(A brief disclaimer: I don't dislike Peter Frampton. Keep that in mind.)
Back to music, or at least something related to music...
Two thoughts have converged in this post, one related to music, the other to new words.
Recently Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary has been in the news for adding new words from popular culture; a few years ago they added "google" and "unibrow", for instance. In that spirit, I'd like to propose a new word:
Because it needs to be in there, of course.
And why did this come to mind?
Because of the radio, and what's playing on it.
Over the past few years, the "oldies" station in Atlanta (97.1 The River, formerly Fox 97) has shifted its playlist away from the 1960's into the 1970's. This isn't surprising given the "30 year cycle", which as of the present (2008) plants us firmly in the decade of bellbottoms, mood bracelets, and pet rocks, although now we're towards the end of it (2008 - 30 = 1978). I'm not complaining; it's about time that someone stepped in to fill the gap, especially since the other classic rock station (96.1) has mutated into a haven for thrash-metal and other frights of sound. And one can only handle so many replays of The Supremes and Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" without wanting to scream.
But there comes a price, and part of that price is: Peter Frampton. And when we talk about Peter Frampton, naturally we focus on his live opus, Frampton Comes Alive! And when we talk about Frampton Comes Alive!, naturally we focus on particular tracks...such as "Do You Feel Like We Do".
And why? It's the talkbox, stupid. We just can't get enough of it. Sure, it's a cheesy 70's synthesizer sound, easily put to shame by the high-tech jobs we can wield nowadays, ones that can convincingly immitate different instruments and voices. But we still love it (we just can't admit it).
Apparently, so did Frampton's concertgoers (recorded in concerts in 1975 at Winterland Auditorium in 'Frisco and Long Island Area in NY, in case you're curious). In fact, they really, really loved it! Listening to the track, it's quite obvious when Frampton is ready to strap on the talkbox, because they get near-hysterical. It's the sort of audience response that most veteran bands bask in, and most new bands would kill to have.
But viewed in the cold light of day more than thirty years later, one has to wonder why they go so apes**t over what Frampton gives them in this song: a few volleys of clever, prolonged scat-singing, to be sure, but mostly just mouthing "do you feel like we do?" After every four of five syllables of this they erupt in spasms of joy. I mean, really?? One can search in vain for another live album where the audience does anything similar. Even the frenzied audience from B.B. King's classic Live At The Regal doesn't succumb to this kind of adulation; they actually let B.B. finish his musical "sentences" through their full 12-bar format before applauding, and they don't lose themselves over every two or three notes. Compare the two albums, and you have to wonder whether Frampton's audience really appreciated his work, or if they were just caught up in the massed insanity of "the moment".
This isn't unique to Frampton. During his tenure in Cream, Eric Clapton recalled one concert where he came out and simply hung his guitar from a chain suspended from the lights...and the crowd cheered for almost ten minutes---without his even playing a note! Frampton's audience is a bit better---they actually wait for real playing---but you get the sense that they're there just to be say they were there, not to actually hear anything impressive. If Frampton had talkboxed say, the Gettysburg Address, or Hamlet's soliloquy, it would have been more deserving of such ridiculous appreciation than just..."do you feeeel?" (hysteria) "...like we dooo?" (more hysteria).
So, I'd like to propose a new word in recognition of this unique occurence:
Framptonody (n): an act of unrestrained and undeserved approbation for particular sections of a musical performance, rather than for the totality of the performance itself; beer- and blunt-induced ecstasy at the most mundane of occurences.
P.S.: Lest you think that I'm a stiff-necked, clueless mood-killer who "just doesn't get" Frampton, I have to confess: I love it when that song comes on, and I especially love the talkbox section. But I just can't resist the urge to be contrarian...It's what I do best.