Wednesday, April 26, 1972

Alice Cooper “School’s Out” released

School’s Out

Alice Cooper

Writer(s): Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith (see lyrics here)

Released: April 26, 1972

First Charted: May 27, 1972

Peak: 7 US, 6 CB, 7 HR, 1 CL, 13 UK, 3 CN, 39 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.2 video, 117.46 streaming


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About the Song:

“Four years after Frank Zappa realized there was something special about Alice Cooper, signing them to his record label, the title track from the band’s 1972 album School’s Out sent the group to the head of the class. Decades later, it still easily aces our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs entrance exam.” UCR

“’School’s Out’ itself is a masterpiece of full on rock and roll. Three and a half minutes of pure loud guitar bliss, with Alice (the man) in full power of his gritty, made-for-rock and roll voice. From the opening call to arms guitar riff through to the cheering school kids at the end, it’s a celebration put to wax.” UCR

“Wisely released just as school was letting out across America, the single hit the Top 10 in June of 1972 and would carry the album all the way to No. 2. The song proved to be an even bigger hit in England, where it shot to No. 1 and made Alice Cooper an sensation. The ever-present controversy surrounding Alice Cooper didn’t hurt. The group’s on-stage use of snakes, hangings, guillotines and a pervading dark, perverse sense of humor made their show a must-see attraction early on.” UCR

“The release of the School’s Out album itself was not without its share of headlines as the initial run was packaged with paper panties in lieu of a sleeve. Turns out, the panties were flammable and had to be recalled. Naysayers howled: Who was this sick Alice Cooper and why were young kids buying a record with panties in it? Of course, this was back when parents would genuinely get upset by such things. Ahh, those were the days!” UCR


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First posted 7/23/2022.

Monday, April 17, 1972

Neil Young “Old Man” released

Old Man

Neil Young

Writer(s): Neil Young (see lyrics here)

Released: April 17, 1972

First Charted: April 28, 1972

Peak: 31 BB, 26 CB, 27 GR, 33 HR, 4 CL, 4 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 94.5 video, -- streaming


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About the Song:

Rock singer/songwriter Neil Young was born in 1945 in Toronto. He rose to fame as a member of Buffalo Springfield and also worked with Crosby, Stills & Nash on their 1970 classic Déjà Vu before releasing his own critical and commercial peak with Harvest, his fourth solo album.

Most of the attention was focused on “Heart of Gold,” Young’s only #1 song. It was considered a significant song in the singer/songwriter movement of the 1970s and a prime example of folk rock at its best. However, the album also featured gems such as “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Old Man.”

The latter was written about an old caretaker Louis Avila on Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch in California. Young said, “Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there’s this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, ‘Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?’ And I said, ‘Well, just lucky, Louis, just really lucky.’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s the darndedest thing I ever heard.’ And I wrote this song for him.” WK

The song compared an old man and young man’s life, showing how the older man used to be like the younger one and that they largely have the same needs. Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor both sang on the song; Taylor also played a six-string banjo tuned like a guitar. WK They also sang on “Heart of Gold.” Ronstadt said, “I thought they were such beautiful songs. I loved them…I don’t think we started until midnight and it was dawn when we came out out…It was really exciting. I just thought I’ve been part of something really wonderful.” SF

The song has been used and performed in many settings. One of the most notable was a cover of the song by Beck in 2022 to promote a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccanneers and Kansas City Chiefs. It was a nod to 45-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, the oldest player in the league, vs. the young QB phenom Patrick Mahomes. Both won Super Bowls at 24 years old, making for a perfect reference to the line in the song “24 and there’s so much more.” WK It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance.


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First posted 2/14/2024.

Saturday, April 15, 1972

Roberta Flack hit #1 with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Roberta Flack

Writer(s): Ewan MacColl (see lyrics here)

Released: June 20, 1969 as album cut on First Take

First Charted: March 4, 1972

Peak: 16 US, 14 CB, 15 GR< 15 HR, 16 AC, 4 RB, 14 UK, 13 CN, 12 AU, 5 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 32.66 video, 88.81 streaming


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About the Song:

In 1957, Ewan MacColl, a Scottish political singer/songwriter wrote this folk song for his future wife, Peggy Seeger. According to him, she called him needing a song for a romantic scene in a play. He wrote it in less than an hour. Then he called her and taught it to her over the phone. RC She, however, said he sent her tapes to listen to and this song was one one. WK

The Kingston Trio covered the song for their 1962 album New Frontier. Other versions were recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary; the Brothers Four; Joe & Eddie; the Chad Mitchell Trio; and Gordon Lightfoot. WK Johnny Cash, Isaac Hayes, Leona Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Mel Torme have also covered the song. According to MacColl’s daughter, Ewan hated all of them, saying they “were travesties, bludgeoning, histrionic, and lacking in grace.” WK

Roberta Flack heard the 1963 Joe & Eddie version when she was teaching at Washington DC’s Banneker Junior High School and taught it the girls in the Glee Club. SF She performed the song, a much slower version than the original, regularly at the Pennsylvania Avenue club Mr. Henry’s. SF When she signed with Atlantic Records, this was one of the songs she chose to record for her 1969 debut album First Take. She recorded two more albums before the song became a hit. Clint Eastwood called her about using the song in a love scene for Clint Eastwood’s movie Play Misty for Me. After people saw the movie and hit the record stores to buy the song, Atlantic Records released the two-year-old song as a single. FB

It took only six weeks to reach #1, where it then spent six weeks. It was the longest chart-topper for a solo female artist since 1956’s “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant. The song won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.


First posted 3/11/2021; last updated 1/31/2024.

Friday, April 14, 1972

Elton John “Rocket Man” released

Rocket Man (I Think It’s Gonna Be a Long Time)

Elton John

Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin (see lyrics here)

Released: April 14, 1972

First Charted: April 22, 1972

Peak: 6 US, 11 CB, 5 GR, 6 HR, 39 AC, 1 CL, 2 UK, 8 CN, 13 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 1.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 141.9 video, 910.87 streaming


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About the Song:

Honky Château was Elton John’s fourth top-10 album in the United States and first in a run of six platinum-selling chart-toppers. The album was preceded by lead single “Rocket Man,” which became Elton John’s second top-10 hit in both the United States and UK.

The song traversed similar territory to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” released three years earlier. Both songs were “about a lonely dude drifting through space,” UCR but Bernie Taupin, who wrote the words to Elton’s song, said it wasn’t an influence. Instead, he said he was inspired by the short story “The Rocket Man” in the 1951 anthology The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. The story “is told from the perspective of a child, whose astronaut father has mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job.” SF

That story also inspired the 1970 song “Rocket Man” by Pearls Before Swine, which Taupin acknowledged as an influence. That song took the perspective of “a child [who] can no longer look at the stars after his astronaut father perishes in space. SF Taupin shaped a story of “a man who is sent to live in space as part of a scientific experiment.” SF The Mars-bound astronaut is conflicted about leaving home. Taupin “emphasize the personal over the sci-fi” UCR with lyrics about the astronaut’s wife packing his bags and how Mars isn’t the kind of place to raise your kids. The song has also been interpreted as a commentary on “how rock stars are isolated…from the real world.” SF “John’s melody underscores the words with a melancholy, wistful tone, while the production brings in a light element of futuristic sheen, never abandoning that fragile, perfect melody.” UCR

Kate Bush, who recorded the song for the 1991 Two Rooms tribute album to John and Taupin, said this is her favorite song of all time. She said, “I remember buying this when it came out as a single…I couldn’t stop playing it – I loved it so much. Most artists in the mid seventies played guitar but Elton played piano and I dreamed of being able to play like him.” SF


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First posted 7/23/2022; last updated 7/13/2023.