Playlist of my life: 1972

Ah 1972.  What a great year that was.  Or so I assume, but truly I have no idea.  I was one.  What did I know? I suppose the most I can say with honesty is that I survived it.

Other than a few music boxes and perhaps one of those musical pull toys, I suspect that I did not listen to a whole lot of music.  I did not grow up in a musical family.  We only listened to music in the house on special occasions, like Christmas, and we only sang in church.  The “favorite music” page in my baby book is blank.

This gives me great license to fill in the early 70s, the years before I have actual memories of music, with songs that capture that era for me.  In this I have been strongly influenced by movie soundtracks and oldies radio.  Looking over the Billboard Top 100 for 1972, there are a number of songs that stand out as place-setting songs — they tell you that the movie you are watching is set in the 70s, or that the radio station is doing an “all 70s” weekend.  American Pie.  I Can See Clearly Now.  I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.  Anything by the Carpenters.

The song I’ve picked for 1972 is You Don’t Mess Around with Jim by Jim Croce. I picked it for three reasons. First, it’s a great song to sing. I remember singing it in the car with my friend F on the way to the pool one summer (the car was an awesome brownish-gold Cadillac convertible with giant fins that belonged to F’s mom). Second, I am extremely fond of songs that tell stories, especially if they have a bit of bleakness to them. That same summer, I talked at length with F about how poignant it is when Slim shoots Jim and found it impossible to convey the depth of my feeling to her. Third, Croce’s mustache should be a national monument. My Dad had a voluminous 1970s mustache when I was a little girl, and his mustache could only dream of one day growing up and holding Jim Croce’s mustache’s coat. Jim Croce’s mustache, his down-to-earth looks, his un-ironic work shirts, his stage presence, and his accidental music career, all come from a time before MTV, when music could come blasting out of the radio and there was no Internet full of publicity photos and myspace pages and constant exposure mediating it for me (just record companies, DJs, middle-men and concert promoters).

For me, as a little girl, this song came out of nowhere and explained something to me about the world — about how context, setting and experience matter, and about how a person’s circumstances might shape their behavior regardless of her or his own character, personality, attitudes and skills. That’s what I was trying to explain to F.

Do you have a favorite song or music-related memory from 1972? Share it in the comments!

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Posted on June 2nd, 2011 by Katxena