Songs from High School

(Compiled by Wayne Emmer)

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During our Senior year in high school, the music world saw a terrific growth of talent and sounds.  Solo acts and groups such as the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, ZZ Top, Elton John, Chicago, The Eagles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were just starting their creative years.  R&B, Soul and Country saw similar talent expansion.  Sly and the Family Stone, The Tempations, and Charlie Pride were acts that were on the scene.  Below is a graphic of rock albums that will turn 50 in 2022.

 

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So, how do we sort the music of 50 years ago?  Let's start with the weekly Billboard 100 chart toppers from July 1971 to July 1972

 

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1971

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I Feel the Earth Move
I Feel the Earth Move

July 16 - Counting down the hits to July 16, 1972 (move over Casey Kasem).  Carol King, the powerhouse, was at #1 in the charts.  This was her 5th week in the top spot.  A favorite of Marge Willms (Packee), Lon Derosier (Yolanda Bautista), David Scardino and Diana Wiza (Fons).

Indian Reservation
Indian Reservation

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July 24 - After 5 weeks atop the charts, Carol King was toppled from the #1 position by this song.  

You've Got a Friend
You've Got a Friend

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July 31 - James Taylor scores his first #1 hit on the Billboard 100 list with "You've Got a Friend" (written by Carol King).

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

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August 7 - The Bee Gees begin a 4 week run in the #1 position with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”. It was their first hit atop the charts and was the #5 hit overall for 1971.

Joy to the World
Joy to the World

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Here is "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night which rose to the top of the charts earlier in the year.  Written by Hoyt Axton, this song was the #1 hit overall for 1971.

Uncle Albert
Uncle Albert

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September 4 - Ending the Bee Gees' 4-week run, here is Paul McCartney's first #1 hit as a solo artist (with wife Linda).  This is "Uncle Albert".

Go Away Little Girl
Go Away Little Girl

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September 11 - Donnie Osmond moves to the top spot with "Go Away Little Girl".  Written by Carol King, it was previously recorded by Bobby Vee and Steve Lawrence.  It was the first song to reach #1 by two recording artists (Lawrence).

Maggie May
Maggie May

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October 2 - Rod Stewart knocks Donnie Osmond out of the top spot with "Maggie May".  It is Stewart's first #1 hit and, with its "B" side hit, held the top spot for 5 weeks.  It ended 1971 as the number 2 song(s) overall.

Reason to Believe
Reason to Believe

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October 9 - Rod Stewart keeps the #1 spot with "Reason to Believe" - the "B" side song to "Maggie May".  This combo held the top spot for 5 weeks and ended the year at #2 overall behind "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night.

Gypsy's, Tramps and Thieves
Gypsy's, Tramps and Thieves

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November 6 - A new #1 atop the charts with Cher's "Gypsy's, Tramps and Thieves".  It was her first #1 hit as a solo artist and she held that spot for two weeks.

Theme from Shaft
Theme from Shaft

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November 20 - We have a new #1 with Isaac Hayes and the "Theme from Shaft".  It remained there for two weeks.  Patty Nesbit (Carter) saw Isaac Hayes perform at Summerfest when this was #1.  

Family Affair
Family Affair

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December 4 - Sly and the Family Stone take over the top spot on the charts with "Family Affair".  It will stay there for three weeks.  Denise Gonzales (Blackburn) reminded us that the popular radio station of the day WOKY banned Sly Stone because they kept everyone waiting while they ate backstage.

Brand New Key
Brand New Key

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December 25 - Melanie tops the charts with "Brand New Key".  She stays on her skates for 3 weeks.

 

 

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1972

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American Pie
American Pie

January 15 - Melanie takes a tumble from the #1 spot on the charts and is replaced by one of the most discussed, most debated songs ever.  After only 8 weeks on the charts, Don McLean strikes gold and reaches the top with "American Pie".  On the surface, it laments the "day the music died" which refers to the 1959 plane crach that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.  The song is about much, much more.   At 8 minutes 50 seconds it was the longest song to reach #1 for nearly 50 years until Taylor Swift bested it.

