Sunday, August 10, 2008

the b-side of this whole rock music thing

Sunday releases me from my newspaper dilemmas - I get 6 papers and spend the mornings voluptuously drowning in their various registers. Today's Times Life! quoted Riddhima Kapoor sister of Ranbir, saying "Ranbir has a wide social circle compromising both sexes." Now I see why the boy is a gay icon. 

Also I read one of those survey type interviews with the heroines of Bachna Ae Haseenon, where they were asked to complete lines like - I am turned on by a man if he.... /I get bored by men who... etc.

In a bad habit I have had since I could read These Are a Few of My Favourite Things in Stardust, I imagined myself as a famous and sexy person being asked these sorts of pertinent questions. This would qualify as the most serious thing I did today unless you count eating last night's left over olive hummus and drinking a glass of rose as a noontime snack. I agreed with Minissha Lamba that what I like about men is that, well, they are men, my most heartfelt response was to I am bored by men who....think Pink Floyd is the eternal best thing in music - and nothing else is worth it.

Frankly nothing irritates me more. But there's an entire edifice supporting this provincial superiority.

I always associate this sort of music with something conservative - because it's the favourite of boys who go to IIT - because of which I call it IIT music - or IIM and BITS, Pilani - and the favourite of people who sit around talking fondly of college which seems to have been a Cliff Richards movie for them, bachpan ke din bhi kya din the, type of thing as if there was no angst, no doubt, no hatred of the cool gang.... oh wait! That's because they were the cool gang! Or what passes for cool when you're young which is a sort of alpha conformism, an all-rounder existence of no radical or even rather uncoventional choices, primed to believe every cliche the advertising world will seduce you with and to credulously use the trend-phrases coined by Sunday colour supplements (today's discovery being "alpha female" - what used to be called superwoman as a comment on how difficult it is for any human woman to manage work and home and all else - but alpha female sounds like you can become one just by gymming often enough and religiously following the cleanse, moisturise, tone routine, no?). 

Anyway - for me that sort of musical monomania simply means a rigid nostalgia, a cultural varnashram system whereby you will only be exposed to certain types of music (and in the case of my generation this would be the previous generation's music). Thereby you will be the prime consumer of this music in some theme night or theme bar or whatever. Because you won't change tastes, acquire new ones, lose old ones - or indulge in nostalgia only very occasionally. I'm sorry to say that my Bengali friends do this the most.

Soon after thinking all these irritated thoughts I read an interview with Farhan Akhtar wrt the new film Rock On! - with no irony there - (I already don't want to see it - what sort of embarrassingly credulous, passe title is that?- but I will have to because of knowing people who worked on it). In this he says - the best music ever is - Pink Floyd. Sigh. Well not like any idols are keeling over in my mind or anyting, but STILL!

And it is with these thoughts that i came to read this article - and though I haven't read the book obviously, I already felt like I may not agree with it so totally, but still some bits, um, rocked? - no, they echoed some half articulated thoughts I had. For instance:


"Since at least the appearance of the first issue of Rolling Stone in 1967, it has been a common assumption that popular music, particularly rock and roll, is about social change....

...The great fallacy at the center of this thesis is that the cultural explosion that occurred when rock began carried such a heady charge because it was about overturning societal norms. In fact, the music was reinforcing orthodoxies that are as old as mankind. Put simply, most rock and pop songs, from Chuck Berry through the Beatles and including the latest single from Coldplay or Justin Timberlake, are about love. Not polygamous, destructive, selfish love, but about love for another person, monogamous love, spiritual love that transcends the laws of nature -- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "She Loves You," "My Love." Pop songs are about heavenly love and the attempt to attain such love on earth.

There are, of course, exceptions. There are rock songs that are about rebellion and revolution, but they rarely become popular. "


You can say Pink Floyd are not all about love and all that. You may be right but you won't get no satisfaction from me.

3 comments:

Banno said...

Hey, I spent hours as a kid giving grand interviews for Stardust, and imagining myself on the last page with My Favourite Things.

As I heard Pink Floyd first when I got to FTII, I found it a little annoying myself. Now, reading this, I understand that what irritated me was the smugness of the people who listened to it, and hummed/sang along .

I like the jumble of your thoughts on a Sunday morning.

chamcham said...

I really should be writing on my blog, not yours. Anyway. Who wrote that boring BORING sounding piece about rock music? My first (and sometimes I think my only) friend was Bob Dylan, and he didn't have too much to do with love. Plus, after 1962, he's the God of all rock (and I suppose pop) musicians. He made the Beatles so nervous that Allen Ginsburg had to crack a few silly jokes so that they could get talking to each other. Anyway, he scolded them and they wrote less of the love stuff after that, or so Mr. Dylan and the surving Beatles claim.

Totally agree about how IIT made Pink Floyd irritating - air guitar etc. - but the band did do some INTERESTING stuff. As did other people like Lou Reed and Janis Joplin and Neil Young and Grace Slick and - need I go on and start sounding like the guy who wrote that article probably hoping to get his PhD grant for the Deconstruction of the Medieval Love Lyric in Contemporary Popular Culture. A lot of rock music was about rebellion and revolution and very popular. And a lot of the revolution IS the music - the totally obscene sound an electric guitar makes, or weird weird electronica beyond anything Mr. Glass can dream up. Ok I'll stop now.

parotechnics said...

Chamcham:I agree the article is stretching an expostulation into a thesis. But although I like Dylan and willing to concede PFs interestingness - it's not about that - it's about the calcification, the canonising, the deifying of artists and all the fundamentalisms that follow. Believe me, when you've had to spend as much time with folks from the 70s who keep singing Dylan songs, or think music ended with PF, you're going to start thinking Anu Mallik might be more revolutionary and more interesting.