February 10, 2016
#2 – Eagles – “Take It Easy” – (1972)
The first single from the Eagles’ first album should have been a sure sign to everyone that this band was going to be something else. It remains one of their most beloved songs and would probably be their signature tune if “Hotel California” wasn’t a thing. It was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey (who sings the vocals on this track). And pretty much ever fan of the Eagles’ can sing more than just the opening lines of this one…
February 8, 2016
#3 – Al Green – “Love and Happiness” – (1972)
Al Green’s best work? Perhaps. You can’t argue against the organ and the horns or that voice – ever. It might be the best soul song ever recorded. It came from Al Green’s 1972 album I’m Still in Love With You but wasn’t released as a single in the U.S. until 1977 – but had better performance on the charts in ’72. Which is weird.
February 5, 2016
#4 – Steely Dan – “Do It Again” – (1972)
Steely Dan’s crowning achievement, “Do It Again” peaked at #6 and from the opening percussion you know that this is going to be a funky soft rock smash. This song exemplifies the unique sound Steely Dan always managed to achieve with their work. It’s unlike any other artist out there and I don’t want to say they peaked early, but this is hard to top.
February 3, 2016
#5 – The Staple Singers – “I’ll Take You There” – (1972)
“I know a place…” This is one of the best soul songs ever. A #1 hit, it spent 15 weeks on the chart and was the best song The Staple Singers ever did (although they would have another #1 later on). It’s just so smooth… you don’t get this kind of smooth quality to music today.
February 1, 2016
#6 – Yes – “Roundabout” – (1971)
It always amazes me that this song was released as early as it was (1971 in the U.K., 1972 in the U.S.). It seems like something that would’ve come much later. But that bassline… if you’ve ever wondered “how do I make my bass the integral part of a song” – this. This is how you do that. It’s a pretty long song, but it’s one of Yes’ best-known works.
January 29, 2016
#7 – The Doobie Brothers – “Listen to the Music” – (1972)
This was the breakthrough hit for The Doobie Brothers. It’s an absolute classic and their best song (although some of the later, blue-eyed soul stuff they did with Michael McDonald is wonderfully melodious). This track (which is a little Southern-sounding) made it to #11 on the Hot 100.
January 27, 2016
#8 – Chicago – “Saturday In The Park” – (1972)
Here is one of Chicago’s best songs. It was their biggest hit at the time, peaking at #3 and propelling their album, Chicago V, to #1. This was the only song of note from this album. The opening piano riff here is quite famous and then the horns kick in and take you away.
January 25, 2016
#9 – Arlo Guthrie – “City of New Orleans” – (1972)
Arlo Guthrie, folk music royalty, released his best song in 1972. It’s actually a cover of a song by Steve Goodman, which was released the year before. It’s about a train going from Chicago to New Orleans and it was a top 20 hit for Guthrie – his biggest. It’s great.
January 22, 2016
#10 – Jim Croce – “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” – (1972)
This was Jim Croce’s second single from his third album – an album that went to #1 and had some of Croce’s best songs. This song peaked at #17 and is one of his best known hits, still receiving airplay today. It’s about a guy talking to a telephone operator, trying to track down an ex… something people don’t do anymore.
January 20, 2016
#11 – Loggins & Messina – “Danny’s Song” – (1971)
Ga! I was doing so well, every song up to this point had actually been from 1972. But this album came out in late 1971 and so did this single. This song was written by Kenny Loggins and recorded by another band before he and Jim Messina put it on their awesome album Sittin’ In – which was supposed to be a Loggins solo album but producer Jim Messina kept providing backing vocals and guitar work and they teamed up and ended up rivaling Seals & Crofts for the crown of soft rock duo kings.
January 18, 2016
#12 – Looking Glass – “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” – (1972)
We can safely call the Looking Glass as a one-hit wonder as this Billboard #1 hit was far and away their largest hit. The song is about a female bartender in a Northeast port town who waits for her man to return from the sea. It’s soft rock perfected.
January 15, 2016
#13 – Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain” – (1972)
“You’re so Vain” has more legend around it than nearly any other song I can think of. She’s always said she’d never tell who it was about but only recently has she said that it is about three different people, with one of them being Warren Beatty. She’s claimed that it is definitely not about James Taylor… but who the other two people are remain a mystery. Carly has had other hits, but this is what she will always be known for.
January 13, 2016
#14 – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – “Treat Her Like a Lady” – (1972)
This single came out in 1971 but the album came out the following summer. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose were made up of brothers Carter and Eddie Cornelius and their sister Rose. The fourth member is their other sister Billie Jo that joined the group in ’72. This was their first single and, while not their biggest hit, it just might be their best.
