One Survey Dig: February 1972

For the past couple years, I’ve been deeply involved in the music program at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship here in St. Cloud. Along with joining the other musicians in leading the weekly congregants in music from our service book and in performing popular music, I’ve offered quite a few of my own compositions.

Almost all of my work that I’ve sung at the fellowship has been quite old, most from the late 1980s and early 1990s, things I wrote and then tucked away for whatever use I might find for them someday. That was the case this week, as I performed a tune of mine titled “Come To Me” for our annual Valentine’s Day program. It’s a song I wrote in Columbia, Missouri, in December 1990 and never performed anywhere until this week. And thinking about that performance in the past few days, I’ve come to two conclusions:

First, if I want to keep performing original work that my audience at the fellowship has never heard before, I’ll need to resume writing songs; I’m rapidly running through my catalog.

Second: I’ve realized that one of the turning points of my life came in early 1972, when I took my first course in music theory at St. Cloud State.

By that time, I’d been playing piano (on my second go-round) for a couple of years and had been writing poetry/lyrics for about the same amount of time. I’d also been playing guitar for about a year, and I’d tried to use my nascent skills there to write music for my lyrics, but all I’d really been doing was stringing together generally random chords. That hadn’t worked well, and the theory I was learning taught me why, as I began to understand how chordal patterns helped song structures work. That understanding grew as I took four more classes in music theory, exhausting St. Cloud State’s offerings.

Now, not much of what I wrote during the next couple of years has aged well (and that includes pieces, generally singer-songwriter stuff, written for the last week of each theory class), but the stuff I wrote after I started my theory courses at least had coherent musical structures. And that change began in the early months of 1972.

So in the spirit of learning about something new, I thought I’d see if there were any records I’d either never heard or didn’t recall hearing on the record survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB during this week in 1972.

Here’s the top five, all of which – as you might guess – are very familiar:

“Joy” by Apollo 100
“Without You” by Nilsson
“Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers
“Hurting Each Other” by the Carpenters
“Precious and Few” by Climax

All of those are decent records fondly recalled, but as we head down to the lower portions of the survey – thirty-six records long, in a reversed representation of the station’s frequency of 630 – there are good records that are less familiar. And sitting in spot No. 33, new to the survey during this week in 1972, was a Grass Roots record that I likely heard somewhere, sometime, but one that I do not recall hearing until this morning: “Glory Bound.”

The record has all the merits of the Grass Roots’ peak stuff from earlier years, including the 1970-71 trio of “Temptation Eyes,” “Sooner Or Later” and “Two Divided By Love,” but the band’s moment was pretty much over. The record peaked on KDWB three weeks later at No. 11; in the Billboard Hot 100, it got up to No. 34.

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