Performer: Peter Frampton
Songwriter: Peter Frampton
Original Release: Somethin’s Happening
Definitive Version: Frampton Comes Alive, 1976
I must have gotten Frampton Comes Alive either right before—or more likely right after—the big move from Greensview Elementary School to Hastings Junior High, because this song—the album opener, of course—stands out in the memory banks for that fall.
It was an awkward and scary time. You’re going from being king of the school to being 7th-grade scum doing what you have to do to avoid getting a swirly by all the big kids in 9th grade.
Throw into the mix puberty and the ugly face-rearranging, soul-shaking changes that brings on. Finally add that the previous month your mom and dad split permanently and announced that they were getting a divorce because your dad was seeing someone else. In about a four-month period, I went from being gregarious to withdrawn.
Shortly after the school year started, there was a 7th-grade mixer—my first real dance. I put on my best duds—a gray-blue shirt that was a print of white ponies running across a yellow-orange-red sunset. Yikes!
But I remember how nervous and excited I was to go, and before I left, I played Frampton Comes Alive—and this song—on my stereo in my bedroom, and I kept turning up the volume until I had it all the way up to 10. (Only the cool kids had stereos that go to 11.)
I was so nervous and excited, in fact, that I didn’t notice that I had left my entrance ticket behind. It was only when I got to the school and they opened the doors that I realized the problem. So there I sat on the outside patio wall while all the other kids rushed in to undoubtedly have the time of their life.
Eventually, one of the chaperones happened to notice me sitting out there by myself. And when I told him why I was sitting there like a mope, he said, well, just come on in anyway. I caught up quickly with my crew, which really meant just Marty, and the rest of the evening was OK.
And whom did I dance with that night? Are you kidding? Asking a girl that I liked to dance (badly) was far too scary a proposition for this pimply-faced, suddenly unsure-of-himself 12-year-old wearing a bad Disco shirt to handle.
And so it went with junior high.