Amazing Grace

Every UK Number One Song: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

What was the number one song in the UK on 15th April 1972?

“Amazing Grace” by The Pipes & Drums & Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards was number one on 15th April 1972 and stayed there for 5 weeks.

Another very popular instrumental that has lasted well since 1972. (Well sorta). I did some research about this hymn which was first written in 1779 by John Newton (1725 – 1807). Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with the ins and outs of this hymn.  Apparently it has been recorded some 7000 times as of September 2011 and the Guards got into a bit of trouble for this with their superiors.


The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, senior Scottish regiment of the British Army, recorded an instrumental version featuring a bagpipe soloist accompanied by a pipe and drum band. The tempo of their arrangement was slowed to allow for the bagpipes, but it was based on Collins’: it began with a bagpipe solo introduction similar to her lone voice, then it was accompanied by the band of bagpipes and horns, whereas in her version she is backed up by a chorus. It topped the RPM national singles chart in Canada for three weeks, and rose as high as number 11 in the U.S. It is also a controversial instrumental, as it combined pipes with a military band. The Pipe Major of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards was summoned to Edinburgh Castle and chastised for demeaning the bagpipes. Funeral processions for killed police, fire, and military personnel have often played a bagpipes version ever since.

It was based on Judy Collins version which was more of an anti war protest song against the Vietnam War.

So what was number one here downunder?

Two totally forgettable weeks of obscure songs.

What were we thinking with these songs. Both cringe worthy efforts, then we had this brilliant classic by Don McLean…

There were so many interpretations of this song but here is what Don McLean himself says about this classic:

In February 2015, McLean announced he would reveal the meaning of the lyrics to the song when the original manuscript went for auction in New York City, in April 2015. The lyrics and notes were auctioned on April 7, and sold for $1.2m.In the sale catalogue notes McLean revealed the meaning in the song’s lyrics: “Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. … It [life] is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense. The catalogue did confirm some of the better known references in the song’s lyrics, including mentions of Elvis Presley (referred to in the lyrics as “the king”) and Bob Dylan (“the jester”), and confirms the song culminates with a near-verbatim description of the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Free Concert, 10 years after the plane crash that killed Holly, Valens, and Richardson.

Here is a line by line interpretation:

This only reached number two in Great Britain!

Amazing Grace did reach number one here in June 1972 for three weeks. As usual we were behind the times. So that is my wander down memory lane for this week and it is now back to the future.


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Author: Raewyn
Author: Raewyn