Let's Stay Together
Let's Stay Together

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February 12 - Al Green moves into the #1 spot with "Let's Stay Together".  It also finished 1972 as the #1 song on the R&B charts.

Without You
Without You

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February 19 - Harry Nilsson moves into the #1 spot with his first chart-topper, "Without You".  Thinking it was a Beatles song when he first heard it, he covered Badfinger's earlier version of the song.

Heart of Gold
Heart of Gold

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March 18 - Neil Young takes over the #1 position with "Heart of Gold" from the timeless album Harvest Moon.  This performance was recorded live as he introduced this song in 1971.

Horse With No Name
Horse With No Name

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March 25 - I remember this song on the bus during our Senior class trip.  I was sitting with Judy Radocay, Warren and others and we tried to interpret the darn thing.  Jayne Jeffery recalls it also.  Some people thought "horse" referred to heroin and a Kansas City radio station banned it because of that.  Here is America and "Horse With No Name."

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

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April 16 - Roberta Flack begins a six week run on top of the charts with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.  It finishes as the #1 overall hit of 1972.  Another classic.

 

 

 

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Other Great Songs

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Songs we were listening to during our senior year.  Hope you enjoy.

 

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LaGrange
LaGrange

 

Dusty Hill of ZZ Top passed away in July 2021.  He was 72.  Al Schiesel and his brothers got me hooked on ZZ Top.  Here is a live performance of the 1973 classic, "LaGrange".

Take Me Home, Country Roads
Take Me Home, Country Roads

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This classic song by John Denver climbed the charts in 1971 but never made it to #1.  Here is "Take Me Home, Country Roads".

Proud Mary
Proud Mary

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This classic charted in during our senior year - Ike and Tina Turner with "Proud Mary".  Marge Tackes saw Tina perform this solo on the Summerfest stage and said it was terrific.

Me and Bobby McGee
Me and Bobby McGee

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Earlier in 1971, Janis Joplin reaches the top of the charts with "Me and Bobby McGee".  Written by Kris Kristofferson, she becomes the first artist to score a posthumous #1 hit since Otis Redding and his "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay".

My Sweet Lord
My Sweet Lord

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It is 1971 and the Beatles are all solo artists.  George Harrison becomes the first former Beatle to reach the #1 position with "My Sweet Lord".  George was known as a very spiritual man and this song is his modern day hymm.

What Is Life
What Is Life

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Speaking of George Harrison, here is Pam Joncas Loberger's favorite tune from the album "All Things Must Pass".  This is "What is Life" with its masterful guitar work.

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

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Such a great tune - here are The Temptations with a 1971 song, "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me").  Donna Wojciechowski and David Scardino like this song!  

I Don't Want to do Wrong
I Don't Want to do Wrong

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The long running television show Soul Train made its television debut in October 1971.  Gladys Knight and the Pips performed this song, "I Don't Want to do Wrong", on the first episode.

Rocket Man
Rocket Man

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Around the time of graduation, John Weber bought an 8-track of music by an up-and-coming artist named Elton John.  The 8-track was "Honky Chateau" and we listened to it endlessly, it seemed.  Previously, Elton John released "Madman Across the Water" that I then bought.  Elton John went on to become one of the most prolific artist and songwriter of our time.  Here is a live 1972 performance of "Rocket Man" that was charting our senior year.  Incredible memories.  

Nights in White Satin/Late Lament
Nights in White Satin/Late Lament

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This is an interesting one.  First released in 1967 by the Moody Blues, it fell flat and didn't crack the top 100.  The band continued to refine it and re-released it in 1972 as a track on their "Days of Future Passed" album.  It then rose to #2 on the charts and became known as the band's signature single.  I know I drove Warren crazy playing it.  Here is "Nights in White Satin" with the spoken word "Late Lament" at the end.  

Signs
Signs

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This song peaked at #3 in 1971.  Fun lyrics.  Here is "Signs" by Five Man Electrical Band.

