Monday, December 11, 2006

HAIL TO THE DECK Part- II



The end of the 20th Century and my brother’s fading guiding light ushered the end of Deck’s immunity to frequent voltage fluctuations, dust, moisture and the never-ending ritual of eject-start-pause-play-eject-fwd-play-hey-play-play-dammnit. First the tuner said goodbye, then I paid my respects to the CD changer followed by the cassette deck B. Soon the buttons turned too stubborn to obey my orders, but me being the humble self I am, was happy and content with one last fully operational cassette deck. I started taking extra care of the ageing beauty, cleaning the head regularly, replacing over-used tapes, and finally putting special attachments of the otherwise useless vacuum cleaner to good use.

Hence, my romance continued in my own company with my parents often walking into my dark room to find me screaming along Simply Red ballads. Also it was time for me to get over the Aerosmiths and the Stings. There finally comes a point in life when you realise that Axl Rose has no hidden depths and Bob Dylan was the original curator of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door while Everly Brothers proved to be bigger liars than Bush and Blair.

With the complete discovery of Floyd, Zeppelin, Hendrix and Morrison accompanied by Clapton, Springsteen, Cobain, Steve Vai, I entered the twisted world of permanent discontent, emotional avalanches and melodies dipped in poetry. By now, I had retreated into the confused and angst-ridden teenage hell, where Lennon was a pretentious hippie who pretended to change the world and the world itself had let Dylan down.

To add to my miseries, the surviving deck A also decided to enter comatose. I remember that evening clearly, the speakers were blasting away Still Loving You while I was wondering if this song ever made it to the classics list. And then it happened - the tape got stuck, the screen displayed “SEE YOU LATER”, all the lights started blinking, which I later realised was an SOS signal, and I switched off the power. The Deck never played another song and left me with a void the size of erstwhile Soviet Union. I refused to pack it up; hoping that it will return after a brief sabbatical but destiny had different plans for its resurrection.

After my failed attempts of tracing the abandoned Sony Walkman and making sense of new technology namely, Computers, I was still craving to go back to the era of cassette tapes. Besides, in the absence of broadband internet, mp3s were considered to be as elusive as experiencing zero gravity and I was not a resourceful teenager like my brother to find cheaper alternatives. Also, gravitational, rotational, electro-magnetic and all other forms of forces in Pradeep’s Physics book were giving me sleepless nights; hence new technology had to wait further exploration.

Soon, I found a temporary escape, in the form of my dad’s car and the Kenwood car stereo which itself was screaming to be rescued from Ghulam Ali. My friends and I would spend hours sitting there, fantasizing about our approaching College days and driving licences and the only utility a car seemed to offer back then was the dream of driving into oblivion listening to Third Eye Blind with the icy rain freezing us in time. Nevermind, two more years of school was still left and puberty had not yet been replaced by maturity.

The new millennium also introduced me to the concept of Modern Rock and Alternative genres. But no matter how entertaining Nickelback, Sum 41, 3 Doors Down, Staind, Puddle of Mud, John Mayer and Maroon 5 were, they never went beyond that one brilliant song followed by a couple of obscure mediocre tracks which only made me go crawling back to Cobain or Hendrix. The metal phase also arrived and disappeared but not without leaving behind some phenomenally brilliant songs which are still engraved on my playlists along with respect for Iron Maiden, Metallica and Rage who have made a come-back on my lists thanks to my relatively recent discovery of the political agenda behind Morello’s incredible solos.

I found further salvation in the contemporary tunes of Goo Goo Dolls, Oasis, Cranberries, Silverchair and the gorgeous Lenny Kravitz. Sometimes, I wonder how I travelled all through the 90s without stumbling upon this man who I believe is the only true rockstar of my generation. It began with the song Again, the video actually, and soon I was whispering Little Girl’s Eyes to my pillow.

Aha, Channel [V] International deserves a mention too, before it too disappeared from the Cable Operator’s Set-top Box in favour of Lashkara Music and other forms of quality entertainment. It was here that I witnessed the advent of hip-hop as it graduated from a weekly niche show called “The Juice” to a mainstream phenomenon within a year’s time and soon the niche shows were called “The Rock Show”.

Ofcourse I understand this joke that music programmers decided to play on me, after all nursery-rhyme styled rap about brothers transforming into dawgs and shawty’s pussy getting wet deserves not only Grammies but standing ovation by the… what the fuck … not you Sir Jagger. But who am I to complain, Bob sang about our changing times and sold his soul to Starbucks the very next day, Timberlake decided he was black without getting tanned on Spanish beaches and Gwen Stefani finally got a Grammy for her one-line contribution to lil’ Kim’s so-called song while Britney committed another faux pas by announcing her to allegiance to rock ‘n roll at precisely this rather inopportune time in the history of mankind.

But wait, [V] Int’s replacement had arrived in the form of unlimited access to high-speed internet and …umm…p2p software. The age-old collection of music was redeemed in the form of illegal mp3s, hundreds and thousands of them and the supposedly dead Deck returned to the services of a girl who was dying to say goodbye to her teenage years. Yup, the speakers were still in perfect condition and the amplifiers were working so the wires disappeared somewhere behind the motherboard, and I created Music. Life was bearable once again, crossfade and Winamp was discovered and Planet M was no longer a priority, nor was Television or Jay-Z.

