The History of Pop Music – 1972

Featured song:

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show – Sylvias’ Mother

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it. One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So on we go with memories from 1972: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about doom and gloom followed by more doom and gloom.  The “Troubles” kicked off big time in Northern Ireland.  A 7 week miners’ strike, then later in the year a mass Docker’s strike so a state of emergency was in place. The Pound was floated, the second Cod war.  The King who abdicated dies, and we had a bit of a constitutional upset.  Nothing good about this year apart from glam-rock kicking off big time, yay.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 16 in November, my parents had just split up, and so I had to stay with dad.  Mum went to live with grandma.  I did not like it, but I had to go to school, but on that day in November, we both went to the school on my birthday and signed me out.  I truly wished I had done better at school, just that I hated it.  Freedom at last.  Now, to find a job.  My brother in law was an upholstery cutter at a furniture place in Long Eaton and said he would sort me out.  Within a week I was an upholstery cutter, (well at least learning), 2 weeks later my first pay packet, £7 something it was.  Had to give half to my dad for board and keep though.  Heaven to me though.

TV programmes included:

After a three-year courtship, Emily Nugent marries Ernest Bishop on Coronation Street. Sesame Street is first broadcast.  16 October – Following the lifting of restrictions on broadcasting hours, ITV launches a new daytime television schedule with programmes commencing each day at around 9.30am.  In October – The BBC announces that development work has begun on the Ceefax teletext service.  The start of Burke’s Special, Mastermind, Are you being served, Colditz (which I thought was brilliant), Love Thy Neighbour, Crown Court and Emmerdale Farm.


Prime Minister – Edward Heath (Conservative)

9 January – The National Union of Mineworkers held a strike ballot in which 58.8% voted in favour of industrial action.  Coal miners begin a strike which lasts for seven weeks, including picketing of Saltley coke depot in Birmingham.

20 January – Unemployment exceeded the 1,000,000 mark for the first time since the 1930s- almost double the 582,000 who were unemployed when Edward Heath’s Conservative government came to power less than two years ago.

30 January – ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland: fourteen killed when troops open fire on demonstrators in Derry

9 February – A state of emergency was declared by Heath as a result of the miners’ strike

22 February – An Official Irish Republican Army bomb killed six people in the Aldershot Barracks bombing

30 March – The Troubles: The Parliament of Northern Ireland was suspended

19 April – A report into the Bloody Sunday shootings by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, exonerated the British troops of blame because the demonstration had been illegal

18 May Queen Elizabeth II met her uncle, Edward, Duke of Windsor for the last time, at his home in Paris.

24 May The final stretch of the M6 motorway opened between junctions 6 (Spaghetti Junction) and 7 north of Birmingham, with the fully operational motorway stretching more than 200 miles from Rugby to Carlisle, more than a decade after the first sections were opened.

26 May – The state-owned travel company Thomas Cook & Son is privatised.

5 June – The funeral of The Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII) is held at Windsor Castle.

23 June – The Chancellor of the Exchequer Anthony Barber announced a decision to float the Pound.

21 July – Bloody Friday: Nine people died and over a hundred were injured in a series of IRA explosions in Belfast city centre.

28 July – A strike by thousands of dockers led to the government announcing a state of emergency on 4 August.

31 July – The Troubles in Northern Ireland: Operation Motorman, 4:00 AM: British Army began to regain control of the “no-go areas” established by Irish republican paramilitaries in Belfast, Derry (“Free Derry”) and Newry.  Claudy bombing (“Bloody Monday”), 10:00 AM: Three car bombs in Claudy, County Londonderry, killed nine.  It became public knowledge only in 2010 that a local Catholic priest was an IRA officer believed to be involved in the bombings but his role was covered up by the authorities.

6 August – Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda, announced that 50,000 Asians with British passports are to be expelled from Uganda to the United Kingdom within the next three months as they are “sabotaging the Ugandan economy”.

1 September – Raising of school leaving age in England and Wales to sixteen for pupils leaving school at the end of the academic year began.

12 September – The sinking of two British trawlers by an Icelandic gunboat triggered the second Cod War.

18 September – Thousands of Ugandan Asians arrived in the UK after being deported by Idi Amin.

October – The lifting of restrictions on broadcasting hours permits extension of daytime television.

23 October – Access credit cards were introduced.

6 November – The Government introduces price and pay freezes to counter inflation.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top Hits of 1972
   1 Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Amazing Grace
   2 Lieutenant Pigeon Mouldy Old Dough
   3 Donny Osmond Puppy Love
   4 Nilsson Without You
   5 New Seekers I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing
   6 Chicory Tip Son Of My Father
   7 Gary Glitter Rock & Roll Part 1
   8 T Rex Metal Guru
   9 Neil Reid Mother Of Mine
   10 Don MacLean American Pie


What a year for Nilsson, Gary Glitter (whom I did consider to be the featured song, but obviously never really gave it a second thought), Don McLean also nearly made it American Pie, or indeed Vincent.  Slade, Gilbert O’Sullivan and T Rex still going great guns.  For the girls, David Cassidy was a huge star, as was Alice Cooper.  Rod Stewart also hitting the charts as a solo artist and with Pythin Lee Jackson and with the Faces.  Puppy Love by Donny was out, but FFS.  The start also of 10cc (Check out how they named themselves).

The tune:  “Sylvia’s Mother” released in March 1972 by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. It was the group’s first hit song. It was written by Shel Silverstein, produced by Ron Haffkine and was highly successful in the United States, reaching No 5 on the Billboard singles chart (tied with “Sexy Eyes” from the album Sometimes You Win for the band’s best performing song), as well as No 1 in Ireland and No 2 in the United Kingdom.  “Sylvia’s Mother” is autobiographical, with songwriter Shel Silverstein drawing upon his unsuccessful attempt to revive a failed relationship. Silverstein had been in love with a woman named Silvia Pandolfi, but she would later become engaged to another man and end up as a museum curator at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City.  Desperate to continue the relationship, Silverstein called Pandolfi’s mother, Louisa, but she instead told him that the love had ended.

The lyrics tell the story in much the same way: A young man, despondent and near tears after learning that Sylvia, with whom he’d had an earlier bad breakup, is leaving town, tries to telephone her to say one last good-bye, or at least try to get a suitable explanation as to why their relationship failed and maybe try to rekindle things. However, Sylvia’s mother (Mrs. Avery) tells him that Sylvia is engaged to be married and is trying to start a new life in Galveston. She asks the man not to say anything to her because she might start crying and want to stay. She tells the man Sylvia is hurrying to catch a 9 o’clock train. She then returns to the phone conversation, thanks the (unnamed) narrator for calling.  The pathos lies in the singer’s awareness that Sylvia is right there with her mother, Sylvia being unaware that he’s the man on the phone. AND throughout the phone conversation, an operator cuts in to ask for more money (“40 cents more for the next three minutes”) to continue the call.  Bless.

More writings on this song here: Sylvia’s Mother.

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track and most of the above top ten are:

10cc – Donna – Another of my favourite groups.

Python Lee Jackson – In a Broken Dream – Awesome stuff from Rod

Don McLean –American Pie

Don Mclean – Vincent

Roxy Music – Virginia Plain – This is special, first time I heard this I knew the group would be brilliant.

Faces – Stay With Me – Rod again.

The Move – California Man – You can see birth of ELO and Wizzard in this video

Lemmy Kilmister & HawkwindSilver Machine – Many will be pleased with this awesome tune, however I never did like anything else they did.

Alice Cooper – School’s Out

Middle Of The Road – Soley, Soley – Always liked this group, often played on Radio Luxembourg.

Mott the Hoople – All The Young Dudes – Super group.

The Shangri-Las –Leader Of The Pack – Check out the video, girl looks about 16 and a Marlon Brando *Look Alike* about 50.  So cheesy, but great song.

Elton John – Rocket Man – Super tune.

Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion

Layla – Derek and the Dominos – Is that you Eric?

Elvis Presley – An American Trilogy

Rod Stewart – What Made Milwaukee Famous (made a loser out of me) – Rod yet again, covering a Jerry Lewis song.

Slade – Goodbye to Jane (Gudbuy T’Jane) – I just love them.  (In a manly, non-ghey way)

Slade – Look Wot You Dun – I remember teachers not liking their spelling at all.

Elton John – Crocodile Rock – Another classic, wish I liked him more, probably to ghey for my liking.

Peter Skellern – You’re a Lady – Good “Last song dance tune”

The Chiffons – Sweet Talkin’ Guy – It’s from 1966 but only released over here in 1972.

Slade – Mama Weer All Crazy Now – I have always liked Slade.

Rod Stewart Feat. Faces – You Wear It Well

Gilbert O`Sullivan – Clair – Me being soppy again

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again -OK, you got me

Lindisfarne – Meet Me On the Corner – Classic

Slade – Take Me Bak ‘Ome

The Chi Lites – Have you seen her – great song

America – A horse with no name

Roberta Flack – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – What a beautiful song.

Hurricane Smith – Oh Babe, What Would You Say? – I still remember all the words.

The Drifters – Saturday night at the movies – great band, great tunes.

Vicky Leandros – Come What May – I am a sucker for Eurovision

The Osmonds – Crazy Horses – The only one I liked from them.

Elvis Presley – Burning Love

Sweet – Little Willy – Silly song, but I liked Sweet, they wanted to be hard rockers but were basically forced down the road of “teeny-pop”, they made a few bob though.

Fun song: – Chuck Berry – My Ding-a-Ling

Fun Song: Terry Dactyl And The Dinosayrs – Seaside Shuffle – Liked this

Fun Song: Benny Hill – Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)

Fun Song: I refuse to put Long Haired Lover from Liverpool by little Jimmy Osmond

40 songs for 1972 in my favourite lists.  Best year yet for proper pop music.

Hat tips to:  these give the top 100 selling charts for each year   these give the top 10 songs for each year  you know them.

Next Time 1973.

© Phil the test manager 2019

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