24.9.08

Without music, life would be a mistake...

Well… just re-read my last post and after some serious cringing I have come to the conclusion that it was just a badly written thank you note to mah peeps (there’s that black thing again…). So in my present stone cold sober state, I’ll just say thank you and I’m very grateful for your presence in my life.

I was also going thru some of eM’s old posts last week. She’s like a celebrity of sorts now. From a famous blogger to a published author. Quite the feat. She writes pretty good. See… that’s my writing style. But if I were an author I’d jazz that up just a bit – “Her, often vivid, descriptive style of prose is quite becoming… especially her accounts of love and life in the urbane landscape of the towering metropolis… quite enthralling indeed.”

Nice eh?! Felt downright British there... by Jove!... ole Blighty… Tally ho… Spotted dick! (what the...??)

While I haven’t read it yet, I do intend to get me a copy and who knows maybe get it signed by her since she lives in this city now. Damn! That would be a first. I don’t have a signed book by a real live author... err... or a dead one either. So all of y'all need to go out there and buy a copy too. Help a fellow resident of Blogosphere make a few bux and all that.

So coming back to that post of hers – it was about certain songs from different times in her life. Which got me to thinking about some songs/artistes which are so ingrained in my mind that I swear there are times when I just need to think about them and I can literally hear the music in my head. Goosebumpy sh*t that…

So onto the list of 4:-

1. Beat It by Michael Jackson – I distinctly remember seeing the video of Beat It way back when on television. Now I might have been just a 5 year ole chile but my memory is absolutely crystal clear on this. And I remember it was shown in connection with some award ceremony. There was a blurry memory of a picture which looked something like a big tuba like thing in the bacground of the stage. It was only years later that I managed to connect the dots. That's right... I was watching the Grammys that night in '84 on Doordarshan. Till date, everytime I listen to this song, it never fails to gee me up. I think this song really started off my on-going love affair with rock. Killer guitar riffs along with that super fantastic solo by Eddie Van Halen (with that speed shredding and his signature tapping) really make this a standout track. Aural delights aside, this solo is a visual treat too. Take a gander at this.

2. Let's get rocked by Def Leppard – My first e-v-e-r rock song. In them days, mix tapes were the rage and pretty expensive to make as well. So when my buddy Z got one made by a local dj, he was kind enough to give me a copy. (btw said local dj went by the name of Aqueel – yup the same dj Aqueel of Yeh Vaada, Disco '82 etc fame) I remember Joe Elliot’s raspy voice in the intro demanding if I wanted to get rocked. And no sooner did the first few bars blast through my Panasonic cassette stereo, I surrendered. Def Lep holds a special place in my heart. British pop-rock at its best and their heavy use of vocal harmonies influenced us when we did our own songs. Hysteria and Adrenalize are two albums I will never grow tired of listening.

3. Billy Joel – I can’t really pinpoint any one song by Billy Joel because I pretty love 'em all. Again an artiste whose tape I must have run ragged on that trusty ole Panasonic a million times. If I had to pick, it would have to be Allentown, Its still Rock n Roll to me, Tell her about it, Movin’ out (Anthony’s song), The Longest Time, New York State of Mind, Just the way you are, This is the time… aah forget it... just waayyyy too many. Billy’s song writing is unfussy and uncomplicated. I've thought of him as a storyteller more than songwriter. His stories are mostly simple ones… but whether they are or not, they'll get to you coz thats the way he writes them. If there was one thing I could have just for a while, it would be to have the talent to write a love song the way Billy does and sing it for my woman.

4. Nothing else matters by Metallica – My first “metal” song or so I thought going by the band’s name. I’d been given a free copy of their self titled album (also referred to as the Black album) by a school buddy whose dad was a biggie with Universal Music (back then it was Music India Ltd). That cassette lay in one corner of my bookshelf for all of like six months gathering dust. I can’t quite remember why one day I tore off the plastic wrap and slid it into… you guessed it – the Panasonic. It definitely had to do with someone at school telling me I just HAD to listen to this particular song. Of course I was hooked after listening to the song the first time. Played it for another 4-5 times in a row which was a task considering all the rewinding I had to do. For the younger readers of this blog, Rewinding (and Fast Forwarding for that matter) was this process one had do with tapes in order to get to any song you wanted to listen to which was situated anywhere after the first song in a tape. Quite like shampooing - RWD/FFD --> Stop --> Play to check --> Repeat if necessary.

