The Song That Got People Laid That Summer by Brad Rosen

Editor Matty Byloos, Music, October 19th, 2015

"Peter Frampton, you came alive alright, and you created a monster."

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That damn song that summer. You couldn’t go anywhere in the hell’s high waters to escape it. I mean it was everywhere. And if you ever did get lucky enough that you found yourself where it couldn’t get a hold of your ears, you knew in your heart that it was still stuck down there in the deepest dungeons of all your memories.

Peter Frampton, you came alive alright, and you created a monster.

I don’t know why Peter Frampton called that song Do You Feel Like We Do instead of Do You Feel Like I Do. I suppose it was kind of a hippie inclusion thing, the we, and in 1976 playing hippie still hadn’t gone out of fashion. That song, that summer, more responsible for more people getting laid than any other summer except for maybe the “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” summer, but that is a whole nother thing altogether. That Frampton all aphrodisiactic because of them five words that he made his guitar sing. It was as if Peter Frampton give his guitar a mouth and when you was laying in your bed with them headphones on and your eyes closed you could see that guitar and them lips and tongue of it and you could watch as them words come flowing off them strings. And one of them words was a cuss word, the king of all cuss words. The fuck. He made his guitar sing, “I wanna fuck you.” It was constantly on the radio. Reasons being that they could play a cuss word like that so blatantly on all them airwaves was because the fuck word wasn’t really a man or woman saying it but a guitar and I suppose that makes all the difference. That fuck word being disguised by some kind of guitar effect pedal hocus pocus where Peter sang into a kind of tube that come down off his microphone stand and went into his guitar and it made them words he was singing ending up sounding like some kind of robot pouring its heart out on some planet with half as much oxygen on its surface as anything that could support human life as we know it.

Not that oxygen matters much to a robot.

Still, them words, they was as beautiful as they was pornographic.

That Peter Frampton and his guitar ahead of their time. The sound one robot makes to another when it wants to fuck. Brilliant. Frampton making the guitar do his dirty work the way a roadie hands out back stage passes.

I’ll never forget it. Me lying on the flat roof of a Volkswagen Van. Courage is what we named it, the van. Courage mostly orange with a white top and all them windows that wrapped around it so you could see the world. Courage, our church, our steeple, our open up the doors so you could see to all the people. Me laying up there on the flat part of the roof toward the end of the day of an Arizona desert afternoon. My lungs pushing the hot air out of my harmonica into the light blue pure of the desert sky above me. Me playing along to what else but that Frampton Comes Alive that Big Pete was cranking out of the speakers of Courage. Frampton’s guitar singing out loud. Crisp and clean. The tone of his notes as apple as an American piece of humble pie.

I was thinking of Vanessa Rodrigos, my first. I was thinking about what her double D boobs looked like when they was trapped inside a bra too small and hidden underneath the comfort of a loose fitting white cotton top.

That Frampton, belting out them lyrics.

“Woke up this morning, wine glass in my hand. Whose wine, what wine? Where in the hell did I dine?”

We was on the Colorado River except we wasn’t in Colorado, we was in Arizona. Drove out from the Los Angeles. Me and Big Pete and the Wayne. We was on an all guys weekend on account of at the time none of us had a girlfriend anyway. We was all just coming off them stinking kinds of break-ups that take your heart out and set it gently into the food bowl that sets out there waiting in the garage for the local neighborhood feral cat. Wayne, well, he was probably more used to break ups than either me or Big Pete, ‘cause he was always getting them kinds of rejections from girls. But me and the Big Pete’s hearts was especially fucked up on account of we had got both of our hearts broke by the same girl. The one and only Evelyn. I could go on and on about it for forever but that would take up a whole tome of time me telling you and I do not believe we have that kind of tome-ish time.

One thing I can tell you is that me and Big Pete, we already made up all about it and I think we was bound and determined not to let nothing get in the middle of our friendship again and so that is one of reasons why we drove all that way. To start marking them bygones be bygones. To mark a new beginning and celebrate cause we was always in for a celebrations. And also I suppose, mostly I suppose, because it was still at the time when the drinking age in Arizona was only 19.

