December 9, 1972 — The Whitlam government is elected in Australia

It was time.

After 23 years in the wilderness, the Australian Labor Party was once again elected by the Australian people. Led by Gough Whitlam, they had only narrowly lost the previous election and this time thumped home with a comfortable 9 seat majority. Whitlam wasted little time – he and deputy Lance Barnard were sworn in by the Governor-General the following day, and set about enacting their agenda.

In the parlance of today, they moved fast and broke things – one of those things, unfortunately, their own government. But in the meantime, they ended Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, introduced socialised health care and ended the White Australia Policy, among other reforms. A later Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, characterised the Whitlam government as waking Australia from its ‘Menzian torpor’, and it’s hard to argue with him.

Gough Whitlam 1972 policy speech.jpg
By National Archives of Australia – http://guides.naa.gov.au/gough-whitlam/gallery/image009.aspx, CC BY 4.0, Link

As mentioned in:

Long Run — Redgum

December 2, 1972 – Carly Simon releases “You’re So Vain”

Carly Simon’s most famous song is also one of her most hotly debated. Because Simon has never revealed who it is that she finds so very, very vain. Oh, she’s dropped the odd clue now and again, but an actual confirmation still eludes us.

Spoiler: it’s Warren Beatty. Or maybe Mick Jagger or David Geffen. Definitely not James Taylor (although the two were married for a time). And despite Simon’s jokes to the contrary, it probably isn’t about Mark Felt (although it would be kinda cool if it were – alas, the dates don’t line up for it to be him).

So I guess we’ll never know – or at least, we won’t know until Carly Simon gets tired of messing with us.

October 7, 1972 — John Nicholls leads Carlton to victory in the VFL Grand Final

In his first year as captain-coach of Carlton, veteran ruckman John Nicholls acheived a minor miracle. While Carlton were one of the top sides in the competition, it was widely believed that with the departure of Ron Barassi as coach, they would struggle to keep form. Nicholls proved them all wrong. Carlton topped the ladder at the end of the regular season and defeated Richmond in the Grand Final by 27 points.

In the match itself, Nicholls, who was widely believed to be slowing down with age, kicked six goals, having taken himself off the ruck and instead played from the forward pocket. Nicholls would remain coach for three more seasons, though he retired as player and captain at the end of the 1974 season, but Carlton did not add to its Premiership tally any further, losing to the same team they had defeated in 1973 and failing to reach the Grand Final in 1974 and 1975.

September 25, 1972 — “Black Sabbath, vol.4” is released

The fourth studio album by legendary heavy metal outfit Black Sabbath, Volume 4 was the only one of their albums to be numbered in this way. Perhaps the lads just couldn’t be arsed thinking of an actual title, or maybe it was a joke (possibly at Led Zeppelin’s expense). Whatever the case, the album went gold within a month of its release, and despite critical disdain, sold over a million copies in the US alone.

But it was to be a turning point for the band. Although the original lineup of the band would continue for several more years, in retrospect, most them mark this album as the point at which the drugs and booze – especially the cocaine – started to take their toll. Musically, the album was a shift away from the heavy sound of their first three albums towards a lighter, more melodic sound – perhaps too great a shift in the opinion of some.

August 22, 1972 — Jane Fonda visits North Vietnam

Jane Fonda, daughter of Henry Fonda, and a well-respected actress in her own right, was also a prominent anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. She went further than most others did, though. She visited Hanoi, meeting with North Vietnamese officials and American prisoners of war. On August 22, 1972, she made a broadcast of her impressions from her visit, and was photographed wearing an NVA uniform.

These facts are undeniable. Pretty much everything else regarding her visit is a matter of considerable controversy. A persistent rumour states that she handed notes passed to her by POWs to the NVA, leading to the torture of those prisoners. However, the prisoners actually named in this rumour (circulated as an email), have denied that she did this – and made it clear that they are no fans of her actions, either.

July 3, 1972 — Mississippi Fred McDowell dies

Mississippi Fred McDowell was 68 at the time of his death – he was born, died and was buried in the state that gave him his nickname. Cancer took him, and the world lost a great talent.

McDowell, although often lumped in with the Delta Blues tradition, is more accurately seen as one of the earliest representatives of the distinct yet related North Mississippi Blues tradition. He often served as a mentor to younger musicians – famously, although he always said “I Do Not Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll” (he even released an album with that as its title), he was happy to associate with those who did, notably Bonnie Raitt.

June 1972 — Ray Bradbury publishes “The Halloween Tree”

Originally written in 1967, “The Halloween Tree”‘s first incarnation was a script that Bradbury planned to turn into an animated film in collaboration with Chuck Jones. When those plans fell through, Bradbury re-worked it as a novel, which was published in 1972.

Twenty years later, he finally got the chance to do it as the animated film he’d planned, although alas, Chuck Jones was not involved. Regardless of this, the animation was produced in 1993 with Bradbury himself providing the voice of the Narrator, and went on to be a commercial and a critical success. It also made Bradbury one of the few winners of a Hugo to also win an Emmy.

June 17, 1972 — The Watergate Burglary goes awry

On the morning of June 17, 1972, a young journalist named Bob Woodward was working the court beat in Washington DC. It was a pretty dull assignment for the most part, until that day, when five men – Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James W. McCord, Jr., Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis – were arraigned for a burglary at the Watergate Complex, which housed the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

The five men were operatives in the pay of the Nixon government, and the most notorious scandal in United States political history was only beginning. By the time it was over, Woodward and his co-writer Bernstein would be household names, as would their informant, known for more than two decades by no other name than the alias of Deep Throat. Moreover, Nixon would resign in disgrace, and numerous members of his government would wind up facing criminal charges for their participation in the burglary, the cover-up that followed, and any number of other such dirty tricks that the Nixon White House, which referred to these activities as “ratfucking”, was wont to engage in.

January 30, 1972 — The Bloody Sunday incident takes place in Derry

On January 30, 1972, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association held a rally which marched through the Bogside area of Derry, in Northern Ireland. And that’s about the last detail that anyone agrees on for the next few hours.

Accounts of the size of the crowd vary from 300 to 30,000, and of its behaviour even moreso. The level of hostility by each side to the other is disputed, with each accusing the other of causing the events that followed.

What happened after that is not disputed. Members of the UK armed forces, primarily representing the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, opened fire on the march. 26 protestors were shot by police and military forces, half of those fatally (another died months later from injuries attributed to the shots). Two more were injured when hit by military vehicles.

Understandably, the event became known as Bloody Sunday.

Edward Daly Bloody Sunday.jpg
By Photo by BBC journalist John Bierman ([1]), Fair use, Link

As mentioned in:

Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2
Give Ireland Back to the Irish — Paul McCartney and Wings