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Year to Remember: 1972

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke joins us to look back at music of 1972 - a 12-month period that saw the birth of David Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust, crooner Al Green's commercial breakthrough, and the continuing growth of the singer-songwriter generation.

What’s your musical memory of 1972? Leave a comment. 


David Fricke

Comments [30]


I am of the same opinion as you do, if you consider that the man can say the same respect as you

Oct. 11 2012 09:17 AM
Dave Rowh

First of all, let me establish that I was not alive in 1972. My love of the music of all types & times has given me a little bit of vision back into those days, however...All I was going to say was that I was surprised at how long it took for 'American Pie' to be mentioned. That little ditty lives on as one of the great iconic songs of the entire history of pop. music. That's all.

May. 15 2012 12:00 AM

@ Clive: In '72, being white, teenage, and from Queens (in my case, Bayside, to be exact; that's a train + a bus ride from Manhattan; even farther than Schaeffer, I'll bet) was no bar to familiarity with the Staples Singers -- they were being played on the radio with a #1 hit. Even in Queens.

May. 14 2012 11:34 PM
clive betters

john, you were just too white, and too much of a queens[ny] kid,to have been into the staples singers, in 1972[at least publicly]. just an observation,no judgement.

May. 12 2012 12:00 AM
David from SI from New York


Exile on Main St.
Shostakovich 15 (Ormandy/Philadelphia)
And number one: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
I had to look up the Shostakovich because I was thinking of the first Vc Concerto, but that was 73.
Reich's "Clapping Music" had an effect on me too, but that was reading about it a few years later.

Because of my sister I also remember
Cat Stevens
Carly Simon

May. 11 2012 11:01 PM
Ann from New York

Tumblin' dice, School's out for Summer by Alice Cooper and Rocket Man all played to death on the juke box at Edinburgh University student centre.

May. 11 2012 10:41 PM
joe r

Who's Next .

May. 11 2012 10:36 PM
Kevin Murphy from NYC

Sorry that was a bit long winded . Got carried away.

May. 11 2012 04:09 PM
Kevin Murphy from NYC

I had an older brother, and I am sure that many of us were deeply affected by our older siblings taste as was I. He brought home The Allman Brothers Live at the Filmore East. And while I was deeply moved, albeit obsessed by it at the time, I rarely listen to it with perhaps the exception of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" This and perhaps "Live Dead" the Skull and Roses album, I listened to over and over. Again, the Dead I never listen to with the exception of Bertha. Eventually I moved on from these ur documents of revisionist blues, country and rock and roll to the the complexities of Euro Prog rock; things that I pretty much cringe at these days. Eventually, having shed what I see as the pretensions of bands like King Crimson, Yes, Van der Graff Generator, and many other facets of a typically art damaged late seventies art school education, tired of bombast and euro centric preening, I delved deeply into American music. I was tired of a kind of continental, euro-centric model. I wanted something simpler, more heart felt, and to embrace my own history in music as well as literature and art. I had come of age in the early eighties and missed the hey day of punk, which of course changed many things, but was a relatively short flowering from say 74 to 78, after which time it seemed to devolve into an amazingly premature nostalgia. It's wide spread dissemination into the main stream was slow in fact. and was seemingly transmuted into the largely inane New Wave movement which tended to have taken hair care more seriously than the music--and to a new extreme-- culminating perhaps in 80's hair bands. (Although Elvis P and Punks had some serious relationships with their hair) I suppose that I was moved by what became know as roots rock--a terms I always disliked and was to me somehow confining. I remain devoted American music from the early county blues, gospel, real R and B, rock and roll, although perhaps not in such a reactionary manner. ( Kids keep me honest and expose have exposed me to some great stuff made in the last decade) And while my like minded friends tend to dismiss the Allman Brothers and The Dead as pale shadows of a great musical lineage I am forever indebted to them. They were for me the template for what became my taste. I first heard Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Merle Haggard, Otis Redding,Hank Williams, Tampa Red,string band music, and some vestiges of free jazz that were embedded and had been the inspiration of both the Dead and the Allman Brothers (as well as the Stones and a million garage bands who I personally find a bit more genuine in their expression and still transport me with just three chords and attitude). This may sound more judgmental than I intend it to be. They are fine musicians and their music is perfectly valid, but for me they remain more gateway to me then the heart of the matter. God Bless 'em.

May. 11 2012 04:03 PM
KrisKraft from UpperWest

I was already a longtime Rock/R&B bassist. In 1972 I was expanding my concepts with Mahavishnu, Return to Forever, Weather Report, Yes, Zappa -- amazing, complex music. Suddenly I heard a music which turned me around 180 degrees & changed my life -- and my music -- forever. "The Harder They Come" soundtrack rocked my world with a crazy new riddem, built on my familiar beloved R&B, and powered with the spirit of rebellion I felt had gone out with the 60s. The film starring Jimmy Cliff, still a major favorite, blew me away and left me "reelin" as well as rockin'. I'm "still rockin' after all these years", but that movie and album stand as a seminal/formative milestone -- and the music is always part of me.

May. 11 2012 03:17 PM
Katie (Soundcheck Producer)

Blog post link is fixed above - thanks for heads up!

