March 1973 – Killing Me Softly with His Song by Roberta Flack

March 1973 – a song popular in this month – Killing Me Softly with His Song by Roberta Flack

The story goes that the song was inspired by Don McLean, a singer/songwriter famous for his hit “American Pie.”

Interesting facts about Killing Me Softly with His Song & Roberta Flack

McLean said he had no idea the song was about him. ‘Someone called me and said a song had been written about me and it was #1,’ McLean recalled.

This was written by the songwriting team of Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and first recorded by Lori Lieberman in 1972.

Flack heard Lieberman’s version on an in-flight tape recorder while flying from Los Angeles to New York. She loved the title and lyrics and decided to record it herself.

This won Grammys in 1974 for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal. Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won Record of the Year the previous year, making her the first artist to win the award 2 consecutive years.

Toni Collette, Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult performed this in the film About A Boy.

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February 1973 – Crocodile Rock by Elton John

February 1973 – a song popular in this month – Crocodile Rock by Elton John

This tells the story of a guy in the ’50s and ’60s who frequented a restaurant where the patrons loved an obscure dance called the Crocodile Rock.

Interesting facts about Crocodile Rock & Elton John

This was the first of many #1 singles by Elton John in the US.

Don McLean has mentioned that this is similar to his hit “American Pie,” which came out the previous year. Both songs are about young people in the ’50s obsessed with rock n’ roll, but disappointed when the music “dies.”

Elton performed this on The Muppet Show when he appeared on a Season Two episode in 1977. A very popular song with kids, it made for a great opening number, with Elton performing in a swamp with a crocodile chorus.

This song helped send the Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player album to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. It was Elton’s first #1 in the UK, but Honky Chateau went to #1 in the US earlier that year.

Before he was a solo artist, John was in a group called Bluesology.

Elton is godfather to several celebrity children, including Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham (sons of David and Victoria Beckham), and Damian Charles (son of Elizabeth Hurley).

At one point, John was responsible for 3% of all records sold on the planet.

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February 1973 – Right Place Wrong Time by Dr. John

February 1973 – a song popular in this month – Right Place Wrong Time by Dr. John

Easily the most recognized song from Dr. John’s long and varied recorded output, “Right Place, Wrong Time” is a pivotal track that marries the legacy of the good doctor’s New Orleans rhythm-and-blues ancestors to the bold funk that dominated black American music at the time of the record’s release.

Interesting facts about Right Place Wrong Time & Dr. John

Lyrically, “Right Place, Wrong Time” is standard blues fare, documenting in ironic one-liners the singer’s propensity for misfortune.

While “Right Place, Wrong Time” was Dr. John’s lone rise to the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, the song has been ubiquitous in American popular culture for decades since.

While he Dr. John continued his high-profile session work throughout the 1970s, appearing, for instance, on Carly Simon and James Taylor’s hit, “Mockingbird,” and lending keyboards to Rickie Lee Jones’s Grammy-winning debut, his largest commercial success as a solo artist came with Gumbo’s follow-up: In the Right Place in 1973.

Rebennack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Dr. John in 2011, more than forty years after the birth of his colorful alter ego.

He wrote the theme song for the TV show Blossom, which ran from 1990-1995. In the open, the show’s star Mayim Bialik dances exuberantly to the song. Bialik would later join the cast of the show The Big Bang Theory.

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January 1973 – Superstition by Stevie Wonder

January 1973 – a song popular in this month – Superstition by Stevie Wonder

Wonder wrote this about the dangers of believing in superstitions.

Interesting facts about Superstition & Stevie Wonder

When Wonder turned 21, he was no longer obligated to Motown Records, and used his clout to sign a deal with the label giving him unprecedented control of his music.

This was Wonder’s second #1 hit in the US. His first was with “Fingertips (Part 2)” in 1963, which he recorded as “Little” Stevie Wonder.

Wonder performed this song on Sesame Street in 1973 during the show’s fourth season. It was recorded at the show’s New York studios at a time when Wonder and his band were playing lots of gigs, and they treated the Sesame Street performance just like any other, extending it to nearly 7 minutes.

The album was called Talking Book because wonder considered the songs akin to chapters in a book that tell a whole story. On the cover is a rare photo of Wonder without his sunglasses on.

According to his official biography, Wonder was born six weeks premature in a Saginaw Hospital. He was kept alive in an incubator for a month, and during this time, too much oxygen was pumped into the incubator, causing him to develop retrolental fibroplasia, now technically known as retinopathy of prematurity, which caused his blindness.

Wonder doesn’t see his blindness as a liability. “Being blind, you don’t judge books by their covers,” he said. “You go through things that are relatively insignificant, and you pick out the things that are more important.”

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January 1973 – You’re So Vain by Carly Simon

January 1973 – a song popular in this month – You’re So Vain by Carly Simon

The person Simon is singing about in this song remains a mystery, as she has never made it clear who she wrote it about; rumors include Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, and Mick Jagger, all of whom she had affairs with.

Interesting facts about You’re So Vain & Carly Simon

Richard Perry, who produced the album, has his own ideas about the song’s subject matter. He said in the book The Record Producers: “It’s about a compilation of men that Carly had known, but primarily Warren Beatty.”

