Monday, January 24, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • January, 1972

The future hides and the past just slides, England lies between
Floating in a silver mist, so cold and so clean
California's shaking like an angry child will
Who has asked for love and is unanswered still
from Something Fine by Jackson Browne

The California sound is evolving in January, 1972. The terms 'folk rock' and 'country rock' are promoted by record companies and radio stations riding the next wave. The artists themselves hate these sub-genre terms as the money vise works to squeeze them into neat AM/FM formats and the integration of my childhood 60's pop – the mixed airplay of rock 'n' roll, country, blues and R&B moves into separate silos across the radio dial.

Now as a teenager, all the record companies have mostly moved to Los Angeles as movies and music begin to merge into mega-media corporations. The end of my rock 'n' roll innocence is not yet realized at the time. 

More folk-country-rock musicians like Jackson Browne continue to emerge on the national stage and continue the trend of singer-songwriters making their own hit records. With the release of his first album, Jackson Browne as an LA native and known to many within the music business for his songwriting (since he was 16), instantly joins the top-tier class of singer-songwriters in Los Angeles. January 1972, also gives us Paul Simon's wonderful debut solo album and my record collection starts to grow – funded by doing a variety of janitorial jobs around town. 

Linda Ronstadt releases her self-titled third solo album and is just about a year away from hitting the big time herself as she will start working with James Taylor's producer/manager, and former Peter & Gordon 60's pop star, Peter Asher.  

LA is a beacon for music and I'm in a sleepy town just 2 1/2 hours north that's ready to wake up with a new crop of teenagers anxious to hear the blend of acoustic and electric guitars on records and in concerts.

I'm a junior in January '72, starting to see the light at the end of the high school tunnel. I've been doing a part-time janitorial job at a heavy-duty diesel truck repair shop for about a year now. I clean a place where thick grease is manufactured by the minute, traveling from the trucks to the shop's cement floors to work boots, and then to tile floors in the offices and lunchroom. I still have a vivid image of cleaning and mopping the lunch room tile floor just to walk back by that room five minutes later to see a fresh trail of black grease Vibram® soles tracks leading to and from the vending machines. Who in God's name puts white linoleum tile in a diesel truck repair shop?

I also did other jobs around the shop basically located in an open field that was farming land just a few years prior. Anyway, I had to often clear weeds around the property. My friend, Paul Hobbs who lived nearby would sometimes see me working outside as he rode his bike over the US 101 freeway overpass. Paul and I would talk until I got skittish about my boss seeing us talking and I would suddenly tell him he had to leave. C'mon Doug?

I remember my boss unloading a huge but old rototiller for me to clear a section of weeds to add some plant landscaping. Everything was going fine until the rototiller started smoking something fierce and suddenly froze and died. I had one of the mechanics come out to see what was wrong, and he started laughing when he discovered our boss had failed to add oil and ruined the motor! That was a good one for him to tell the crew in the shop and make fun of the boss. The shop of mechanics were good ol' boys where no one was spared the butt-end of a joke or prank. I learned a few things in my time there... and yes, to always check the oil level in my future cars. On one occasion, the men closed the shop early one Friday and I was invited as a special guest to watch my first porn film on a 16mm reel to reel projector and screen in the back of the Parts Department with the guys. 

At some point in my junior year, I got another janitorial job by a guy at my church to work at his cleaning business. I remember cleaning a data processing building that had rooms filled with large rectangular metal machines with windows of reel to reel tape. At the time, I didn't even know these were early computer storage systems. I would later have a long career as an educational technology teacher in San Diego.

Now these cleaning jobs were boring as hell and I would often invite friends to tag along as a talking buddy. I started inviting a friend from my church, Jeff McGill to come and kill time with me at John Deere and the Toyota dealership on West Main. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was tailing me and warned me if I kept bringing friends along, he would fire me. I think I was at the Toyota dealership with Jeff, when in comes my boss and fires me on the spot. Jeff felt bad, but he did me a big favor as I hated that job.

A year later as a senior in high school, my friend Bill DeVoe and I got a janitorial/gardening contract to clean and maintain our church, Grace Baptist Church on West Alvin and Lincoln in Santa Maria. I remember we made a presentation to the Board of Deacons at the church and beat out an adult church member who just happened to be, my former boss with the cleaning business. Oh lordy lordy that was a bit of Instant Karma and Oh Happy Day!


  1. Love your personal account of 1972 and the impact this great era of music had on your life. Your insight regarding the monetary aspect of categorizing styles of music and relegating many of them to their own special niche shows and sometimes stations. Love the playlist. You raided my record collection Enrique wasn’t looking. Wait…we had pretty much, twin record collections. Thanks for the great blog.

  2. Whoops! Left out the word love before the comment “your insight…”


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