May. 11 2012 02:50 PM
Geoff from Yonkers

Great segment John, and great guest. I enjoyed Mr. Fricke's insightful and comprehensive comments. I was 18 and it's a bit of a blur, but: King Crimson, ELP, Savoy Brown, Stevie Wonder, and if I'm not mistaken, the dawn of Steely Dan with the release of "Can't Buy a Thrill."

May. 11 2012 02:42 PM
RD from Mich

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
Fond memories of listening to Cat Stevens "The Boy with a Moon & Star on His Head" (Catch Bull at Four) at my hippy uncles house.
Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds and of course Deep Purple - Machine Head

May. 11 2012 02:41 PM
Sig from Manhattan

Most comments on the air were about pop music, though John mentioned the singer-songwriter. My 1972 memory is of Kris Kristofferson's fist album, with Me and Bobby McGee; most of the songs were gold quality,and it included one from his sudent days based on the philosophy of Lebnitz, as is appropriate for a Rhodes scholar: Best of All aossible Worlds.

May. 11 2012 02:40 PM
Dorian from Manhattan

I was at sleep away camp in the Catskills. My counselor, a 16-year-old from Brooklyn who leather jackets and sounded a bit like the character we'd later call The Fonz, brought this "great new" album by a guy we "had to know about" called Neil Young, who, he said, was doing solo music after performing with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

That was my introduction to Harvest, and to Neil Young, who, along with other music of CSNY in their various iterations, pairings and solo careers became a constant part of my musical life throughout the '70s and early '80s.

Wikipedia tells me that Harvest was the best-selling album of 1972.

May. 11 2012 02:38 PM
David from Detroit

Forgot to mention, Exile on main street was also my first girlfriends favorite album, when I met her about 4 years later

May. 11 2012 02:35 PM
John McNally from Annandale NJ

I also notice it was an in-between year for some bands. No Pink Floyd album that year: Meddle (71), Darkside (73). No Led Zep: Zoso (71) Houses of the Holy (73)...

May. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Antonio from Mexico City

Ahh 1972 was just a few 13 years before I was born. But I later discovered it was the year of The Allman Brothers' Eat A Peach Album, and the amazing "Blue Sky". Also The last album with Duane Allman.

May. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Jack from South Salem, NY

Leon Russell released "Carney" which included "Tightrope". That track reached #3 on the Billboard charts. The album also included oft recorded "This Masquerade".

May. 11 2012 02:30 PM
frank from Newark NJ

My fav year, i was 14 at the time. Humble Pie Live at the Fillmore, Black Sabbath.. Master of Reality...Slade..T.Rex..Neil Young..Harvest

May. 11 2012 02:29 PM
david claman from Queens

I had a paper route in the summer of 1972, and I remember being awake at 3 in the morning folding newspapers and listening to to "Low Spark of High Heel Boys" on the Denver radio station KBPI. This was during the few short years of FM rock when lengthy songs were played on the radio.

May. 11 2012 02:28 PM
JD from manhatan

It was the Hot summer of 1972, I was in the living room of our 1 bedroom apartment shared by my holocaust survivor grandparents, single mother, and 2 older brothers. I was 2, my brothers 3 and 5, and The vision of how happy and excited we were is as clear as the fog on my window as i cleaned it with my sleeve to see. My mother calmly asked if we were "ready" and to remember to all sing with each other- not over each other- and as she hit record on the tape recorder recently bought from Crazy Edddie's for 5:99 on special (firmly entrenched in memory as how happy my mother was and it was so rare to see her happy) She started us off- With her soft, mysterious voice that always, alway's made everything ok...
"A long long time ago
I can still remember.. how
that music used to make me smile
And I knew If I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And Maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
with every paper I'd Deliver...."

I can still see- all of us huddled around the table singing this song.
This song of Love loss and Hope.
And it gave me hope.
I knew this song made my mother smile
how could there not be Hope....

May. 11 2012 02:27 PM
Brian Coape-Arnold

Riding in a bus in the Cotswolds in England with "All the Young Dudes" playing on the radio.

May. 11 2012 02:27 PM
Garry from East Village, NYC

When I think about the year 1972 sadly it's the things I WASN'T listening to that come to mind. Records like like Big Star's first album, Rock of Ages by The Band, and Neil Young's Harvest. These are all great records that I missed the first time around.

May. 11 2012 02:27 PM
David from Detroit

My favorite album of all time, Exile On Main Street was released. I still listen to this album, just a couple weeks ago.

May. 11 2012 02:25 PM
Tom from UWS

Also, John Denver, Brewer and Shipley, Jacksons, The Doors. No end.

May. 11 2012 02:23 PM
Judy from Manhattan

can't seem to open the blog link. Anyway, can't remember the exact year- but I was in Junior High and feel like I was listening to the Dead, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and the Allman Brothers

May. 11 2012 02:22 PM
John McNally from Annandale NJ

1972! So much good stuff, but how 'bout those of us who were immersed in Yes's FRAGILE album. "Heart of the Sunrise" felt like an education.

May. 11 2012 02:22 PM
Tom from UWS

The Band, Laura Nyro, CCR, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, and, most appropriately ...
Country Joe and the Fish, The FIxin' to Die Rag.
This was Vietnam, Nixon v Mc Govern, and we really did want to know "What are we Fighting For?"

May. 11 2012 02:21 PM
Siouxie from Bronx

John Schafer - your blog link doesn't work. : (

May. 11 2012 02:19 PM

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