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Rediscovering 1972 

"I listen to CHUM."

In the early '70s, my local Top 40 outlet had a contest whereby if you answered your phone in this way and they were the caller, you'd win $1,000. It struck me as ill-mannered to say anything other than "hello" when picking up the phone, and anyway, CHUM never called. But despite my reluctance to give them free advertising whenever the phone rang, I certainly spent 1972 listening to CHUM. So, for the final instalment in the music-of-my-youth trilogy, I present my Top 100 of 1972, the last great year of the Top 40 era. And as good as 1972 is, intimations of the decay to come were already festering. To be blunt, the goop was overtaking the gold, and things would only get worse from here.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the charts of 1973—and to a lesser extent, '74 and '75—contain many great songs. However, the goop-to-gold ratio had definitively tipped in the wrong direction, and by 1976 my Top 40 party was over. "Soft rock," an oxymoron if ever there was one, now dominated the airwaves, making them unbearably saccharine. If I recall, the last 45 I ever bought was "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band and I recall giving it a spin and asking, "Why did I buy this?" Sadder still, the dynamite, socially conscious soul and funk of the early '70s had now devolved into disco, which managed to dumb down the groove and the words. I suppose by then I had moved on in other ways, too. Like any self-respecting teenager in the mid-'70s, I'd discovered album rock and FM radio. Which, from this distance—scouring my collection for the Foreigner albums I parted with long ago—was no better than the Top 40; just a different flavour of slick, soppy pablum. All these years later, to paraphrase Mr. Johnny Nash, I can see clearly now why punk had to happen. That, though, is another post for another day.

If you've read this far, you may have noticed several number-one songs missing from my Top 100 of 1970, '71 and '72. I have nothing against chart-toppers as such, but especially then it seemed that the dreck rose to the top far too often. Countless killer songs stalled at #2 because The Osmonds, Tony Orlando & Dawn, The Bee Gees, Bread and their ilk hogged the top spot. When CHUM played any of these (and boy, they did), I changed the station, and you won't find them within miles of my Top 100. Anyway, for what it's worth, this time out I've bunched together five of 1972's number-one songs on my Top 100 below to give you a sense of what CHUM considered the crème de la crème, non-Osmond genus.

The songs are in no particular order, other than what makes sense to me as a playlist. Several singles released in 1972 didn't chart until 1973 on CHUM, and some very late in that year, too. Regardless, they properly belong to 1972 and so are included here. In brackets is the date the song debuted on the CHUM chart, followed by its peak chart position. Chart-topping songs are in bold. A few worthy songs didn't make the CHUM chart, but I heard them somehow. They may have charted on other regional stations I listened to. As for the rest, they're worthy tunes I encountered later that deserved a better fate. Explore, discover and enjoy the very best of 1972!

