Friday, 1 July 2016

My Top Ten Songs About 1972

So I had an idea for a series of sporadic posts about specific years. Not songs that were released in that year but songs that directly referred to it. Should keep me busy until at least... oh, say, 2525?

Anyway, I thought I'd start with the year that Eminem, Ben Affleck, Cameron Diaz, Karl Urban, The Rock, Biggie Smalls, Jennifer Garner, Brad Paisley, Idris Elba, Liam Gallagher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Billie Joe Armstrong were born. Oh, and yours truly. A lot of the time these days, I feel very old. But if I'm only as old as those guys... actually, I don't feel too bad about it.

1972 was the year of Watergate, terrorism at the Munich Olympics, and Atari's first video game: Pong. Just in case you're older than me and you remember such things first hand.

Oh, and it was also the year the UK signed The European Communities Act, which allowed us to join the EU the following year... whatever happened to that?

10. Bloodhound Gang - The Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope

Oh, and James Moyer Franks... or Jimmy Pop, if you prefer... was also born in 1972. Although he's made a career out of acting like he was always born exactly 14 years ago, no matter what it says on his birth certificate or the calendar. As evidence, I submit the fact that this is from an album called Hooray For Boobies. As always, I make no apologies for liking The Bloodhound Gang. They keep me in touch with my inner juvenile delinquent.
One thousand nine hundred and seventy-two:
That's the year I got here, when my dear mother's water blew.
Not really realizin' the prize that's been begot to her
The bona fide lo-fi high-octane philosopher.
Genius with a penis, the few, the proud, the me
I liked me so much I had to buy the company...

Conclusions you drew, proportions you blew:
Lost son of Iggy? False bigger nose than Ziggy? True!
Yes my name is Jimmy Pop; no, my pop's name is Dick.
Don't admit to kick it slick you thick, derelict critic
Put down for missed notes, put up with misquotes.
Don't want the whole story? Should have bought the Cliff Notes!
9. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - The Same Old You

But Jimmy Pop isn't the only one to associate 1972 with Ziggy...

Hey, I remember you back in '72
With your David Bowie hair and your platform shoes
You had a part-time job, selling fast food
But out on the street you were nobody's fool!
8. Ben Folds Five - Michael Praytor, Five Years Later

From Ben Folds' 2012 reunion with the other two members of his Five, here we find him remembering an old school friend who he first met in '72 (Ben would have been 6). When he meets him again 24 years later, both their circumstances have changed drastically. It's a meditation on the strange way we connect to people, then lose touch, and sometimes reconnect with very different people years later... told with Folds' typically witty lyrical detail.

7. Belle & Sebastian - Me & The Major 

A timely illustration of the class and generational divide that should, perhaps, be required listening for anyone blaming the baby boomers for recent ridiculous political decisions in the UK. One of many stand out tracks from the album If You're Feeling Sinister, it begins with Stuart Murdoch reflecting on everything that stops him being close friends with this man of much higher standing... although he soon ends up feeling sorry for him.
Now he is swapping his tent for a sheltered home
He doesn't have a family, and he is living alone
He remembers all the punks and the hippies too
And he remembers Roxy Music in '72
He doesn't understand and he doesn't try
He knows there's something missing and he knows it's you and I
We're the younger generation, we grew up fast
All the others did drugs
They're taking it out on us
6. Jake Owen - 1972

This week's token contemporary country track (ah, I remember the days when all I wrote about was indie!), although Jake Owen wasn't born till '81 so it appears he's reminiscing about his father's childhood in this song. I do like a good lyrical pun though, and this one starts out with a doozy...
Daddy drove in over, it was sky blue
He worked at a record store after school
Called it Sympathy for the Vinyl
And that's before we even get to the serious rhyming overdose that is...
We’ll be chillin' like a villain on some Dylan while we’re killin' some booze
We’re gonna kick it like the kids did in 1972
Call me a philistine, but I love that stuff.

5. Bruce Springsteen - Brothers Under The Bridge

Like Born In The USA, this is another Bruce song about coming home from Vietnam and finding not a lot waiting for you.
I come home in '72
You were just a beautiful light
In your mama's dark eyes of blue
I stood down on the tarmac, I was just a kid
Me and the brothers under the bridge

Come Veterans' Day I sat in the stands in my dress blues
I held your mother's hand
When they passed with the red, white and blue
One minute you're right there... and something slips...
Not to be confused with the '83 song Brothers Under The Bridges, a much more defiant and uptempo rocker... which doesn't appear to be set in 1972.

4. Okkervil River - John Allyn Smith Sails

American poet John Berryman (whose real name features in the above title) committed suicide in 1972. Okkervil River's Will Sheff is obviously a Berryman fan - even though he wasn't born until 4 years later. The song takes a confessional and confrontational first person approach similar to Berryman's poetry...
From a bridge on Washington Avenue
The year of 1972
Broke my bones and skull
And it was memorable

It was half a second and I was halfway down
Do you think I wanted to turn back around
And teach a class
Where you kiss the ass that I've exposed to you?
...before segueing seamlessly into Sloop John B. (a traditional folk song from the Bahamas long before Brian Wilson got his hands on it), adding a completely new meaning to "this is the worst trip I've ever been on..." (although, to be fair, Brian probably knows a thing or two about bad trips too).

3. Dexys Midnight Runners - Until I Believe In My Soul

The longest song on Too-Rye-Aye is the one that points the way forward for Kevin Rowland, away from the sheer pop bombast of Come On Eileen and Jackie Wilson Says to a much more introspective and experimental stream-of-consciousness lyricism. It's also one of the first songs in which he appears to be arguing with himself and reaching no real conclusion, both of which would become recurrent motifs in his work (and still are today).
And I'm on the train from New Street
To Euston. I'm going out to Harrow again
And I'm trying to get the feeling
That I had in 1972.
Oh but you're going too fast for me here,
I'm saying, wait a minute there, wait a minute there
Hold it, stop! Let me get this clear...
(That's all there ever is) oh yeah yeah yeah?
(That's all there ever was) yes, yes. Ha ha ha.
(The same for everyone) Oh yes. Yes. Yes.
2. Morrissey - Late Night, Maudlin Street

If ever there was a word crying out to be shoehorned into a Morrissey song, Maudlin was it. Apparently influenced by Joni Mitchell on this one, Moz remembers his first year as a teenager in miserably hilarious fashion. 7 and a half minutes of maudlin glory from his debut solo album, Viva Hate, recorded 29 years ago.
Don't leave your torch behind
A powercut ahead; 1972, you know
And so we crept through the park
No, I cannot steal a pair of jeans off a clothesline
For you
But you ... without clothes
Oh, I could not keep a straight face
Me - without clothes ?
Well, a nation turns its back and gags...
1. Josh Rouse - 1972

Josh Rouse was born in 1972 too. Back in 2002, to celebrate his 30th birthday, he wrote this song in tribute to the year of his birth. The album it came from was filled with lush 70s AM radio style pop. Harry Nilsson - the man who was at Number One in the UK Singles Chart on the day I entered this world - would surely approve.
She was feeling 1972
Grooving to a Carole King tune
Is it too late, baby?
Is it too late?

Was 1972 a good one for you? Or do you just remember it through song...?


  1. Impressive

    In Seventy-two we was born to lose
    We slipped down snakes into yesterday's news
    I was ready to quit
    But then we went to Croydon

    Mott the Hoople - Saturday Gigs

    1. Thanks. That was in the running but ended up being rejected because it doesn't just refer to 1972, but a few other years as well. It wasn't the only song to miss out because of me being so strict with the rules this week.


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