Special mention also about that musically confused/chaotic decade - the 80’s. With most other decades, there is an association of a genre with a particular decade - like blues and jazz for the 40's and 50's, rock for the 70's, grunge/alternative for the 90's, hiphop for the (early) 2000's. But the music from the 80's has always been referred to as that. 80's music. No particular genre ever made that decade its own. There was rock and pop and metal and rap... just one big mish-mash. Musically I am pretty much an 80's child. My sense of rhythm and melody developed from listening to the artistes and music of that era. The harder, harsher edge to my music probably stems from the grunge and alternative influences of the 90’s.

Of course there are a lot more songs… tons more in fact but I think I’d have to start another blog for that. Since lazy me has no intentions of doing so, I'll just settle for listening to some Def Lep and MJ and Billy and reliving some memories past.

Man I miss that Panasonic…

P.S - In connection with my 15.09.08 post, I came across a supercool video of Incubus at their concert in the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver. If you like the original song, then i think you will love this trippy bass heavy version of Drive.

23.9.08

The Big Three Oh

12:17

Another day… another year.

I hit 30. And thus goes a conversation with me and this foo called Life.

B - yo Life! I need to settle some scores with you dawg. About where you and me is at this point. I thought I oughta feel different but I don’t. I thought there be something more by now but there ain't. I thought I would be in another place, but I’m not. Just a feeling of unfinished business y’know.
Why did I think more would come of this day? Of this time?
My life seems the same it was not too many years ago. Why is that? Did I not warrant something special to happen to me by now? Did I not want that enough… whatever that might be or was I not enough of a man to get out there and seize my opportunities?
Am I content with what I am and where I am today? Don’t seem like it, if I’m here questioning you like this…

L – mah man… I am a mystery. Sometimes even to myself. I’ve seen a lotta bodies come and go. Some of them be commonplace… some not so. Some of them be punks… some not so. But some… some… they be the extra-ordinary. They be the unusual… the remarkable… sometimes even the curious. You’ve come across all of these in your short time here on this earth.
What did you do when you came across this myriad of specimens?

B - Some I ignored coz they weren’t worth it. Others I didn’t care for because they weren’t of much use in my life. But that some you mention…. Some
I call some of those my family… yet a few others my friends… In so many cases I wasn’t sure if I would ever be tight with these people. Yet not a day goes by that I’m not thankful enough for whatever reasons there might be, for these people wanting to be part of my life.

L – There are reasons… eventually you will come across them for what they are. They are in your life because they mirror you in so many ways. Its what brought you close in the first place.
Yet there are still life lessons to learn. What lacks in you is completed by them and in so many ways it goes around the other way too. So you turned 30 today… a lesson in itself. You got yourself this far didn’t you?! There are still some more miles to travel… some more lessons to learn… some you will learn from these you call family and friends. Still more from the people who are yet to come into your life…
It’s a waiting game son… when you reach that light shining at the end of the tunnel, I’ll be waiting there for you. And as you end this journey we shall both look back and then you can ponder on what I was all about.
You might just end up marveling at all the wonders you’ve seen…

Warning – The Author was completely fucked up, drunk out of his damn mind in a seriously inebriated state post his consumption of several vodkas and loud singing. This post shall be treated as a Rambling. No references of the same shall be made in future meetings with said Author. The Author would also like to assign culpability of the occasional use of 'black' language in the above post to the episodes of The Wire that he be watching recently, aight?!

15.9.08

Present State of Mind

11:27 pm

Incubus - Drive
Brandon Boyd: "The lyric is basically about fear, about being driven all your life by it and making decisions from fear. It's about imagining what life would be like if you didn't live it that way."


Incubus - An evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep
Drive - To impel or urge onward by force in a direction away from one

14.9.08

Casablanca

It's raining lightly as our young hero steps out of the fossil-fuel powered automobile. He looks towards the heavens and they look back down silently watching him as he sparks up his smoke. Tis be a quiet movie weekend unlike the tomfoolery that the hero and his comrades indulged in the previous Saturday night.

