A rather humorous and fun observation not long ago, something you very rarely hear in this day and age of blaring and offensive hip hop music and synthetic sounding rock and pop. Sorry, must be my age, but I’ve just never liked hip hop and rap, even the painfully poetic, gritty stories of social decay interspersed with a fusillade of f-words.
So, I was walking around the small lake near my home and what should I hear that gladdened my day and brought back a raft of memories from a very special year in The Seventies? It was none other than an older gentleman taking his walk also (probably around my age) whose iPod was modestly blaring out Peter Frampton’s signature song from his 1976 mega-hit live album, “Frampton Comes Alive”. I couldn’t believe it. I was hearing “Show Me the Way.” It just seemed so incongruous. Every now and then a car whizzes by with the stereo blasting some hit from the 50s, 60s or 70s, bit it’s exceedingly rare. It’s usually some BabyBoomer in a Mustang convertible or Restored Camaro having a second mid-life crisis.
For those out there who aren’t old timers, Frampton’s live performances were legendary, and his 1976 album was, at that time, and for a while thereafter, the biggest selling album in history. I never got that much into it except for a couple of songs, but “Show Me the Way” will forever live in my memories.
The year 1976 was a really good one for me in that I was working at a nonprofit which was doing remarkable work with people with disabilities and their families. I was in charge of fund raising and public relations, but my big project was producing a yearbook for the organization. I took pictures of all the clients and their teachers and houseparents, and all the staff. I designed and produced the book with photos I had taken over months and developed at a friend’s darkroom way out in the country. This was really a custom production. I would have a long drive out of the city, and along a rural road to get there, and would return sometimes very late at night on that dark empty highway. Of course, I had the radio on and I can’t tell you how many any times I listened “Show Me the Way.”
Looking back, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about because his voice was not that great, frankly, but I think it was his youthful enthusiasm and good looks, the classic 70s long hair, and just the fact that it was The Seventies, dammit. What a crazy decade! And there was something undefinably catchy about that particular song, And so, Frampton is indelibly stamped in my memory for his song’s association with that huge project of which I was so proud. And I was young then, and in the midst of my formative years. There would never be another time like The Seventies.
I’ve recently come to a greater appreciation of Frampton because of his masterful guitar playing.
Here are a couple of YouTube clips I particularly enjoy:
Show Me The Way
Jamming’ with The Ventures at their 30th anniversary Super Session in 1989
Live in Detroit, 1999