By the way, something called a “nightlife” had also entered this new dimension and if one decides to judge Delhi by the Paralympics’ yardstick, it apparently has a decent nightlife. But alas, good times don’t last long, as it was soon discovered that beyond the college rock shows in North Campus during winters which were bad excuses for boys wearing Linkin Park T-shirts to smoke-up and wannabe girls with equally wannabe tattoos to headbang while some band named skulls-on-fire played Creed and swore undying love for Pearl Jam with a Dholak, the picture looked rather ugly. So, I restricted myself to one Parikrama show every winter till I got bored of the GnR memorial service they dished out each time. The trips to TC’s or to an occasional gig by some decent and not-so-decent bands could not survive the onslaught of hip-hop and mob mentality.

When clubbin’ offered a choice between smoky pubs filled with pony-tailed and beer-bellied forty year olds or Bhangra DJs all the way from Birmingham, I sought solace in alcohol and Lenny’s Rock n Roll is Dead. To be fair to my graduation years and the designer dancing shoes of my friends, I found myself surrendering helplessly to the whims and fancies of Usher, J-kwon, Ne-yo and the psychedelic-trance-house-weird-as-hell noise masquerading as music. The mindless partying threw up amusing scenes of fair, pink-lipped, bling laden Punjabi boys trying hard to fit in while another lost rocker soul ended up head banging instead of grinding with his pretty but embarrassed girlfriend. I stopped cribbing as I had given up on my generation’s non-existent IQ, and decided that an alcohol induced stupor is a lot more fun as are the 5 am trips to comesum, bund-omelette, parantha guys and other forms of eateries including the abandoned graveyard… to eat the dead ofcourse.

While Delhi’s nightlife left me more disillusioned than the paper on International Relations did, U2 decided to shed their talent for UN-sponsored grammy winning singles and Greenday became as popular as Jessica Simpson, which obviously resulted in them being labelled as sell-outs by their loyal fan base. Now the Linkin Park loving guys were strolling along their boulevard of broken dreams while I held Basketcase close to my bleeding heart. Ironically, as I am typing this out, Armstrong and Bono are singing a duet called The Saints are Coming while the Marines and Iraqi civilians are competing in a death-toll championship. It’s a pity the world of music ignored the Iraq debacle for the fear of being ignored by the fans of Dixie Chicks and whoever told me that Vietnam owes its communist existence to Woodstock, can wait for another September to end.

All the negativity aside, my last five years belong to the continuing brilliance of Floyd, Zeppelin, Morisson, Hendrix and Company, combined with the tunes of RHCP, Soundgarden, Bush, Cold, Matchbox 20, Deftones, The Calling, The Killers, My Chemical Romance, The Verve, Live, Lifehouse, Vertical Horizon, The Cure, Switchfoot and even Coldplay. Some wonderful new creatures also arose from the leftover talents of the 90s namely Audioslave and Foo Fighters; the former being a historical merger and once again Chris Cornell’s haunting voice plunged my Sunday afternoons into wonderfully melodious dreams weaved together by a tamer Morello’s guitar.

The other incredible invention apart from Pakistani underground Rock was the iPod. More than a decade had passed since the Deck’s purchase, and eversince I had seen an iPod in some techno-gadget supplement, I dreamt of escaping the restrictions of a 20GB hard-drive and Winamp. So when my dad offered to gift me an “i-Pot”, I did not refuse… c’mon this girl deserves a little self-indulgence for being defeated by viruses and Trojans on several occasions. But, technology has never been too kind to the blissfully ignorant and so I failed to grasp the intricacies of operating iTunes. Damn, needed my brother again, who arrived and dumped my selected 347 songs in it and left. It took me less than a week to get bored of this playlist and so, when I connected the white angel to my PC, the angel’s hard-drive got wiped out. Once again,I was left waiting for my brother but this time the wait was too long, hence, I googled “iPod for dummies” and managed to dump every single music file in the damn thing. Next, I electrocuted this brand new piece of Apple’s shit.

Yes it died. A death worse than that suffered by three-fourths’ of the Deck.

It almost came down to me selling the right kidney before parents found out, but the Apple guys took the guarantee papers seriously and replaced it with a brand new iPod in two days. After this I refused to touch this piece of rocket-science for several months and decided to give it to my deserving brother. But being the Samaritan, he is, I received advanced lessons on conquering iTunes and befriending one’s iPod. Today, I am happy to announce that my new best friend is the iPod classic with playlists I can die for and the legendary affair continues uninterrupted.

Its time to end this decade long tale about the deck and it’s musical journey, and so its time to mention Anathema and Radiohead, perhaps two opposite ends of the musical spectrum but their talent and music overwhelms my senses and surpasses any words of appreciation I can offer. There exists a world beyond Creep and Fake Plastic Tress, where Karma Police, Lucky, Angelica and Are you there, have played tricks on my mind and continues to fill my silly little heart with solitude, affection, reproach and unknown emotions. Radiohead has already spawned a musical revolution and Anathema, which has been left struggling in the world of independent production, is definitely the stuff that legends are made of.

Well, when I am old and possibly crying over a dying iPod with the Deck still serving my battered soul, I will read this post and laugh uncontrollably.