“Me and Mrs. Jones” is a 1972 soul song written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, and originally recorded by Billy Paul. It describes an extramarital affair between a man and his lover, Mrs. Jones. In the song, following the opening mention of the title, the next line says: “We’ve got a thing going on”. The singer meets Mrs Jones at the same place, at the same cafe at the same time, where they are holding hands and chatting. Both the singer and Mrs Jones acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong, and that they must be extra careful by keeping their secrets from each other.
“I Am Woman” is a song written by Australian-American artist Helen Reddy and singer-songwriter Ray Burton and performed by Reddy. The first recording of the song appeared on Reddy’s debut album I Don’t Know How to Love Him, released in May 1971, and was heard during the closing credits for the 1972 film Stand Up and Be Counted. A new recording of the song was released as a single in May 1972 and became a number one hit later that year, eventually selling over one million copies. The song came near the apex of the counterculture era and, by celebrating female empowerment, became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement.
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a psychedelic soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971. This version of “Papa” was released as a single in early 1972 and peaked at #63 on the Pop Charts and #24 on the R&B Charts, and was included on The Truth’s 1973 album Law of the Land.
Later that year, Whitfield, who also produced the song, took “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and remade it as a 12-minute record for The Temptations, which was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards in 1973. While the original Undisputed Truth version of the song has been largely forgotten, The Temptations’ version of the song has been an enduring and influential soul classic. It was ranked number 168 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, one of the group’s three songs on the list. In retrospect, The Temptations’ Otis Williams considers “Papa” to be the last real classic the group recorded (it would be the Temptations’ last number one hit and would win them their second and final Grammy Award in a competitive category).
“I Can See Clearly Now” is a song written and recorded by Johnny Nash. It was a single from the album of the same name and achieved success in the United States and the United Kingdom when it was released in 1972, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was covered by many artists throughout the years, including a 1993 hit version by Jimmy Cliff, who re-recorded it for the motion picture soundtrack of Cool Runnings, where it reached the top 20 at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“My Ding-a-Ling” is the title of a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. In 1972 it was covered by Chuck Berry and became Berry’s only U.S. number-one single on the pop charts. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Two members of the Average White Band, guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh, played on the single. Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator played bass on the track.
“My Ding-a-Ling” was originally recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952 for King Records. When Bartholomew moved to Imperial Records, he re-recorded the song under the new title, “Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling”. In 1954, The Bees on Imperial released a version entitled “Toy Bell”. Berry recorded a version called “My Tambourine” in 1968, but the version which topped the charts was recorded live during the Lanchester Arts Festival at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry, England, on 3 February 1972, where Berry – backed by The Roy Young Band – topped a bill that also included Slade, George Carlin and Billy Preston. Boston radio station WMEX disc jockey Jim Connors was credited with a gold record for discovering the song and pushing it to #1 over the airwaves and amongst his peers in the United States. Billboard ranked it as the No. 15 song for 1972.
“Ben” is a song written by Don Black and composed by Walter Scharf for the 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat film Willard). It was performed in the film by Lee Montgomery and by Michael Jackson over the closing credits. Jackson’s single, recorded for the Motown label in 1972, spent one week at the top of the U.S. pop chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song for 1972. It also reached number-one on the Australian pop chart, spending eight weeks at the top spot. The song also later reached a peak of number seven on the British pop chart.
“Ben” won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973, losing to “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony. The song was Jackson’s first U.S. #1 solo hit.
“Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me” is a hit song by country and pop singer-songwriter Mac Davis. From his breakthrough album of the same name, the song reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in September 1972, spending three weeks atop each chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 8 song of 1972. He wrote the song when the record company demanded he write a tune with a “hook”.
The song was also a modest country hit concurrent with its pop success, reaching number 26 shortly after the peak of its pop success. The “Nashville Edition” provided backing vocals.
“Black and White” is a song written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson.
The most successful recording of the song was the pop version by Three Dog Night in 1972, when it reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Easy Listening charts. Billboard ranked it as the No. 63 song for 1972. This was one of the few hits for Three Dog Night on which Danny Hutton sang the lead vocals.
Earl Robinson’s recording was released on the Folkways album A Walk in the Sun (and Other Songs and Ballads); the title refers to the song written for the 1945 film A Walk in the Sun.
