THE SONGTRACK OF OUR HIGH SCHOOL YEARS (1969 – 1972) They were the glory days for radio: AM (e.g., Akron’s WIXY 1260 and Windsor’s CKLW, the Big 8) and later FM (e.g., Cleveland’s WMMS). It was before stations targeted specific genres and before apps (like Pandora) and industry marketing decisions further narrowed music playlists. It was also before MTV drained most of the imagination out of radio. We had it all in high school with one turn of the dial: pop, folk, bubblegum, rock, progressive rock, heavy metal, blues, funk, R&B/soul, gospel, and country were in the Top 40 countdown every week. Motown was featured on CKLW including ballads that gave voice to our bewilderment with the adult world (e.g., The Temptations’ Ball of confusion). Songs on WIXY could make us smile (e.g., Three Dog Night’s Joy to the world), which provided a crucial antidote to the drudgery of homework in our sequestered corner of northeastern Ohio. Other songs described ideal but distant locales, regaining past loves and, importantly, societal hypocrisy (i.e., the generation gap). Radio was imagination-provoking, educational and a diverse oasis of counsel for Copley High coming-of-age teens.


What came over our airwaves wasn’t available in our classrooms. Classrooms rarely inspired imagination or allowed alternative views. School is not about creating vision or purpose. It’s about teaching facts. Discovering your place in life has little to do with following a high school curriculum or “being true to your school.” It requires imagining your future with a view to answering the crucial question: Who are you? (The Who). Einstein said that “… [useful] education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learns in school.” Songs that shaped the soundtrack to our school years remain.


As Springsteen said in No surrenderWell we busted out of class, had to get away from those fools. We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever did in school.” Some songs still immediately connect us to high school friends and social situations that were more meaningful than classes. Navigating the path from the wonder of childhood through the cruel realities of adolescence is hard, but radio tunes were full of reassurance and helped handle the disillusionment with the world that arrived with maturity. The educational system was stuck in the conformity and traditions of the 50’s but not our music. Cruising Skyway with car radios blasting out defiant anthems was our attempt to escape the trap — or at least imagine we could. Tunes transported us in space and time while memorable melodies created moments of hope.


I recall 3-minute lessons in imagining other realities from Lobo singing about Me and you and a dog named Boo taking a cross country trip (60’s Akron was car culture central) to “big LA.” Lobo romanticized the open road where you can “love being a free man.” Nature’s way by Spirit enlightened us about a coming climate crisis. We learned from “a child of God” how to free our souls by getting “back to the garden” (Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock). The Staple Singers announced a hopeful future where “ain’t nobody crying, ain’t nobody worried, ain’t no smiling faces lying to the races” with a gospel chorus hook promising I’ll take you there. In What’s going on, Marvin Gaye called out police brutality and empowered us to trust in our own choices by singing Who are they to judge us, just because our hair is long?” Edwin Starr’s War sermonized that there was “absolutely nothing’” good about the Vietnam War which felt very true but something that no educators in our lecture rooms said aloud. We were schooled about class privilege by Creedence’s Fortunate son that criticized how ‘silver spoons’ had avoided the draft - a draft we feared and fervently hoped that Nixon’s government would decide, as Lennon repeated in his chorus, to Give peace a chance. Alarmingly, CSN&Y’s refrain taught us about the fragility of life for students, about our age, who were merely walking to class in “[four dead in] Ohio.” By the time of high school graduation, most of us were ecstatic for “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” (Alice Cooper’s School’s out).


Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The landscape of radio’s inspiration exploded in Oct ‘71 when WMMS embraced album-oriented radio: freeform formats created by young, hip DJs. It was well-timed for teens hungry for, as David Bowie said, Changes. The Buzzard (100.7) had Kid Leo, Matt the Cat, Billy Bass & David Spero broadcasting authentic takes on topics that mattered between playing songs that mattered. Suddenly, every song became a ‘message’ song. My imagination, like the Cuyahoga, caught fire. Fifty years later I can still Listen to the music and enjoy the feeling (like the Temptations tutored us with harmony and rhythm) —of just my imagination running away with me.…………….Tonight’s Big 96 playlist on APPLE ......................... Tonight’s Big 96 playlist on SPOTIFY

The playlist has 32 songs from each grade. If your faves aren’t here or you’d like to time travel more, the Copley High Class of 1972 Facebook page (or has links to 3 more playlists (one/school year) with 258 more tunes.

