The photo was taken in my grandparents' living room on Lyons Avenue in Welland, Ontario. My dad looking through the lens and catching me in the act of opening a Christmas present. I don't want to tell you what album it is. Something I wanted at age 13. Harry, my grandfather, hamming it up with a sweater.
My teen years were difficult. I know some of the best of you can relate. Anxiety was in high supply. The medical community at the time was asleep when faced with the symptoms in children. Help was not available, and the culture was tilted toward shame and secrets. My survival instincts were quick. I was always ready to fight for my safety. There's more to say but consider this a start.
Gosh, to sit beside Harry again. A mostly stable male with a pleasant disposition.
I watched all the music shows growing up. Late Friday night and early Saturday afternoons — The Midnight Special, American Bandstand and the far superior Soul Train. The sound of Don Cornelius' baritone. At 11 and 12, I danced in front of the television in the basement to the Commodores, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, Gloria Gaynor and The Jackson 5.
I was fat and self-loathing, with puberty approaching like a freight train. We were living in a new, much smaller town. I could cut a slice of loneliness. Music and dancing gave me a temporary sense of belonging.
The best radio station on the dial in Goderich was broadcast across Lake Huron — CKLW out of Windsor. The lights of the Detroit skyline across the river at night. I'd drift asleep listening to Motown and R & B on a transistor radio. In the quiet, it helped drown the noise of my feelings (and on some nights the sound of my mom being thrown around).
Frampton Comes Alive was released in 1976, the year I turned 13. I tried a lot of stuff for the first time during that 12 months. In a state of rebellion, on the express track to maturity. I felt sure growing up would change the way I felt about everything. And I had a sense of youthful optimism about how long that would take.
Chuck pulled hard enough on the reigns that I could taste the metal bit. He played offence with any male attention that came my way. Under his control, I missed out on a young women's experiences, like dating. But I came to this planet and my family with a Big Will. His battle was futile (there's a grand finale story).
By 1 a.m. on Friday nights, I was home in the basement, buzzing on a substance I'd ingested earlier. Had to pass my dad reading in the living room as I came in, trying to avoid eye contact — mine were glassy with pinhead pupils. I'm sure the moss-tar scent of hashish trailed me some nights — inhaling the vapour that rose from between two red hot knives. In the days when an ounce of Mexican cost thirty dollars. I once came home mid-acid trip, which I do not recommend.
By then, I was listening to rock anthems. I have a soft spot for drum solos and guitar players with mad skill.
Wolfman Jack was the affable host of The Midnight Special. All The Bands were on the show. For a girl like me, it was a perfect musical nightcap.
Peter Frampton's appearance on Friday, September 5, 1975, is a classic performance. Ten whole minutes for one song. Maybe that's the first time I saw him perform. His skill as a guitarist. A beloved studio musician.
Afterward, I'd flick the lights off on the three short flights of stairs up to my bedroom, where the walls were plastered with Creem and Hit Parade magazine posters. Long-haired rock stars, Frampton among them. His blond curly locks and pink satin pants inspired some nocturnal fun.
"Do you feel?
Do you feel?
Like we do.
I want to feel you."
Forty-six years later, I still love the sound of the audience clapping along and the crazy-wavy drone of the mouth organ. Double album, remember those?
The way Helen Reddy flicks her bangs while introducing him. Girl!
Friday September 5, 1975
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