The song was inspired by the United States Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation of public schools. It was first recorded by Pete Seeger in 1956, followed by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1957. The original lyrics of the song opened with this verse, in reference to the court:
Their robes were black, Their heads were white,
The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight,
Nine judges all set down their names,
To end the years and years of shame.
Reggae groups The Maytones, from Jamaica, and Greyhound, from the UK, both recorded the song in 1971, the latter achieving a UK top ten hit. Having heard the Greyhound version, which did not include the verse describing the court, Three Dog Night included the song in their 1972 album Seven Separate Fools. This version of the song peaked at number one on the U.S. pop chart on September 16, 1972, and topped the easy listening chart on October 7. Billboard ranked it as the No. 63 song for 1972.
“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” is a 1972 pop song written and composed by Elliot Lurie and recorded by Lurie’s band, Looking Glass, on their debut album Looking Glass. The single reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts, remaining in the top position for one week. Billboard ranked it as the 12th biggest song of 1972. Horns and strings were arranged by Larry Fallon.
The lyrics tell of Brandy, a barmaid in a port town. She falls in love with a sailor who gives her a locket that bears his name. In the end, Brandy is left in love with “a man who’s not around.” Brandy may have been based on Mary Ellis (1750–1828), a spinster in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
“Alone Again (Naturally)” is a song by English-Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan. It was released in 1972 at the same time as (but not on) the album, Back to Front. In total, the single spent six weeks, non-consecutively, at #1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1972. In Casey Kasem’s American ‘Top 40 of the 1970s’, “Alone Again (Naturally)” ranked as the fifth most-popular song of the decade (Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” was #1). “Alone Again (Naturally)” also spent six weeks at number one on the Easy Listening chart. The track reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart.
The song is also featured in the films Under The Skin, The Virgin Suicides, Osmosis Jones, Stuart Little 2, Stuck on You, Lost Islands, Megamind, and Love, Rosie.
“Lean on Me” is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. It was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill. It was his first and only number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked it as the No. 7 song of 1972. It is ranked number 205 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Numerous cover versions have been recorded, and it is one of only nine songs to have reached No. 1 with versions recorded by two different artists.
“Song Sung Blue” is a 1972 hit song written and recorded by Neil Diamond, inspired by the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21. The song was released on Diamond’s album, Moods and later appeared on many of Diamond’s live and compilation albums.
It was his second No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, after 1970’s “Cracklin’ Rosie”, and to date his last. The song spent twelve weeks in the Top 40. In addition, “Song Sung Blue” spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart. In addition, the song made the pop chart in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart. The song has become one of Diamond’s standards, and he often performs this song during concerts.
“Song Sung Blue” was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1973, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Both awards that year were won by Roberta Flack’s rendition of Ewan MacColl’s song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”.
Diamond described “Song Sung Blue” in the liner notes to his 1996 compilation album, In My Lifetime, as a “very basic message, unadorned. I didn’t even write a bridge to it. I never expected anyone to react to “Song Sung Blue” the way they did. I just like it, the message and the way a few words said so many things.”
The song inspired the title of a 2008 documentary about a Neil Diamond impersonator who was married to a Patsy Cline impersonator.
“The Candy Man” (or alternatively, “The Candy Man Can”) is a song which originally appeared in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the film. Although the original book by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) contains lyrics adapted for other songs in the film, the lyrics to “The Candy Man” do not appear in the book. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.
“I’ll Take You There” is a song written by Al Bell (using his real name Alvertis Isbell), and originally performed by soul/gospel family band The Staple Singers. The Staple Singers version, produced by Bell, was released on Stax Records in February 1972, and spent a total of fifteen weeks on the charts and reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song also was a significant chart hit in two later cover versions. A 1991 cover version by BeBe & CeCe Winans, with Mavis Staples featured as a guest artist, made it to number one on the R&B chart, and also made No. 90 on the Hot 100. In 1994, the British band General Public released a cover of “I’ll Take You There” which peaked at No. 22 on Hot 100. As well, female rap trio Salt-N-Pepa sampled “I’ll Take You There” in their 1991 hit “Let’s Talk About Sex”.
“Oh Girl” is a single recorded by the soul vocal group, The Chi-Lites and released on Brunswick Records in 1972. Included on the group’s 1972 album A Lonely Man, “Oh Girl” centers on a relationship on the verge of break-up. The narrator, portrayed by the song’s author Eugene Record, expresses concern that the break-up may prove unbearable for him (“Oh girl/I’d be in trouble if you left me now/’Cause I don’t know where to look for love/I just don’t know how”), while knowing that staying will be no better (“I could save myself a lot of useless tears/Girl I’ve got to get away from here”; “Better be on my way, I can’t stay here”).
“Oh Girl” was the Chi-Lites’ first and only number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at that position in May 1972 for one week. The single also reached the top position of the Billboard R&B Singles chart the following month, remaining in that position for two weeks. Billboard ranked it as the No. 13 song for 1972. In addition, it reached number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart in July 1972.
The song prominently features a harmonica.
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who later became his wife, to sing. At the time the couple were lovers, although MacColl was married to someone else. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain. During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack in 1972, winning the Grammy Awards for Record and Song of the Year. Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song of the year for 1972.
“A Horse with No Name” is a song written by Dewey Bunnell, and originally recorded by the band America. It was the band’s first and most successful single, released in late 1971 in Europe and early 1972 in the US, and topping the charts in several countries. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
America’s self-titled debut album was released initially in Europe with only moderate success and without the song “A Horse with No Name”. “A Horse with No Name” was originally called “Desert Song” and was written while the band was staying at the home studio of Arthur Brown (not the British singer), in Puddletown, Dorset. The first two demos were recorded there, by Jeff Dexter and Dennis Elliott, and were intended to capture the feel of the hot, dry desert that had been depicted at the studio from a Salvador Dalí painting, and the strange horse that had ridden out of an M.C. Escher picture. Writer Dewey Bunnell also says he remembered his childhood travels through the Arizona and New Mexico desert when his family lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Trying to find a song that would be popular in both the United States and Europe, Warner Bros. was reticent about releasing Beckley’s “I Need You” ballad as the first single from America. The label asked the band if they had any other material, then arranged for them to record four more songs at Morgan Studios, Willesden in London. “A Horse with No Name” was released as the featured song on a three-track single in the UK, Ireland, France, Italy and the Netherlands in late 1971. On the release “A Horse with No Name” shared the A-side with “Everyone I Meet Is from California”; “Sandman” featured on the B-side. However, its early-1972 two-track US release did not include “Sandman”, with “Everyone I Meet Is from California” appearing on the B-side.
“Heart of Gold” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young. Released from the 1972 album Harvest, it is so far Young’s only U.S. No. 1 single. In Canada, it reached No. 1 on the RPM national singles chart for the first time on April 8, 1972, on which date Young held the top spot on both the singles and albums charts. Billboard ranked it as the No. 17 song for 1972. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 297 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
“Without You” is a song written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger, and first released on their 1970 album No Dice. The song has been recorded by over 180 artists, and versions released as singles by Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994) became international best-sellers. Paul McCartney once described the ballad as “the killer song of all time”.
In 1972, writers Ham and Evans received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
“Let’s Stay Together” is a song by American singer Al Green from his 1972 album of the same name. It was produced and recorded by Willie Mitchell, and mixed by Mitchell and Terry Manning. Released as a single in 1971, “Let’s Stay Together” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained on the chart for 16 weeks and also topped Billboard’s R&B chart for nine weeks. Billboard ranked it as the number 11 song of 1972.
It was ranked the sixtieth greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
It was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, which selects recordings annually that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The song went on to claim the number-one position on the Billboard Year-End chart as an R&B song for 1972.
“American Pie” is a song by American folk rock singer and songwriter Don McLean. Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972. In the UK, the single reached No. 2 on its original 1972 release and a reissue in 1991 reached No. 12. The song was listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA project Songs of the Century. The song was covered by Madonna in 2000 and reached No. 1 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Don McLean began writing the song in upstate Saratoga Springs at Caffe Lena, according to local lore. He continued to write in Cold Spring, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The song made its debut in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s University when he opened for Laura Nyro on March 14, 1971.
“Brand New Key” is a pop song written and sung by folk music singer Melanie (Melanie Safka-Schekeryk), which became a novelty success during 1971–72. Initially a track of Melanie’s album Gather Me, it was known also as “The Rollerskate Song” due to its chorus. It was her greatest success, scoring No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during December 1971 and January 1972. Billboard ranked it as the No. 9 song of 1972. It also scored No. 1 in Canada and Australia and No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart. Melanie’s version of the song was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights as well as the 2010 movie Jackass 3D and an episode of Helix.
The single was produced by Melanie’s husband, Peter Schekeryk.