As they head inside the theatre, our hero looks forward to observing two stalwarts, from the land of Hollywood, sparring with each other, their cinematic skills and thespian fortitude tested on a righteous mission. As they enter the waiting area, he heads off in search of something to eat. Walking away, he hears one of his mates say “Isn’t that…?” And the rest of it trails away out of earshot…

While deciding what fare to indulge in, Sir Madman walks to him and says, “Did you see the Damsel? Or did you purposely ignore her?” Puzzled he asks, “Damsel is here?!” and looks over the Madman’s shoulder and immediately spots her. He’d recognize that head of hair anywhere. Suddenly a variety of emotions – happiness followed by panic, followed by Be-Cool-Idiot followed by more panic, and he does the only thing his slightly dazed brain can do. A smile and a wave.
Damsel comes over, arms opens and a 7.5 second embrace follows. Awkward silence, as our hero pulls back pondering what he could/should possibly say to her…

Damsel: hi, how are you? You look like you’ve lost some weight…
(Translation – Greetings & Salutations! The black shirt and dark jeans possibly makes you look thinner but then it’s also been almost 3 months since we saw each other)

Hero (casually shrugging): Ehhh…
(Translation – hi yourself, its great to see you too. You still look fine... very fine! the same. In all this time, I kept wondering if we’d run into each other sometime… somewhere. It felt almost right that we did… here… a place we’ve come to many a time before. Perhaps you feel the same. How are you? Work keeping you busy these days…?! Glad to know that you have healed enough to put on your dancing shoes. Keep at it with your musical endeavors coz I know you have a wonderful sense of/for the music. Which reminds me, weren’t you planning to go abroad sometime now…)

The Miner walks in and greets the Damsel. Feels like old times. Everyone dressed in regulation Saturday night denim-and-black garb. For a few seconds we were the same group from not long ago who were going in together to watch a movie. After some more conversation and laughs, she heads off to her mates and we follow shortly after.

Once the movie ends, our hero wonders if he’ll see her once more as they leave. His mind is miles away as he stares blankly at the gate guard, ticket extended waiting to collect his flamethrower. He takes it, mentally now galaxies away, and ambles towards the escalator. As he half turns a hand sticks out, waving at him and he weaves around it and moves down, thinking, “Oops I almost bumped into someone there…”
Escalator moves down and he steps off.

*10000 Watt light bulb flashes overhead*
Trring trring… “Hi, sorry was that you who just waved out to me?” With indulgent (hopes our friend) humor in her voice, due confirmation of the same is conferred.

Stepping out, he sees its still drizzling about the same way it was while coming in. Some nicotine is desperately needed. Deep drag. Followed by a deeper drag... And he starts to follow his group back to their vehicle. He sees her walking ahead of him and catches up trying clumsily to explain himself. Realizing what transpired at the escalator could be mistaken for a frigid ignore, some apologetic words are mumbled by him. She smiles… he smiles. All is forgiven.
They walk separately but in the same direction. As he is about to board his transportation, some final words are spoken. Goodbyes are exchanged.

As the scenes from the evening play out in his mind, our protagonist feels something akin to calm settle over him. A seemingly scary situation settled itself fairly quietly in the end. Positive thoughts course through him for the rest of the ride home.

As someone once said, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine…”


Dont know about you Bogey, but I'm glad she did.

6.9.08

For those about to Rock...

I've been goaded into making a post (you know who you are!)

Nothing major happened this week. Had a holiday on Wednesday coz of Ganpati. Mid week chuttis are so nice no?!
I was at V's house for Ganpati lunch something which I’ve been going for the past few years now. Her Mom makes the most awesome modaks... yummmm...

Of course the whole post-lunch discussion of "soooo-when-are-you-going-to-get-hitched?" was brought up. What’s with all Matashrees anyway?? I thought girls usually have the whole pressure thing exerted on them but even us guys too?!? Aaaahhh... So what if I’m turning 30 in a couple of weeks... Do I have to get married (or even consider it) just coz I’m turning the BIG THREE O. Nah I think not.
So as V's mom was going on about me getting her a bahu, V was rolling her eyes and giving me pitying looks probably thinking, "Oh you poor boy... I have soooo gone thru this not too long ago".