Simon came up with the “Clouds in my coffee” line on a cross-country flight. She explained the meaning of the phrase, saying: “Clouds In My Coffee are the confusing aspects of life and love.

In 1976, Simon performed this on Saturday Night Live, but taped her performance about an hour before the show because she got really bad stage fright.

Carla Simon was married to James Taylor from 1972-1983.

She won the Grammy for Best New Artist of 1971.

In 2015, Taylor Swift listed this as the #1 “Song That Made Me,” explaining that its coy look at a famous ex-lover was an inspiration for many of her songs.

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December 1972 – Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul

December 1972 – a song popular in this month – Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul

This song is about marital infidelity.

Interesting facts about Me and Mrs. Jones & Billy Paul

A hint about this song’s subject matter is cleverly “hidden” in its intro: the saxophone is playing the first line from a 1953 Doris Day hit entitled “Secret Love,”.

The song came to life after Billy Paul took it with him on vacation and came back to deliver the powerful, emotive vocals that many people could relate to.

When this hit #1 on December 16, 1972, it knocked Helen Reddy’s female-empowerment anthem “I Am Woman” out of the top spot.

The Dramatics took this song to #47 in 1975; in 2007, Michael Bublé included it on his album Call Me Irresponsible.

After Billy Paul died on April 24, 2016, the Gamble and Huff team released a statement saying, “Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded.

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December 1972 – I Am Woman by Helen Reddy

December 1972 – a song popular in this month – I Am Woman by Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy wrote this when she couldn’t find enough songs to include on her first album, I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

Interesting facts about I Am Woman & Helen Reddy

Included on the 1971 album, Reddy didn’t like the way this version came out and neither did her producer (he thought she sounded “too butch”), but they put it on the album anyway.

Movie producer Mike Frankovitch wanted to use it in his “feminist comedy” Stand Up And Be Counted. Reddy agreed on two conditions: That she would re-record the song, and that he would donate $1000 each to Women’s Centers in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

When this song got a makeover in 1972, the arrangement was changed, as were some lyrics (“I can face anything” became “I can do anything”), and a verse was added. These tweaks helped the song become a huge hit.

This song was a cultural touchstone in America, as it underscored the feminist movement. Like the movement, the song proved divisive, generally split along gender lines with women loving the song (or at least appreciating its message) and some men hating it.

Reddy is Australian, and this song became the first Hot 100 #1 by an Australian-born artist. Some of her other hits include “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress),” “Angie Baby,” “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” and “Delta Dawn.”

Reddy won the Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for this song. In her acceptance speech, she thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.”

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November 1972 – Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond

November 1972 – a song popular in this month – Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond

This was inspired by Mozart’s “Piano Concerto no. 21.” It’s probably the bounciest hit inspired by the classical composer.

Interesting facts about Song Sung Blue & Neil Diamond

Diamond: “This is one to which I never paid too much attention. A very basic message, unadorned. I didn’t even write a bridge to it… I had no idea that it would be a huge hit or that people would want to sing along with it.”

He wears shiny shirts adorned with beads on stage. This can come off as cheesy, but he does it to make himself easier to see.

Neil Diamond gets asked to play “Sweet Caroline” all the time, but he revealed during a Reddit AMA that his favorite song to perform is “I Am…I Said.”

Other artists to record this song include Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Wayne Newton, and the Scottish Punk band Altered Images.

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November 1972 – I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

November 1972 – a song popular in this month – I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

This is not a song about suicide, as has been hypothesized. It is a song of hope and courage for individuals who have experienced adversity in their lives but have overcome it.

Interesting facts about I Can See Clearly Now & Johnny Nash

Nash wrote this song himself. He recorded it in London with members of The Average White Band, who in 1974 had a hit of their own with “Pick Up The Pieces.”

This was #1 in the US for four weeks late in 1972.

Born in Houston, Texas, he started his career as a pop singer in the late ’50s with his first charting hit, “A Very Special Love.”

“There are three artists who’ve really influenced me in my singing career,” Nash told Melody Maker in 1969. “They are the late Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte. They all have something I wish I had.”

A cover version by Jimmy Cliff (for a time, a bigger reggae star than Bob Marley) went to #18 in the US in 1994. His version was used in the John Candy movie Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team.

This was featured in the opening sequence of the 1997 John Cusack film Grosse Pointe Blank. It was also used in the movie Thelma And Louise.

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October 1972 – Ben by Michael Jackson

October 1972 – a song popular in this month – Ben by Michael Jackson

This song is one of Michael Jackson’s favorites, and it was his first #1 hit as a solo artist. Motown recorded him as a solo artist when The Jackson 5 stopped selling well.

Interesting facts about Ben & Michael Jackson

Jackson was 14 when he recorded this. He became the youngest artist to top the US charts both as a solo artist and as a member of a group (The Jackson 5).

Despite being about a rat, the lyrics are touching and sentimental, and make no reference to rodents. This made it a sturdy song about friendship:

They don’t see you as I do I wish they would try to

I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Ben

This was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Jackson sang it at the ceremony in 1973.

Michael was the seventh of nine children (Janet and Randy are younger). They grew up in a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana. The six boys slept in one room, while the three girls shared the other with the parents, Joe and Katherine.

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