1972 #1 hits: Watergate break-in

“I headed for the ditch”

I’ve been writing a lot about 1972 in 2022. 1972 was the year that Richard Nixon went to China, in February. The Watergate break-in was in June. Yet, in November, Nixon was overwhelmingly re-elected, much to my distress at the time.

I have the vast majority of these hits of 1972, on vinyl or compact discs. But I was not a singles buyer. All of these songs were gold records except the ones marked *. I suspect the lack of the designation is a function of the record companies not submitting the paperwork.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack, six weeks at #1 – one of the best covers ever, especially if you’ve heard the Ewan MacColl version
Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan, six weeks at #1

American Pie, Parts I and II – Don McLean, four weeks at #1. We sang this at my high school reunion last year
Without You – Nilsson, four weeks at #1. Despite my basic cynicism of romance songs at the time, I was a sucker for this one
I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash. four weeks at #1. there are two songs that made me feel hopeful during the pandemic, and both are on this list

Group named after Vespucci

A Horse With No Name – America, three weeks at #1. Before this became a hit, this group played at SUNY New Paltz for fifty cents admission. I didn’t go, alas.
Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me – Mac Davis, three weeks at #1
Me and Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul, three weeks at #1. A great early Philadelphia International/Gamble and Huff track
The Candy Man – Sammy Davis Jr. with the Mike Curb Congregation, three weeks at #1. NOT my favorite song
Lean On Me – Bill Withers. This is the other inspirational song. Unfortunately, both Nash and Withers died in 2020.

My Ding-A-Ling – Chuck Berry, two weeks at #1. His ONLY #1 hit, and one of the WORST #1 songs ever.

One week at #1

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
Let’s Stay Together  – Al Green. Ah, cousin Al. (He’s not really my cousin, but I used to say that a lot. He was actually born Albert Greene, but sensibly dropped the last letter.)
I Am Woman – Helen Reddy. ANTHEM
*I’ll Take You ThereStaple Singers. I SO love this song and this group
Heart Of Gold – Neil Young. In the liner notes from the compilation album Decade: “This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.”

Oh Girl – Chi-Lites
Ben – Michael Jackson. If you don’t think about the song being about a pet rat…
*Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – the Temptations. Read the intro to this post
Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond
Black and White – Three Dog Night. I wrote about the history of this song here


February 1972: sectioning; draft number

Gene Hackman

PunchcardSome notes from my diaries.

Monday, Jan 31 – My father drove me to the bus station. I took the 9:45 a.m. bus from Binghamton back to Poughkeepsie. (For reasons unclear, I actually taped the Shortline bus ticket to my diary page.) To my surprise, the brother of my high school girlfriend was onboard, visiting his sister in part to borrow money for a motorcycle. I must admit that I took some small pleasure over the fact that he doesn’t like her new beau.

It’s a slow trip, changing buses in Monticello, and then stopping in Newburgh. My bus was supposed to arrive at about 1 p.m. but was two hours late. My girlfriend (the Okie) wasn’t at the station to pick me up. So my ex kindly dropped me off at New Paltz. [BTW, she remembers this; I did not.] It turns out the Okie’s car was inoperable. I didn’t see her until late the following day.

Tuesday, Feb 1 – While waiting for the Okie, Uthaclena, our friend/Okie’s roommate Alice and I turned off the lights and listened to a weird record of Uthaclena’s about the zodiac. Bruce, the resident advisor, came in, thinking we were up to something.

Groundhog Day

Wednesday, Feb 2 – I had to register for classes, in a process they called sectioning. I got into Intro to Black Studies, Basic Economics 2, and European Politics and Government easily enough. But the freshmen always get what hasn’t been closed out by the upperclassfolk. So Intro to Sociology was my third choice. I also got closed out of one General Anthropology course, and Intro to Philosophy, and had to take an 8 a.m. General Anthro class. The process took about 80 minutes, 20 minutes longer than the previous semester.

[As I recall, there were boxes with IBM punch cards, and when the number of cards designated was depleted, you knew you were out of luck.]

My friend Uthaclena and I were sitting in the dorm lounge when Fred came with the draft numbers. Uthaclena and some others had high draft numbers [which meant they were highly unlikely to be drafted]. But Fred got 23, and I got 2! Lengthy conversations about the implication and the options ensued.

[In an odd quirk, March 6 was 1, and March 7 was 2. My friend Karen wrote to me days later indicating that if I were going to get a low number, why not #1?!]

Six of us went in my roommate Ron’s car to see The French Connection in Poughkeepsie at the Juliet Theatre [which I know because I have the ticket stub – the admission was $2]. I had been worried about the violence, based on previews, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. We then stopped at the Plaza Diner.

The songs on WABC were particularly resonating with me:
Get Together – The Youngbloods, one of the very few singles I ever purchased. I still have it.
Dedicated To The One I Love – The Mamas and The Papas
Without You – Nilsson

Eventually, I went to sleep listening to Chicago [II], side three.

Not incidentally, there’s a LOT more detail that I shan’t be sharing.

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