Lunch got done and I then headed to catch the early evening show of Rock On with the siblings and my pals J & A. I got tickets for this theatre in Mahim called Starcity (the artiste formerly known as Badal of the old Badal-Bijli twin theatres). Went there to try getting tickets before lunch. House Full on the board and as I turn away disappointed, I get psstt-ed at. "Boss, Rock On mangta hai kya?!" Aah what an idiot I was! Of course there is gonna be a tout at these places. So I asked him for 5 tickets and he said it'll cost me 750 (that’s a 150 bux a pop – yeah OK I needed a calculator for that). I’m used to paying no less than 200-300 for a single ticket whenever I go to a PVR or Cinemax or some such. Even for my math-challenged brain the cost of the tickets seemed far too less. It then clicked that I was in Badal of Badal-Bijli in Mahim fame and not a PVR Juhu or Fame Andheri. The original price of the ticket was Rs.100 wonly. I actually asked the blacker very sceptically, "Aap black mein hi bech rahen ho na??” Dude must have thought I'd smoked up some bad sh*t or something :)

Rock On wasn't as bad as I’d thought it would be. I remember telling the Miner that I fully expected this movie to be a complete dud. Regardless of its eventual reviews, I’d have watched this one anyway because I feel a connect with the movie. Having been part of a band myself long ago, I was always hoping someone would make a cool movie about bands, the lifestyle and the gig scene from an Indian context so this was nice to see.
My biggest disappointment with the movie was the soundtrack. Farhan might be a pretty good actor but he can’t sing. One song (the title track) for promotional purposes could have been done by him but not almost 60% of the tracks. I mean it’s a movie about a band for God’s sake. The music HAS to be good. Disappointing clich├ęd stuff by Shanker-Ehsaan-Loy and the sheets on which most of the lyrics were written were only good enough to be used as toilet paper. (What the fuck is - “Mere taash se heart ka king, mera ek chandi ka ring”) Javed saab apne bete ke vaaste, you could have written waaayyy better lyrics than that.
On a positive note, I loved Zehereelay sung by one of the true rockers of the Mumbai gig circuit in the 90’s – Suraj Jaggan (of Dream Out Loud). It’s a completely wannabe hard rock song where the movie makers I’m sure have tried to poke some fun at the stereotypical Black Tee and bandana clad bands you see on the Mumbai (or Indian) gig/club circuit. But the outstanding track for me is the wonderfully serene Phir Dekhiye sung by Caralisa Monteiro. Sweetly sung with a hint of coaxing and mischief in her voice, this is one lovely song. (Caralisa - Marry me!).

The ride back home after the movie brought back old memories of the band days…
- hanging with the guys while they were auditioning for vocalists…
- them finally picking me coz I was there (“yaar tu hi gaa le since you know everything”)
- our first ever gig which had more than 3000 people…
- getting the “shakes” so badly at the time that I nearly dropped the mic…
- playing in front of the totally biased (for us :) college crowd…
- the cute girls at the Sophiya’s college fest…
- our first television show/competition…
- getting hassled by the judges during said competition and in turn pissing them off…
- roaming the streets of Noida at 10pm trying to find booze so we drown our sorrows…
- Not finding any booze anywhere!...
- deciding we wanted to get into the Indi-pop scene…
- doing the rounds of record labels…
- getting shot down by all of them…
- all the support and affection of our family and friends who remain our biggest fans till date… (Man that last one almost sounds like a shout out on our never-released CD)

Funny thing is I look back now and believe we were a band ahead of its time. OK that might sound a wee bit like I’m full of it but its not… honest.
I’ll tell you what I mean… we started covering alternative rock bands and had a pretty mixed playlist. Of course we played the usual Bryan Adams, Queen, pop-rock stuff. But in them days there weren’t too many bands who were also playing Stone Temple Pilots or Goo Dolls or Green Day in the same set. A few years after we passed out, it seemed that every other band was playing stuff similar to ours. I don’t wanna say we were as good as Zero but when I first saw/heard them, it felt exactly like the kind of sound and material we would have done.
Then again when we tried to get into the Indi-pop scene. Our brand was straight up soft rock with Hindi lyrics (nice ones too unlike taashes and kings and sunglasses).
But no – “you guys sound too western… only guitar and drums and synth… you need to have more Indian instrumentation…”
Of course a few years down the line, one of the most popular bands on the scene is Strings. Soft rock with Hindi/Urdu lyrics. Just a case of (bad) timing I guess…

As I stared out of the window, I'm thinking perhaps we hadn't wanted it badly enough for it to happen. So many musicians have struggled for years before finally making or quitting it. In the end, there are no regrets. I stumbled into it almost accidentally and its influenced my life profoundly and probably made me a better person today.
I used to be a very introverted person back in college not to mention shy and quiet. Today I’m a lot more outgoing than I was then - I guess being the front man for a band will do that to you.

P.S – I still get the damn shakes