Thursday, November 12, 2009

Musings on Music

Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live

Love those lyrics! For the past 15 years, I have been a fan of rock music, but its been predominantly classic rock. Then as I grew up, I added some of the legendary alt rock acts of our times like Blur, Oasis, REM, RHCP. But once Linkin Park took over the bandstand, I just decided to stick with what I love already! The rock-rap fusion was not really my thing, and I just switched off. Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" was always a much more mind-blowing
experience for me.

But recently, over the last couple of months I decided to sample a little bit of the newer rock bands. Well, new for a wizened classic rock fan like me anyway. And I sampled some stuff from Velvet Revolver, Rage against the Machine, Audioslave and Foo Fighters. Also, Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, and Marilyn Manson.

To be honest, I have heard a little bit of Manson before, and I like it! Its shock rock at perhaps its finest. Some of Manson's compositions are just downright brilliant. My favourite Manson song (from a very limited sampling though), is "Lunchbox". I know its almost incendiary in that it sounds like its promoting violence in schools! But honestly, its not like Manson looks like someone you would take advice from, right? Anyway, the song is about a kid in school who gets back at the bullies.

I wanna grow up
I wanna be a big rock and roll star
I wanna grow up I wanna be
So no one fucks with me

Interesting! And what makes it even better is the great guitar riff when he says "rock and rollllll starrrrr"! Another song that has a brilliant composition is "Astonishing Panorama of the End Times", along with a brilliant title! God is in your TV, indeed!

Out of all the other groups I sampled, Audioslave and Foo Fighters definitely made the most impact. I had really liked Soundgarden's Superunknown album. And Chris Cornell is a brilliant vocalist. I hadnt really heard much about Tom Morello, the ex-RATM guitarist, who is also part of Audioslave, but I have grown to love their self-titled album. The lyrics at the top of this post is from the song "Show me how to live", and its definitely one of the best songs in this album. There are a bunch of other great songs in there too, including "Cochise", "Shadow on the sun" and "Like a Stone". Not always the best of lyrics though, but excellent music along with brilliant vocals.

And Foo Fighters was probably a foregone conclusion, with ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl at the front. The album I sampled was "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace", beautifully titled, amazingly well composed, with lovely lyrics. These guys are brilliant at the slow buildup leading to an explosive climax! And songs which make the hairs on your arms and neck stand on end sometimes! "Let it Die", "Come Alive" and "Stranger things have happened before" are absolute stand-outs along with "The Pretender". "Stranger..." is one of the finest examples of a softened down, almost unplugged, rock song in a long time. I am a fan of Dave now, and looking forward to more of his music.

With RATM, the issue again was with the rap-rock fusion. But their music is something else, full of angst and delivered almost staccato at times. These guys were good, and there is a power in songs like "People of the Sun" and "Bulls on Parade" which completely mesmerizes.

So although I will never, ever, let go of those LedZep, Deep Purple, Rolling Stones etc songs, these "new" bands are definitely making an impact. I still havent figured out why Coldplay is the biggest band in the world. Maybe someday I will.

As the days get shorter, and it gets tougher to get out of bed in the cold winter mornings, nostalgia seems to be the order of the day.

Winter has always been associated in the colder countries as an end to the beautiful season of summer. The cold winds drive away the warmth of the summer.

In India, predominantly tropical, winter has always been a solace from the heat of summer, the dampness of the monsoon. But this winter somehow finds me in a much more nostalgic mood than usual. I have always loved winter. Mumbai kids usually do. In Mumbai, winter brings with it a refreshing change from the year-round humidity. For about a month or month-and-a-half stretching across December and January, you enjoy the coolness of the breeze, and the very slight chill of the late nights. In Bangalore, of course, winters are a bit more severe and the weather all round the year can get a bit chilly everytime it rains.

Last weekend I went down to the supermarket with my son, my little helper :), to pick up the groceries from a list already provided. When buying soap, I looked down the aisle and picked up one of the soaps which used to be a symbol of the winters of my childhood! Pears transparent soaps ! Living in Mumbai, you tend to perhaps not use any of the moisturizing kind of soaps, unless its winter! And Pears used to really come into my house only in the winters. In the early 80's, I dont think there were that many options anyway, and perhaps Pears was the only available "moisturizing" soap of the time. Wikipedia tells me that Pears soaps have been in production since 1789! Thats one amazing business model!

So anyway, I picked it up again this time. And I realized again after using it, what a gorgeous fragrance this soap has! I mean, I never imagined I will ever wax eloquent about soap, but it really is worth mentioning! And everytime that fragrance hits me, it just seems to remind me of home, of those carefree days as a child. When everything was worked out by someone else, everything was made available without having to struggle for it. When life was simpler, perhaps.

Whenever I am reminded of my own childhood, I also wish that I had been a much better kid than I was, especially in the teens! I also hope fervently that my son takes more on his mom than me in that department! Parents truly are marvellous creations!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I have been reading a lot lately. Well, a 'lot' is probably over-playing it a bit. Probably, giving it a little more time than I could earlier.

The experience of a long commute to work wasnt very helpful. A lot of time was taken away by the travel, and now that I dont have to do that anymore, I am enjoying the little things in life a lot more. One of those is reading. But the biggest positive is of course, that I can spend more time at home, with my son.

Its amazing how fast kids grow up. He's already taller than my waist now, and it seems just a few months ago that he was about knee-high! But now he's a big boy, as he himself would put it!

I am reading a Dennis Lehane novel currently, a dark, troubling mystery/thriller as he usually writes. There was a passage in it, where Pat Kenzie (of the Kenzie & Gennaro investigative duo), is watching his girlfriend's little daughter play. The author describes how every time the child stumbles, takes a bigger jump than you would expect her to, does the little things that kids do, Pat feels a sense of parental anxiety that makes him worry that she would get hurt. This struck so true with me. There are so many occasions when I tell my wife to not be so over-protective towards our son, but then there are also so many times when I too find my heart in my mouth! Just this morning, he took a too-big bite off the cookie he was eating as we waited for his school bus and just then his bus comes along. I made him spit the cookie out, and he went on and got into the bus, leaving me worrying about whether I should go after him to check if he is definitely ok! Little things, sounds even littler when I put it down here, but.. I couldnt help worrying! Didnt stop thinking about it till I went and checked on him at lunch time!

So I started off thinking I will write about the books I read, but I guess I am well off track by now. Anyway, this blog is reader-free enough that I can go ahead and indulge in whatever I want to! So, book reviews will just have to wait!

Sometimes, you cant help but wonder. Why are the good things in life, generally bad for you? And why are those very things that are bad for you, so tempting?

What really happened on that mountain? Was there really a burning tree? Or was Moses the first of the moral police? Did he make those rules up, and whats with people? Just a flock of sheep, I guess.

So, here I go. Just another in the flock, following the leader. There are some things which you just cant go against, I guess.