  1. Joy - Apollo 100 (1/15/72, #6)
  2. You Wear It Well - Rod Stewart (9/23/72, #11)
  3. Sweet Seasons - Carole King (1/29/72, #12)
  4. Doctor, My Eyes - Jackson Browne (4/8/72, #2)
  5. Treetrunk - The Doors (did not chart)
  6. Black and White - Three Dog Night (8/19/72, #1)
  7. I Believe in Music - Gallery (10/14/72, #12)
  8. Roundabout - Yes (3/18/72, #5)
  9. I Gotcha - Joe Tex (3/4/72, #7)
  10. You're Still a Young Man - Tower of Power (7/15/72, #17)
  11. I'm Still in Love with You - Al Green (8/5/72, #12)
  12. Hold Your Head Up - Argent (8/5/72, #6)
  13. Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon (5/13/72, #19)
  14. Hello It's Me - Todd Rundgren (11/17/73, #7)
  15. Do It Again - Steely Dan (1/27/73, #7)
  16. Cousin Mary - Fludd (11/3/73, #19)
  17. Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) - Jim Croce (12/2/72, #18)
  18. Old Man - Neil Young (5/6/72, #11)
  19. Ventura Highway - America (11/25/72, #5)
  20. Go All the Way - Raspberries  (8/12/72, #9)
  21. How Do You Do - Mouth & MacNeal (6/3/72, #3)
  22. Saturday in the Park - Chicago (8/5/72, #2)
  23. Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed (4/14/73, #9)
  24. School's Out - Alice Cooper (7/29/72, #1)
  25. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple (6/30/73, #5)
  26. Long John Silver - Jefferson Airplane (did not chart)
  27. We've Got to Get It on Again - The Addrisi Brothers (1/22/72, #5)
  28. Superstition - Stevie Wonder (12/30/72, #3)
  29. Oh Girl - The Chi-Lites (4/15/72, #1)
  30. Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - The Spinners (2/3/73, #8)
  31. Too Late to Turn Back Now - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (6/10/72, #5)
  32. Listen to the Music - The Doobie Brothers (10/21/72, #6)
  33. Bad Side of the Moon - April Wine (7/8/72, #16)
  34. Beautiful Sunday - Daniel Boone (7/15/72, #2)
  35. Changes - David Bowie (did not chart)
  36. Conquistador - Procol Harum (6/3/72, #7)
  37. Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright (1/1/72, #4)
  38. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield (did not chart)
  39. Let's Stay Together - Al Green (1/1/72, #2)
  40. Backstabbers - The O'Jays (8/19/72, #4)
  41. The Cisco Kid - War (4/14/73, #4)
  42. I'll Take You There - The Staple Singers (4/29/72, #10)
  43. Take It Easy - The Eagles (6/10/72, #12)
  44. Dunrobin's Gone - Brave Belt (7/1/72, #23)
  45. Guns, Guns, Guns - The Guess Who (did not chart)
  46. The Family of Man - Three Dog Night (3/25/72, #2)
  47. Someday Never Comes - Creedence Clearwater Revival (5/13/72, #15)
  48. Long Cool Woman - The Hollies (6/24/72, #3)
  49. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Robert John (1/22/72, #3)
  50. Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts (10/28/72, #1)
  51. Precious and Few - Climax (1/15/72, #1)
  52. I'm Gonna Love You Too - Terry Jacks (12/16/72, #12)
  53. Masquerade - Edward Bear (6/3/72, #14)
  54. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want - A Foot in Coldwater (7/1/72, #21)
  55. Rock and Roll Song - Valdy (10/21/72, #21)
  56. Sun Goes By - Dr. Music (7/8/72, #17)
  57. Day by Day - Godspell (7/8/72, #8)
  58. Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce (12/15/73, #8)
  59. Goodbye to Love - Carpenters (8/5/72, #6)
  60. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack (3/18/72, #1)
  61. Betcha by Golly Wow - The Stylistics (3/18/72, #6)
  62. Bang a Gong (Get It On) - T. Rex (2/5/72, #8)
  63. Get Up, Get Out, Move On - Fludd (4/8/72, #18)
  64. Rocket Man - Elton John (6/24/72, #7)
  65. Beautiful - Gordon Lightfoot (5/27/72, #17)
  66. Suavecito - Malo (3/18/72, #8)
  67. If You Don't Know Me by Now - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (11/18/72, #4)
  68. You Ought to Be with Me - Al Green (12/9/72, #20)
  69. Lean on Me - Bill Withers (6/17/72, #1)
  70. Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas (1/6/73, #1)
  71. Heart of Gold - Neil Young (2/12/72, #1)
  72. Alone Again (Naturally) - Gilbert O'Sullivan (6/24/72, #1)
  73. I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash (10/14/72, #1) 
  74. Sylvia's Mother - Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (4/15/72, #2)
  75. Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass (6/10/72, #3)
  76. I Saw the Light - Todd Rundgren (5/6/72, #18)
  77. Baby Blue - Badfinger (4/1/72, #12)
  78. Drowning in the Sea of Love - Joe Simon (1/8/72, #17)
  79. Get on the Good Foot - James Brown (did not chart)
  80. Troglodyte (Cave Man) - The Jimmy Castor Bunch (5/27/72, #3)
  81. Runnin' Away - Sly & the Family Stone (2/19/72, #19)
  82. Take the Blindness - Joey Gregorash (11/11/72, #17)
  83. One More Chance - Ocean (9/16/72, #15)
  84. Cotton Jenny - Anne Murray (2/12/72, #18)
  85. Daytime Nighttime - Keith Hampshire (11/18/72, #6)
  86. Runnin' Back to Saskatoon - The Guess Who (9/23/72, #5)
  87. City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie (10/14/72, #6)
  88. Use Me - Bill Withers (9/23/72, #9)
  89. Everybody Plays the Fool - The Main Ingredient (8/26/72, #6)
  90. Tumbling Dice - The Rolling Stones (4/22/72, #11)
  91. You Could Have Been a Lady - April Wine (3/11/72, #6)
  92. Mother and Child Reunion - Paul Simon (2/12/72, #4)
  93. America - Yes (did not chart)
  94. Isn't Life Strange - The Moody Blues (4/29/72, #17)
  95. Never Been to Spain - Three Dog Night (1/1/72, #4)
  96. Look What You Done for Me - Al Green (4/29/72, #19)
  97. Freddie's Dead - Curtis Mayfield (11/11/72, #17)
  98. Papa Was a Rollin' Stone - The Temptations (11/25/72, #1)
  99. Vincent - Don McLean (4/22/72, #5)
  100. Amazing Grace - The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (5/20/72, #1)

Photographs by Carol Witwicky. Instrument illustrations and GZ logo © 2017 Grinning Zone Studios.
Album and lyrics page artwork © 2017 Gabriel Altrows. Web design by Vern Nicholson.
Sour Landslide and Benvereens archival footage courtesy Neil Whitlock.
All pages and contents © 2017-2019 Vern Nicholson.