Chart Check-In: 5 Super-Cool Songs from the Top 40 Charts This Week in 1972

You can usually find some songs you might not have thought of in a while when you randomly peruse the Billboard Top 40 charts from a given year. For whatever reason, the charts from this week in 1972 were particularly stacked with winning songs from all types of artists and genres.

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We thought we’d look back and cherry-pick five songs from that Top-40 class that hold up quite well, even after all these years.

“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” by The 5th Dimension (No. 11 on the Charts)

The 5th Dimension are one of those groups who had hits upon hits and still seem to be under the radar. Perhaps that’s because they were so versatile they couldn’t be easily pinned down. They could do the groovy stuff quite credibly, but they could also tackle torch songs with aplomb. “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” kind of covers both bases. On the one hand, the backing vocals and the sparkling melody keep things peppy. But what really sticks with you is the lived-in anguish of Marilyn McCoo’s vocals as she tells of her heartbreak-fueled insomnia.

“Diary” by Bread (No. 16)

This song didn’t rise as high in the charts as some of Bread’s other chart-toppers. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t end well for the song’s protagonist. Or perhaps people missed what happens at the end of the song completely and figured that it was just a typical love song, nothing to see here. In actuality, “Diary” features one of the most devastating twist endings in pop music history. Our hapless hero spends much of the song marveling at the words of love his girl has been writing in her diary, only to realize that she was writing about somebody else. Yikes!

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon (No. 22)

Those who were paying close attention to the last few Simon & Garfunkel albums should have noticed that Paul Simon was largely moving away from the folk-based acoustic stuff of the early years of the duo, in favor of rhythmically livelier material. Still, it was a brilliant touch for one of his first releases as a solo artist to be something so loose and fun. Those looking for deep meaning in the lyrics probably ended up on a wild goose chase, as Simon has admitted that even he didn’t have any clue what the Mama saw, but was rather choosing words more for their sound than their meaning.

“Isn’t Life Strange” by The Moody Blues (No. 30)

Most people think of Justin Hayward as the lead singer of The Moody Blues, and he has been on lead vocals for many of their biggest hits. But the Moodies tended to pass the vocal baton around occasionally, especially when someone else wrote besides Hayward. In this case, bassist John Lodge took charge as both writer and lead vocalist, showcasing a pretty prominent vibrato in the latter role. The song rises effortlessly from quiet verses to booming choruses. These guys could work up quite a ruckus, even with classical instruments leading the way.

“Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne (No. 36)

Those who first experienced Browne through his debut album heard a serious guy who seemed to be torn up about a lot of things (but could express all that angst beautifully). But if you first found out about him through the single “Doctor My Eyes,” you might have come away with a different idea. You might have considered him more  of a bopping pop-rocker than a deep singer/songwriter, even though the song does tackle the profound mysteries of youth. That’s because the package, featuring Jesse Ed Davis’ sparkling guitar lead and Russ Kunkel’s booming drums, is so propulsive.

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