A few weeks ago, I shared Music Behind Under the Western Sky, set in 1976. This isn’t my only story set in that same time period, though First Love isn’t published yet. The Seventies were an era of great music, no doubt about it. We had bands like Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Gary Wright. Fantastic songs filled the airwaves and my characters, like me and my friends, listened to each new song with enthusiasm.
I did a lot of research so that I would have the right songs for the year. Though I lived through this era, my memory for when each song came out, was kind of faulty. I enjoyed revisiting songs from my past and now sharing them with you. One of the first songs mentioned is Love is Alive by Gary Wright. No visit to the Seventies would be complete without Stairway to Heaven. This song evokes strong emotions even today. I also mention the album Blow by Blow by Jeff Beck. This album woke a love in me for this kind of music and I’ve been a fan of Beck, and others like him, since.
We begin with a road trip from Western Nebraska to New Mexico. A group of high school students from a church youth group, are on a mission trip over the summer. Traveling together, they have to compromise on some things, but the one area where they are all in agreement is the music they want to hear—the good stuff, (which does not included Barry Manilow, who was very popular at the time.)
“Can we have on the radio, Mr. C?” Brad asked. “Mrs. C wanted to play Barry Manilow. It was a unanimous veto on that.”
“What makes you think I don’t like Barry Manilow?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Because you’re too cool to think It’s a Miracle for Mandy to Be Somebody’s Baby over on Avenue C,” Brad replied.
The boys gave him an evil eye.
“You know an awful lot about Barry Manilow,” Maddie said. “Are you sure you aren’t a closet fan?”
“My mom listens to Manilow like—all day and forces me to pollute my mind with his lyrics. But when she’s gone, I put on some Hendrix or a little Jeff Beck and rock the rafters.”
“I’m not much for Manilow either,” Craig admitted. “Okay. Maddie, pick a station.”
Delighted at being given that honor, she reached for the dial and turned it for a few seconds before coming to an audible station. The new, but familiar, opening strains of Love is Alive filled the car.
“Leave it there!” the boys yelled.
Maddie passed it, just to tease them, but went right back to it. She happened to like the song too. By the first chorus, they were singing with Gary Wright. Brad played air guitar, imitating the part to perfection. Clayton took bass. Daniel beat on the back of the seat to the drums. Maddie and Richard sang, harmonizing together. Craig bounced to the beat, tapping the steering wheel. They cheered when the song ended.
“Danny, you got that Zeppelin tape with you?” Craig asked when the radio went to commercial.
“Got a perfectly good cassette player up here. Toss it up.”
Seconds later, the tape was in the player and cranked up. Stairway to Heaven filled the air. This time, they made Maddie sing solo because none of them could hit the notes like Robert Planet, except her.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes