Oh How The #FlashbackFriday – And The Years – Go By!

If yesterday’s commercial made you giggle, today’s may do the opposite.

At least, that’s what it does to me.

Commercials are meant to trigger a certain response, using humor to illicit your car-buying dollars, appealing to your emotions, reminding you of the simple things in life, and nostalgia. That’s a big deal to most – the reminder of happier times, or just “the old days” in general are big influences on spending.

Today’s commercial is not meant to sell a product or promote a service, but instead to remind you that whenever something happened – good, bad, or otherwise, a certain network was there to cover it, to tell the story. Filmed for the network itself, but localized for the station this aired on, this commercial was longer than your average commercial – two minutes! It features the song “Oh How The Years Go By,” which was originally performed by Amy Grant on her 1994 album House of Love (great album).

Grant’s version failed to chart on its release, but Vanessa Williams’ 1996 version (from her 1997 album Next) reached #6 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, and it was her version, clearly the better-known version, that was featured in the commercial.

Featuring on-air personalities Al Roker, Gabe Pressman, and the personalities of New York’s NBC station, WNBC 4, this commercial is meant to remind us that no matter what, NBC was there for everything newsworthy.

There’s also historical footage and soundbites that round out this incredible display of a commercial.


It is a beautiful commercial.

And if you must know, it is the “New York Yankees are World Series Champions!” part that gets me! The clip shown was in 1978, but in 1996, I watched it happen – I got home from Six Flags Great Adventure just in time!


The imagery of this commercial is incredible – from the children watching historical footage, to the clips and soundbites, to the Sign Language Interpreter, right down to this unbelievable image…

Look at the background.

This was 1998 – those beautiful towers still stood tall and proud on the New York skyline. If nothing else – and I mean nothing else – gets you about this, look at this and tell me it doesn’t move you.

I first saw this commercial in the late summer of 1998, after a Saturday Night Live “Best Of” (they aired alot of those that summer). I know because it was on the tape I was recording the “Best Of” on…until I accidentally taped over it. I did get some redemption though, when it wound up on a tape before another Saturday Night Live compilation in January 1999. I believe there was a shorter version of this commercial (I don’t have it), but this version aired usually after Saturday Night Live and prior to primetime programming, more than likely due to its length.

On the tape I got this from, it came after whatever had been airing prior to the Saturday Night Live compilation at 8 pm – I ID’d it because I taped the end of whatever had been on before it – something NFL-related. I never saw it in primetime, but for someone like me, who stayed up late and taped so many Saturday Night Live episodes as a teenager, I was lucky enough to see it multiple times that season.

I’ve been thinking of when the “right time” was going to be to show this commercial, and considering everything going on in the world, and how things have changed so much in the 21 (almost 22) years since this commercial first aired, now is the right time. It hits hard, but it is incredible.

Since this was obviously a localized version, I’m betting there are others from the local markets. I don’t see any on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

We fight, we laugh, we cry, the years go by…and NBC will be there.

Such a powerful commercial.

And to think, it came before a major national tragedy. Can you imagine a commercial like this in the post-9/11 era?

Something to think about.

Have a fantastic Flashback Friday, and a great weekend!

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