American pie – DON McCLEAN — Feb72

American woman – THE GUESS WHO — May70

Mother and child reunion – PAUL SIMON — Apr72

25 or 6 to 4 — CHICAGO — Sep70

No time – THE GUESS WHO — Feb70

Indian reservation – PAUL REVERE — Jul71

Smiling faces – THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH — Sep71

Suspicious minds – ELVIS PRESLEY — Oct69

Temptation eyes – THE GRASS ROOTS — Apr71

Do you know what I mean? — LEE MICHAELS — Oct71

Venus – SHOCKING BLUE — Mar70

Sweet Caroline — NEIL DIAMOND — Sep69

Brandy – LOOKING GLASS — May72

Domino – VAN MORRISON — Jan71

Lola – THE KINKS — Oct70

Baba O’Riley — THE WHO – Nov71

Layla – DEREK & THE DOMINOS — Sep71

Won’t get fooled again — THE WHO – Sep71

Sunshine – JONATHAN EDWARDS — Jan72

Riders on the storm – THE DOORS — Sep71

Take me home, country roads – JOHN DENVER— Aug71


Don’t mess around with Jim – JIM CROCE — Jun72

Me and Bobby McGee – JANIS JOPLIN — Mar71

Me and you and a dog named Boo – LOBO — May71

Love theme from The Godfather - NINO ROTAMay72

Me and Julio down by the schoolyard


Old man — NEIL YOUNG — Jun72

Take it easy – EAGLES — Jun72

It don’t come easy – RINGO STARR — Jun71

Another day – PAUL McCARTNEY – May71

Someday we’ll be together – THE SUPREMES — Dec69

Come together — THE BEATLES — Sep69

Everybody’s talking – NILSSON — Oct69

Imagine – JOHN LENNON — Nov71

My sweet Lord – GEORGE HARRISON — Jan71

Lay, lady, lay — BOB DYLAN — Sep69

Fire and rain — JAMES TAYLOR — Nov70

Anticipation – CARLY SIMON — Feb72

I second that emotion – THE SUPREMES — Oct69

It’s too late – CAROLE KING — Feb71

Your song – ELTON JOHN — Feb71

A horse with no name – AMERICA — Apr72


Big yellow taxi — JONI MITCHELL — Jul70

Woodstock – CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG - May70

Doctor my eyes – JACKSON BROWNE — May72

The tears of a clown — SMOKEY ROBINSON — Dec70

Moonshadow – CAT STEVENS — Aug71

MoondanceVAN MORRISON — Jan70

Celebrate – THREE DOG NIGHT — Mar70

Dance to the music - SLY & THE FAMILY STONE – Sep69

Joy to the world — THREE DOG NIGHTApr71

Dancing in the moonlight – KING HARVEST — May72

Mama told me not to come - THREE DOG NIGHT - Jul70

Tiny dancer – ELTON JOHN Apr71

ABC – JACKSON 5 — May70

I want you back – JACKSON 5 — Jan70

Get back — THE BEATLES — Sep69

Lean on me – BILL WITHERSJun72

Proud Mary – IKE & TINA TURNER — Mar71

Cecilia – SIMON & GARFUNKEL — May70

Theme from Shaft – ISAAC HAYES — Nov71

If you really love me — STEVIE WONDER — Oct71

I’ll never fall in love again – DIONNE WARWICKJan70 I think I love you – THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY — Nov70

Whole lotta love – LED ZEPPELIN — Jan70

Signed, sealed, delivered — STEVIE WONDER — Aug70

Ball of confusion — THE TEMPTATIONS — Jun70

Rocket man – ELTON JOHN — Mar72

Spirit in the sky — NORMAN GREENBAUM — Apr70

I’ll take you there – THE STAPLE SINGERS — Jun72

Just my imagination – THE TEMPTATIONS — Apr71

Walk awayJAMES GANG - Jul71

Closer to home (I’m your captain)


Gimme shelter – THE ROLLING STONES — Dec69

Fortunate son – CREEDENCE CLEARWATER (CCR)- Dec69

Have you ever seen the rain? – CCR — Mar71

Who’ll stop the rain? – CCR — Mar70

Smoke on the water – DEEP PURPLE – May72

Black magic woman — SANTANA — Jan71

Honky tonk women — THE ROLLING STONES – Sep69

Maggie May — ROD STEWART — Sep71

Polk salad AnnieTONY JOE WHITEOct69

Brown sugar — THE ROLLING STONES — May71

The story in your eyes – MOODY BLUES — Nov71

Hold your head up – ARGENT — Jun72

All right now – FREE — Sep70

Feeling alright – JOE COCKER — Sep69

Bang a gong – T REX — Feb72

No matter what – BADFINGER – Sep71

Stay with me – THE FACES — Feb72

Oye como va — SANTANA — Mar71

Band of gold – FREDA PAYNE — Jul70

Aqualung – JETHRO TULL — Jun71

Stairway to heaven – LED ZEPPELIN — Dec71