It was the summer of the nineteen hundred and seventy six, the year of our country tis of thee’s bicentennial and it was the Fourth of July and we was going to make it a night we would remember forever because we drove all the way out to where they had set up the real London Bridge that they had brought all the way over from England and rebuilt again there right there on the edge of the Lake Havasu City.

It was Wayne’s idea.

That bridge all grey brick and mortar.

“Who would’ve thunk it?” Wayne said. “Them bringing that mother fucker all the way over here. Heavy son of a bitch. How they got it all the way over the pond beats me.”

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but that Wayne, he was a patriot through and through.

He jabbed at my shoulder with the blunt of his fist.

The way his whole face could smile when he talked, “The pond,” he said. “You get that Bunk? The pond. That’s a gentleman’s way of saying ocean.” His voice changed into an accent. “What ya say ol’ chap?” he said. “How’s about me and you heading over the bloody pond and scraping up some blimey lasses?”

Wayne with all his gentle beauty, his being of Native American. Strong. The slender prominence of his nose. The black night pitch of his long hair. The way his hair pulled the light into it and made it shimmer as if it was more of a part of the air than it was of the earth. The earth that was his skin of a burnt sienna wax.

“Them fucking Brits Bunkie, who would have thunk it back in 1776?” he said. “That their precious fucking bridge would end up right here in our own backyard?”

Fucking Wayne, he sure did say fuck a lot.

We had bought a twelve pack of Budweiser’s and headed down to where the bridge was parked. Lots of people in and on it and around it. It didn’t take long for that crowd to start getting on like they was some rambunctious ten year old. Some rambunctious ten year old drinking cans of beer and blowing up a bunch of weed. All of ‘em mostly kids my age of nineteen. All of ‘em out celebrating the life and the irrevocable necessity that is youth.

Some boat had joined in with the parade of other boats that was circling in and under and around the bridge. The boat as long as a short bus. That boat painted an all white, a deck that run all around it and a wheelhouse pushing up out of the middle of it. I always thought it would be cool to live in a tug boat like that. Still do. Like a Mark Twain. Like a Humphry Bogart. ‘Cept for if you had a dog. Would be a hard place for a dog to have to go to the bathroom. It’s not like a dog that can pick up his dick and piss right off the side of a boat into a lake like I can.

That tug boat had some speakers all set up on the deck. Them speakers up on some poles that was raised up fore and aft. Them speakers, wouldn’t you know it, them speakers blaring out the guitars and them lyrics to that Frampton Comes Alive.

There was girls around me everywhere. Girls around in them high heels with them painted toes and them short skirts and shorts and them halters and bathing suit tops. Them girls holding onto each others hands or riding around on the shoulders of their boyfriends backs.

Peter Frampton’s guitar, “I wanna fuck you.”

A light on the deck of the boat bright like a lighthouse. That light brightening up the shore and the bridge and most anything there was around it. That light making shadows fight on what was the underneaths of the London Bridge. The smell of a river colder than the air that makes that metal kind of taste in the back of your mouth. That boat getting close to the shore. Ten or so guys on it drinking beer out of a keg they had stuck in a silver gray wash tub right there on the deck. Them guys waving their beers and them little American flags on sticks in the air, partying, singing.

“Do you feel like we do? Oh that’s true.”

The boat under the arches of the London bridge now. The boat is close to the dock that is there that is the shore. The crowd moves in together as one cow. There is beer on the boat. The cows have the bare naked chests of teenagers. Skinny or bellied, barefooted or sandled or tennis shoed no socks.

Wayne standing there close enough for me to put my arm around. Big Pete standing there next to him close enough for him to put his arm around Wayne. Big Pete with his long blonde hair and his old weathered suede hat turned up in a banana boat. All of us with our beers. Our Budweiser’s. Budweiser is our choice. It is always our choice.

“You seeing all this?” I said.

“Dumb asses,” Wayne said.

“Going to be a movie,” Big Pete said.

We wasn’t engineers, not one of the three of us, but we all had our instincts.

Them cows, they all wanted beer.

Them girls grabbing them boy’s hands, them hands pulling them girls over onto the boat. Them boys in their bare chests that pushed out the cigarette’s smoke. Them girls in their bathing suits and halter tops breasts.