Tired of Being Alone
Tired of Being Alone

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This song finished #12 overall in 1971.  Here is Al Green with "Tired of Being Alone".

Smiling Faces Sometimes
Smiling Faces Sometimes

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This song by The Undisputed Truth rose to #3 in the charts our senior year. Here is "Smiling Faces Sometimes".

Love Her Madly
Love Her Madly

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"Love Her Madly" was the highest charting song of The Doors peaking at #11 on the weekly Top 100.  It was from their last album with Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman.

Saturday in the Park
Saturday in the Park

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The band Chicago is a favorite of Dave Mliner.  Here is the 1972 hit, "Saturday in the Park" that rose to #3 in the charts.

I Just Want to Celebrate
I Just Want to Celebrate

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A very popular song recorded in 1971.  Every cover band of the time had a version of it.  Here is "I Just Want to Celebrate" by Rare Earth.

Old Man
Old Man

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Kind of poetic...  When we listened to this song in 1972, we were young and, like it or not, about to tackle the world.  Now, we are... well... older.  In the studio original, James Taylor played the banjo and Linda Ronstadt sang back-up vocals.  Please enjoy this live performance of Neil Young's "Old Man".

Turn the Page
Turn the Page

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Recorded in 1972, here is Bob Seger with "Turn the Page". (Okay, it was released in 1973 but Seger deserves a spot!)

Roundabout
Roundabout

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My good friend John Weber got into a Yes kick for awhile.  Here is "Roundabout" from 1971 - it peaked at #11 in 1972.

Papa Was a Rolling Stone
Papa Was a Rolling Stone

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Iconic doesn't even begin to describe this song.  Here are the Temptations with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone".  

Summer Breeze
Summer Breeze

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Here is a song that has to give you a sense of nostalgia.  Here is Seals and Crofts with "Summer Breeze".

Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven

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This anthem is considered a masterpiece - the guitar work of Jimmy Page and vocals by Robert Plant are iconic and many consider this song to be the greatest rock song of all time.  Never released as a single, it was the most requested song on U.S. radio stations in the 1970's.  Recorded in 1971, this is Led Zeppilin's live performance of  "Stairway to Heaven".

Don't Do It
Don't Do It

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A favorite of Dave Mliner - here is The Band from their album Rock of Ages with "Don't Do It".  Incredible musicians.

I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)
I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)

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Phenomenal musicians all working in this live performance of "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)" by the Moody Blues.  From the album Seventh Sojourn, the #1 album of 1972.  Interestingly, their top hit of 1972 was "Nights in White Satin", a 1967 recording that was reworked and included on Days of Future Passed.

Take It Easy
Take It Easy

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Formed in 1971, The Eagles are arguably the best American band of all time.  Warren "discovered" this group before I did and they became legendary.  Co-written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, here is their first single "Take It Easy" which was released in May 1972.  I always thought the "girl, my Lord, in a flat bed Ford" was one of our classmates.

Cisco Kid
Cisco Kid

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The signature song of the group War rose to #2 in the charts.  Very popular in the clubs of the day, here is "Cisco Kid". ("Low Rider" was 1975.)

School's Out
School's Out

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Alice Cooper said he tried to capture the last three minutes of the last day of school.  Now, it could be the theme for the pandemic.  Rising to #7 in the charts, here is a live performance of "School's Out".

Oh Girl
Oh Girl

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Rising to #1 on the R&B charts in 1972, here are the Chi-Lites with "Oh Girl".  Great music, great listening.

Truckin'
Truckin'

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Did we have any Dead Heads in our class?  I think I remember Dave Mliner watching the Pictorial ads for a used VW Micro Bus (I made that up).  Anyway, "Truckin" by the Grateful Dead was recorded in 1970 but didn't make the charts until the end of 1971.  It kept on truckin' from there.

Smoke on the Water
Smoke on the Water

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True story - the band Deep Purple was inspired to write "Smoke on the Water" while watching a casino in Switzerland burn during a Frank Zappa concert.  The guitar work is instantly recognizable.  

