For many, there’s a place in hell for that smooth, lush genre of music known as soft rock. I nurture no such prejudices. In fact, I must admit to even liking some tunes that are regularly openly criticized as cheesy and at best considered as guilty pleasures.
Peter Frampton, formerly of Humble Pie, was for a while the genre’s biggest exponent. Frampton Comes Alive, released in 1976, peaked the charts for many weeks and is one of the best-selling live albums ever. To me, there’s nothing strange about the fact that he was, at one point, the biggest music star in the world. What is interesting is that the music he played was aimed at a younger audience, whereas today, it would be considered “adult contemporary.”
There’s nothing cool about Frampton nor “Baby, I Love Your Way,” a song that is dull and with bland, uninspired lyrics about, perhaps, living in the moment and promoting casual sex. What is interesting about this song is that it seems to have perfectly coincided with a moment in popular culture that possibly only people who lived it truly understand. It is for this reason that Nick Hornby used it for a pivotal moment in High Fidelity, where the heartbroken protagonist bursts into tears.
“Clouds are stalking islands in the sun / I wish I could buy one, out of season / But don’t hesitate, ’cause your love won’t wait.”