January 11, 2016
#15 – Bill Withers – “Lean On Me” – (1972)
Sorry if this one seems a little low on the list. Considered by some to be one of the greatest songs of all time, “Lean on Me” was a #1 hit for Bill Withers in the summer of ’72. Written by Withers, this song would be covered by Club Nouveau in the late 1980s and would again reach #1.
January 8, 2016
#16 – Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show – “Cover of the Rolling Stone” – (1972)
Songs like this really aren’t made anymore. It’s a pop rock song that borders on novelty record status. It was written by Shel Silverstein and is about being a rock star and appearing on, well, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. But, the song is written from the perspective of someone who hasn’t made it yet… which is kind of ironic as this song ended up in the top ten. The band did make it on the cover in 1973 (although it was illustrated).
January 6, 2016
#17 – Seals & Crofts– “Summer Breeze” – (1972)
Jim Seals and Darrell Crofts were two kings of soft rock in the 1970s. This one is their finest work and it’s been covered many times. Weird fact, their three biggest hits (this included) all peaked at #6 on the Hot 100. Every summer we do a “songs for summer” countdown of basically newer music. This song would fit perfectly on any of those lists.
January 4, 2016
#18 – Stevie Wonder – “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” – (1972)
Talking Book is one of Stevie Wonder’s greatest albums, producing two #1 singles, including this one. This was also a Grammy Award-winner and remains one of Stevie’s top tracks.
January 1, 2016
#19 – Gallery – “Nice To Be With You” – (1972)
Gallery, of Detroit, was a one-hit wonder with this #4 hit on the Hot 100. It was the longest-charting single of 1972 and it’s one of those songs from one-hit wonder bands of this era that received heavy airplay on “Oldies”-format radio stations over the past 20 years, although, sadly, it’s quickly becoming one of the oldest songs you can still find on FM radio.
December 30, 2015
#20 – Paul Simon – “Mother and Child Reunion” – (1972)
This song, which hit #4 in the U.S., has a weird reggae element to it and Paul Simon has said that the title comes from a chicken and egg dish on a restaurant menu. Which is a little disturbing, but darkly hilarious. This was Simon’s second solo album and this is one of two amazing songs from it. That reggae bit, though, gives this one the edge.
December 28, 2015
#21 – The Rolling Stones – “Tumbling Dice” – (1972)
I originally had another song here but turns out it came out in 1970 so I had to replace it. And then I realized that Exile on Main St wasn’t represented and it’s considered on of the greatest albums of all time. It came down to this and “Let it Loose.” Both songs have an amazing bluesy feel and this one was just more popular (and is more upbeat). It was a top 10 hit in the U.S. and the U.K. and is a prime example of what the Stones could do when firing on all cylinders.
December 25, 2015
Gene Autry – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – (1949)
Gene Autry made a career off of novelty records. Sure, he was the singing cowboy but his Christmas songs are what stood the test of time. Autry didn’t write this song (it was written in 1939) but his version is what made it a song sung in every household. In fact, this song was a #1 hit. Interestingly, this was the only #1 hit to fall completely off the charts from the top spot – a dubious honor, but understandable considering its content and timeliness. Merry Christmas.
December 23, 2015
Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – “Mele Kalikimaka” – (1950)
You don’t have to Hawaiian to appreciate this song. Bing is crooning in his classic style and The Andrews Sisters are great too. It really takes you back to this era when Hawaii was still sort of a new phenomenon. But this song is perfect for any Christmas when you’re under palm trees and near an ocean. Many people have since recorded this but this version remains the best.
December 21, 2015
Da Yoopers – “Rusty Chevrolet” – (1987)
Radio stations used to play this. Nothing quite says “The Midwest” like a parody Christmas song sung in a heavy Northern Michigan accent. Nothing also says “The Midwest” like saying: I remember how hilarious this was when I was younger and it’s one of those parodies that kids pick up on and find hilarious to sing in place of the real version of “Jingle Bells.”
December 18, 2015
Mannheim Steamroller – “Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing” – (1988)
Yes, this sounds like church music. It’s the opening track to Mannheim Steamroller’s 1988 Fresh Aire Christmas – one of the best-selling Holiday albums of all time. This is little more than a prelude to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
December 16, 2015
The Beach Boys – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1964)
Gotta love the Beach Boys. They were able to define summer and winter. There are many version of this song, but this is among the best. Why? Because of those vocals! Plus, Christmas music from the 1950s and 1960s is just better. There’s no denying that. And like every Beach Boys song, this song is short – coming in under two minutes.