big Star

I was introduced to this song as the theme track for TV's That &0s Show, in a faster version. When I found this more laid-back version, I was stunned. This is a great tune that just feels like a great summer in the city track.

'Join Together' by The Who

Originally a non-album single, this is a stunning song about coming together. Simple, really. Little story: this was used as the theme song for a Commonwealth Games broadcast in the 90s some time. My mum heard it and asked about it so I played her the song and she said she liked it. My mother liked a Who song. Maybe it's that sort of a track…

'Laguna Sunrise' by Black Sabbath

Yes, this is really Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne at the helm! Along with 'Changes', the album Vol. 4 showed some different sides of the band. Oh, and you cannot listen to it in stereo in one headphone. The channels are different and mesh perfectly.

'Lean On Me' by Bill Withers

This is a song I was tempted to do a cover versions column on but, with the exception of the version by Club Nouveau, all the versions sound like this. And this is glorious. This is one of the most uplifting songs every recorded.

'Listen To The Music' by The Doobie Brothers

Some pleasant and upbeat California rock by The Doobie Brothers who reached their popularity peak in 1972, and this song is a great reason why. But they are still going and if you can find the "isolation" version of this track from 2020, it is worth it.

'Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)' by The Hollies

The Hollies were part of the UK beat boom of the 60s, but had their biggest hit in 1974 with a cover of 'The Air That I Breathe'. However, this track, a rock song leaning into the production and guitar work of the time, hits really well.

'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' by Slade

Glam rock from one of my favourite bands in the genre. So many of their songs have been covered by those that followed them but none can match Noddy Holder for the sheer force of personality. A fun band, and a fun song to go along with it.

'Metal Guru' by T. Rex

Speaking of glam rock, we go to the man who is regarded as having started it – Marc Bolan – and the band known as Tyrannosaurus Rex when they did psychedelia. This is a harmless song that I put here because every time I hear it I cannot help but sing along, and my teenaged son is in the same boat.

'Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy) ' by Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs

While 1972 was great in music, for Australian music releases in 1971 and 1973/4 were far better. But, then again, one of the greatest Australian songs of the 70s came out in 1972 – this one. It has rightfully gone down as an all-time classic. The video is from the Sunbury '72 Festival, which is one of the many musical events I wished I had been old enough to attend.

'Old Man' by Neil Young

I recently looked at Neil Young's latest album, so it's only fair I gush over his first solo album – Harvest. The album is, top-to-bottom, wonderful, but this track has always stuck with me. Such a beautiful piece, and I have more resonance now, as I have gone from the young man to the old man in the song.

'Redback On The Toilet Seat' by Slim Newton

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Until recently, I hadn't realised this song was as old as it was, and I always assumed it was by Slim Dusty! Well, it's by a different Slim, and, yes, it is from 1972… and, yes, it is about a spider bite in a very tender place. Silly, but I love it.

'Rocket Man' by Elton John

One of John's slower songs, and a song I have always liked. His voice is so glorious here, and I can see why they named the recent movie biopic after the tune. So beautiful. Oh, and if you want another wonderful version – Kate Bush from the Two Rooms set is worth tracking down as well.

'Smoke On The Water' by Deep Purple

Yes! This has to be here! This song probably sits in the mind of classic rock music lovers as the song of 1972. Just from the opening guitar chords, this song is as famous and well-known as any classic rock track. Deep Purple are still kicking wonderfully, but, you know, they may have reached an absolute Everest-like peak with this track so early on.

'Suffragette City' by David Bowie

I umm-ed and ahh-ed and finally settled on this straight ahead rock track as my David Bowie selection for this column, one of my favourite of his songs, driven along by Mick Ronson's guitar. So amazingly good.

'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder in full-on funk mode with this track from Talking Book and, apart from saxophone and trumpet, he played every instrument on the song. This is one of my favourite of his songs.

'Take It Easy' by Eagles

Written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, this song is possibly the template for laid-back California rock, a style of music Eagles would make their own as the years went on. A pleasant, comfortable song.

'Virginia Plain' by Roxy Music

One of the best debut singles in rock, this stunning track from Roxy Music is so good. And the fact of the matter is, it's not even their best track, showing that this band had "it" from the word go.

'Walk On The Wild Side' by Lou Reed

Lou Reed, having recently left The Velvet Underground, hit the ground running with this single that was so heavily edited by some radio stations all it consisted of was a series of backing singers chanting "Doo doo-doo…". It is a magnificent tale of the people on the fringes of society as it was then, telling tales of people who would not be accepted for decades… and some still not completely accepted.

'You're So Vain' by Carly Simon

Who is the song about? Many have claimed it (including Mick Jagger, who sings backing vocals on the track!) but it does seem to be about a record company executive. It doesn't matter – this track is just a really good one and a fine way to close off this list.

And there we are, 50 years ago! 1972 was such a great year for music, and I think this list shows that. But what did I miss out? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope you enjoyed this one.


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Why? 50 years ago and music was arguably better
Where: Everywhere
Your Comment
thanks for the memories !
by ultim (score: 2|221) 127 days ago
It was around that time when I really got serious about music and was able to buy my own records. I was 12 in 1972. Definitely a great year for good music.
by Kez.b (score: 2|118) 121 days ago
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