Them speakers pushing out the Frampton. Them speakers pushing out his British accent in our America under their London Bridge. Them speakers pushing out youth and freedom. Them speakers pushing out sex. The bicentennial. The American flag that stuck off the boat’s bow waving in airs. Them fucking fireworks started up throwing them bomb’s burstings. Them colors rainbow electric sticking you in the eye. The brick by brick drabby gray of the London Bridge hovering under all that was violent above. The water a dull brown underneath acting flawed mirror for them lights that come down and skate and dive over and in and around and through it.

More of the herd moving onto the boat, thick, thickest where the kegger of beer was. The girls on top of the roof of the wheelhouse shouting and carrying on, waving their cups of beer to all of us standing on the land and watching.

The herd gathering thicker, the boat lower and lower into the water from the weight. The man, wearing the captain’s hat, older than the rest, pushing and shouting, the man actually pushing people off the boat. The people’s splashes landing in the water. The herd does not stop. The people continuing to push onto her. I do not know why they call a boat a she rather than a he. The boat lower and lower still. The music loud.

The guitar with no British accent at all. The guitar with the accent of electric strings and a warbled machine, “I wanna fuck you.”

The boat is taking on water. The herd is undaunted, unyielding, with purpose. The keg. Beer and teenagers in a new land. The drinking age is nineteen. They have even more reason to drink. No one is getting off the boat except for the occasional one who falls. More people jump onto the boat from the dock. The drinking age is nineteen. The water moves over the top of the boat’s rails and into its bowels. The boat is taking on even more water. The water becomes heavier than the boat. The people figure it out. They start to jump off the boat. Some onto the dock, some over the rails into the water. There is no chance for the boat.

The sound of Frampton comes alive becomes heavy too. It sinks into the water and disappears.

The man is swimming in the water after his floating captain’s hat.

Wayne takes a big slurp off his can of beer.

“Cops are going to come,” Wayne said.

“Yeah,” I said. “Let’s get out of here.”

Big Pete pulling a cigarette out of his pack. Stuck it in his mouth and lit it. The end of the cigarette doing a dance when he sang, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.”

I started singing the next part.

“Take a key and lock it up, lock it up, lock it up.”

Wayne, he sang the last part. “My fair lady.”

A cop car was barreling through the parking lot, blue and red light’s flashing.

“God bless America,” Big Pete spoke.

We got into Big Pete’s van and started driving up river to the floating bar called Foxes that Wayne had heard about. It was built on pontoons on the Arizona side. The shore on the other side of the river was California. First time I ever remembered seeing two states at the same time. First time I had ever been to a bar that floats. First time we was ever going to be able to drink in a bar legal. The radio off. Us singing that London Bridge nursery rhyme song the whole way it took us to get to the bar. No Peter Frampton. For once that summer, no peter Frampton.

Parking the van and locking the doors. The hot desert making spirits of air rise from the gravel parking lot. A band playing out back on the wooden deck. A cover band. Of course they was playing Frampton. Frampton Comes Alive. The lead guitar player had one of those tubes running up the side of his mic stand. I knew what it was. It was one of those tubes that ran into a machine that could make your guitar talk.

“I wanna fuck you.”

There was girls in there. Lots of girls. I had a wad of money in my pocket. Wayne had some cocaine in his. Big Pete, he had all them ways that he could talk to everybody that made us friendly.

Frampton Comes Alive.

We was in it for the night.

Let freedom ring.

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If you enjoyed this piece, then you might also like “Hank & the Midnighters” by Brian Reid, here.

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Bradley K. Rosen essay nailed magazineBradley K. Rosen was awarded a Bachelor of Music from the University of Oregon in 1998. He played for twenty five years as a professional rock musician before settling down in the Portland area. He still plays drums in a local rock group and plays timpani with two community orchestras. He has recently finished his first novel, The Bunkie Spills and is currently working on his second novel, which involves a taxidermied cat and nine lives. His work may be found in the anthology The Frozen Moment (Publication Studio), as well as in The Portland Review (Fall 2013 Issue 60.1).

 

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Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).