Don’s Top 10 From July 20, 1972
Another “Time Machine” back into history, as I look back at the hits from Thursday, July 20, 1972. These were the local top 10 singles:
"Rocket Man" by Elton John
(#11 last week) First single from "Honky Chateau". Songwriter Bernie Taupin was inspired both by Ray Bradbury's short story "The Rocket Man" in "The Illustrated Man" and by Taupin's sighting of either a shooting star or a distant airplane.
"Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass
(#20 last week) Rutgers U's Looking Glass had a typical problem for the 70s: their hit didn't sound much like their other material, which caused a problem at concerts. While audiences expected Pop songs like this, the Looking Glass played Rock, which left the crowds disappointed. The band broke up less than 2 years after being signed by the legendary Clive Davis..
"Layla" by Derek & The Dominos
(#14 last week) Duane Allman came up with the famous guitar riff and played lead with Eric Clapton. Allman ended up playing on this classic through good timing and a mutual admiration between he & Clapton. An edited version was released as a single in 1971. it ran 2:43 and flopped on the charts. Clapton went into a drug-filled depression when the single tanked. He couldn't understand why it wasn't a hit.The full, 7:10 version was released a year later as a single & became one of the most famous songs in rock history. Allman's death in a motorcycle accident in October, 1971 helped renew interest in the song.
"Conquistador" by Procol Harum
(#18 last week) A surprise comeback for the British band whose only other big hit, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", was five years old. Procol Harum recorded this live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers who set out to conquer the Americas after their discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
"Song Sung Blue" by Neil Diamond
(#8 last week) This was inspired by Mozart's "Piano Concerto no. 21", but Diamond didn't pay too much attention to it. He told an interviewer, "A very basic message, unadorned. I didn't even write a bridge to it... I had no idea that it would be a huge hit or that people would want to sing along with it". While Diamond didn't think this song had hit potential, Russ Regan, who ran his record label Uni, was a believer, telling Diamond it would be his "biggest copyright ever." Said Diamond, "Although the lyric says everything I wanted it to say, there's not much meat to it, but it turned out to be a major, major copyright."
"Too Late To Turn Back Now" by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
(#3 last week) This family group from south Florida only had two huge hits (one year apart), but both are enduring classics. I don't think a day has gone by since the summer of '72 where this song hasn't been played on radio.
"(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" by Luther Ingram
(#5 last week) Written by the Stax songwriters Homer Banks, Ray Jackson & Carl Hampton, this soulful song finds a married man with two children enthralled with his mistress. Despite warnings from his friends, he just can't help the way he feels, & is compelled to be with the other woman. The writers had the Stax girl-group The Emotions record the song, but their uptempo version didn't work and the song sat on the shelf until the R&B singer Luther Ingram found the tape while visiting the studios. He took the tape and worked out a more mournful arrangement with a Gospel feel. Then he recorded the song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, utilizing a Wurlitzer piano with an Echoplex unit and also a Hammond organ. The song became a #1 R&B hit.
"Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" by Wayne Newton
(#4 last week) This weepie about divorce was already climbing the charts in Great Britain before it was recorded by Las Vegas king Newton. The artist with the British hit version of it was Daniel Boone, who later had another hit in the US in the fall of 1972: "Beautiful Sunday".
"Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
(#9 last week) Gilbert O'Sullivan has denied that this very sad song is autobiographical or about the death of his father when he was 11. O'Sullivan said: "Everyone wants to know if it's an autobiographical song, based on my father's early death. Well, the fact of the matter is, I didn't know my father very well, and he wasn't a good father anyway. He didn't treat my mother very well." Irish singer O'Sullivan had an unusual image in the early '70s, performing in an outfit of pants and a flat cap. With his pudding-bowl haircut, he resembled a Depression-era street urchin. Around the time of the release of "Alone Again (Naturally)," he switched his outfit in favor of an endless series of collegiate-styled sweaters embossed with the letter "G".
"Lean On Me" by Bill Withers
(#1 last week; 3rd week at #1) Withers did not record his first song until he was 32 years old. He was in the US Navy for 9 years, then worked at a factory making parts for airplanes. This song has a very broad appeal, as people from just about any background can relate to the lyrics. It was a hit on a variety of formats and did well all over the US and throughout much of the world. Says Withers:
"It's a rural song that translates across demographic lines. Who could argue with the fact that it would be nice to have somebody who really was that way? My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South, there were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way."