I thought it was the town; maybe it was just the music

My brain is still in holiday weekend mode so this is as good a time as any to dispose of this music meme that’s been going around listing the top songs from the year the writer graduated from high school. One thing I’ve been sad to see is that everyone else’s list is at least two years more recent than mine. So let’s climb into the Way Back Machine for a trip to 1976.

Here’s some background: part way through my junior year in high school our family moved from a big city to a small rural town in Missouri, 21 miles from the nearest of even the most basic teenage creature comforts such as a McDonalds. This was not a pleasing development for me. I’ve always figured I just didn’t like small town life; looking back at this list of the top hits and through thirty years of perspective it may be that I just didn’t like the music.

This meme calls for me to strikethrough the songs I hated, boldface the songs I liked and do nothing with the songs that were neutral. I’m also supposed to underline the best and worst, but I don’t have an underline function on my toolbar, so I’ve used asterisks. While there were a lot of bad songs to choose from for worst of the year, I’m going with Show Me the Way by Peter Frampton.

By itself it’s not any worse than the others, but it has a strong negative association. You see, my senior class left on a chartered bus immediately after our graduation ceremony for the Senior Trip to Daytona Beach. The bus had a tape deck and we started out with, I think, three different tapes. Within the first six hours, however, two of these had either broken or developed that tell-tale 8-track flutter. All we were left with was Frampton Comes Alive — over and over and over. Why didn’t we buy another tape at some point in the week-long trip? Well, Missouri had a 21-year-old minimum drinking age. Most of the states we were driving through had 18-year-old limits. Our resources were almost exclusively dedicated to buying beer, and — being high school graduates — we knew that the cheaper the beer, the more you could buy. So to this day I can’t hear Peter Frampton or see a can of Old Milwaukee without a sense of revulsion.

Best song? That’s easy, too: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Remember the scene in the movie Wayne’s World where Wayne, Garth and two friends lip sync in the car to this tune? I lived this, decades before it was captured on film. Otherwise, 1976 was a pretty dismal year for music, overall. If I sometimes seem a bit crabby on this blog you simply have to remember my early influences.

Anyway, here’s the list. If you want to play along with the year you graduated, here’s the link to the Music Outfitters site that has the lists.

1976

1. Silly Love Songs, Paul McCartney and Wings
2. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Elton John and Kiki Dee
3. Disco Lady, Johnnie Taylor
4. December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night), Four Seasons
5. Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry
6. Kiss And Say Goodbye, Manhattans
7. Love Machine (Part 1), The Miracles
8. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon
9. Love Is Alive, Gary Wright
10. A Fifth Of Beethoven, Walter Murphy and The Big Apple Band

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