Hello It's Me
Hello It's Me

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First recorded in 1967 and released as a single in 1972, Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" climbed to #5 on the charts.  Years later, Rundgren produced Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell album.

Time
Time

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Pink Floyd recorded "Time" at the famous Abbey Road studio in May 1972 and included it on their greatest album, Dark Side of the Moon.  Alan Parsons was the studio engineer on the project.  The album remains as a colossus having charted for an incredible 961 weeks after its release.  961 week!  That's over 18 years!  I remember being at a pool party at Bob Dostalek's house.  He and Mike Krakau and Tom Lepak could not get enough of it.  Phenomenal music.

No One to Depend On
No One to Depend On

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Jim Hauerwas was a huge Santana fan.  From the #1 LP Santana III, here is "No One to Depend On"

I'm a Believer (1966)
I'm a Believer (1966)

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A blast from an earlier past because this was one of Linda Kling's (Gruber) favorite songs in high school.  Here are the Monkees with their 1966 hit, "I'm a Believer".

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

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Here is a song that was released in 1968 that everyone knew in high school.  It is one of Marie Ausustine's favorite songs from that time.  Originally written as "In the Garden of Eden", it came out as  "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly's Doug Ingle because he was intoxicated.  The band decided to keep it that way.

Peace Train
Peace Train

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"Peace Train" by Cat Stevens from Tea for the Tillerman rose to #6 on the charts in late 1971.  Another John Weber favorite.

Little Woman
Little Woman

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This is one of Dawn Kohlmeyer's (Testin) favorite artists in high school.  This is Bobby Sherman's live performance of "Little Woman".

Emma
Emma

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A favorite of Mark Allen Christensen from back in the day.  Here is "Emma" by Hot Chocolate.

Layla
Layla

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Some of the most enduring classics did not reach the top of the charts.  Inspired in part by Eric Clapton's love of George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd, here is "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos.

Honky Tonk Woman
Honky Tonk Woman

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A classic from our freshman year in high school.  Here is a live performance of the Rolling Stones doing "Honky Tonk Women".

Let It Be
Let It Be

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What a classic from our sophomore year!  Here are The Beatles with "Let It Be".  Gotta hit the "feels".

Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Bridge Over Troubled Waters

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The #1 song from our sophomore year in high school.  Timeless.  Almost a song of majesty for its calm and healing for those in pain.  Just brilliant.  Here is Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters".

Tears of a Clown
Tears of a Clown

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Motown was in its hay day during our time in high school.  Here is Smokey Robinson and the Miracles doing "Tears of a Clown" which charted during our junior year.  Enjoy

Rainy Night in Georgia
Rainy Night in Georgia

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Brook Benton charted with this classic in 1970.  Here is a live performance of his "Rainy Night in Georgia".  Lord, can we make music like this today?

Evil Ways
Evil Ways

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Live from the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, here is Santana and "Evil Ways".

Get Together
Get Together

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Released in 1967, this song failed to chart.  Following the Woodstock festival it was again released in 1969 when it climbed the charts during our freshman year.  Featuring Jesse Colin Young, here are the Youngbloods with "Get Together".  

Heard It Through The Grapevine
Heard It Through The Grapevine

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We were in our freshman year when Marvin Gaye "Heard It Through The Grapevine".

You've Made Me So Very Happy
You've Made Me So Very Happy

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A very popular song by a favorite band of Dave Mliner, here is "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Bad Moon Rising
Bad Moon Rising

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Incredibly, Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a #1 chart topper.  However, they had five songs reach #2.  Here is one of them that was charting during our freshman and sophomore years.  This is "Bad Moon Rising".

Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)
Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)

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This song was climbing the charts on our graduation day in 1972.  It made it to #1 that summer.  Here is a live performance of "Brandy" (You're a Fine Girl) by The Looking Glass.

Me and Mrs. Jones
Me and Mrs. Jones

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Here is a great tune from 1972 that has stood the test of time.  A favorite of Gregg Martin, this Me and Mrs Jones by Billy Paul.