Last Tuesday my cellphone rang late at night. My nephew had just exited the concert by Bryan Adams in Bangalore and wanted to tell me all about it.As I listened to him I was transported back to the Bruce Springsteen concert in Delhi in 1988. My friend, his little brother and I had gone to the JLN stadium in New Delhi for that concert. His father had driven us in his old car that we had parked in a side lane some way from the stadium. There were many performers. Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Bruce Springsteen at the end.
My friend had fallen asleep by the time Bruce Springsteen came on stage. I had to wake him up. We stood up, sang out loud and clapped to the rhythm along with all the songs.
23 years later my nephew went hoarse singing along with Bryan Adams. He stood only 30 feet from the singer. On his way back he picked up a souvenir for me. A guitar pick that the lead guitarist Keith Scott had dropped after the concert.
Here is a pic of that pick. Looking at it I can hear the music flow out merging songs by Bryan Adams and the Beatles.
Everything I do, I do it for you (while my guitar gently weeps)
I wish there were some way I could easily digitise my cassettes. There is none. It will require playing each cassette and recording it on a computer. Time consuming. I have an ace up my sleeve. An old Walkman. No not a Walkman, it is a Sanyo portable stereo that plays audio cassettes. Quite nice with auto reverse, radio AM/FM and recording facility with a built-in microphone. It lacks a belt-clip and is bulky in the jacket pocket but is sturdy.
In the years gone by people who’d walk with headphones clamped on their heads were oddities. They attracted stares. Joggers with headphones were still accepted. Maybe the bystanders thought the joggers’ hardwork justified some entertainment in the form of music.
The hands-free kits of cellphones have changed this. Car drivers, bus drivers, auto drivers, rickshaw pullers, bike/scooter drivers, the elephant’s mahout, the horse rider, the bullock cart-walla, the crowd in the metro, the young and the old, the vegetable vendor, the kabadiwalla, the painter perched on the ladder while painting the roof, the plumber fixing the drain under the sink, the electrician repairing the door bell, who doesn’t have earphones plugged in the ears?
I think I’d heard Elvis even before I’d heard the Beatles. I think it was Teddy Bear and Wooden Heart that I’d heard on the radio. Then one summer day I made a trip to Palika Bazaar after school and bought a cassette of Elvis. I used to listen to the cassette over and over again. The Beach Boys came in much later. The first song I remember by the Beach Boys is And then I Kissed Her. Another that keeps playing in my mind now and then is Barbara Ann. I got my hands on a cassette by the Beach boys too but not until much later. Classical music was yet to venture in through my ear drums and create space in my mind. I treasured my collection of 17 cassettes and these were arranged in some order, I’ve long forgotten which. I do remember I’d always place the cassette I’d heard back in its proper place.
Now all the cassettes, many more than 17 in number lie in dusty rows in a couple of cardboard cartons on the floor with a few CDs scattered on the top.
The CD arrived many years ago and still lingers. MP3 and other file formats rule. Just like the digital camera. Film still lingers, the amateur or the old timer still use it. Digital reigns.
I remember it was my sister who’d told me the Beatles’ accent was easier to understand compared to the other Western music groups. One day I chanced upon a Beatles’ cassette in my cousin’s home and played it in his tape player. Some kind of noise came out of the speakers. I stopped it. A few years later I would sit glued to my radio with a blank cassette ready to record each song that played in the programmes ‘The Sunday Request’ and ‘In the Mood’ on Yuv Vani on All India Radio.I’d record each song but would rewind and record the next song over it if I didn’t like it. This way I had my own ‘collection’ of music. I also discovered that the songs I liked a lot were mostly by the Beatles. This led me to buy a cassette of the Beatles. I had gone with my father to Karol Bagh and we stopped at a shop that sold English music cassettes. I would play both sides of that cassette over and aver again day after day. Time passed and I bought a songbook. I had gone alone to Connaught Place and had visited all the book shops. Most of the songs it had were by the Beatles and had the lyrics and the chords. The only think left to do now was to learn to play the chords. Years later I’m still learning. While my guitar gently weeps.