Sunday, December 05, 2010

For the love of ROCK music

Rose bowl is a good channel. The programs are neatly presented. And they often play good movies and music. Once they aired a series of movies titled "100 movies to see before you die" and I managed to catch lots of good ones. Movies like 'Saving Private Ryan', 'The Pianist' and 'Schindler's List'. I occasionally find myself tuning-in to listen to music they play. Recently I was listening/watching while i worked on my laptop. I like a little noise in the background as I work alone staying up at night. So under the program titled 'Spanking new', I was catching up on new music. Rihanna, I learnt, still ruled the charts collaborating with few rappers for a new hip hop number. And there were other songs. They were these formula songs featuring beautiful women singers, looking stunning with lilting voices. They played never-out-of-fashion peppy love songs. Beautiful scenes... beautiful beats... Only... every song sounded like the other. And just when I was feeling sick with the mellifluous content, the program changed to 'Overload'. I guess the clock struck 11. And that's when the hard rock and metal fans are catered too. And I heard 'Metallica' sing one of my personal favorites, 'until it sleeps'. I sighed with relief.

Rock music is most misunderstood. In my younger days the peace of the house was often disturbed by my elder brother thrashing rock music on the recorder at high decibels and my parents cursing him, his songs and his generation. "How can you listen to this? Do you call this music?"!!! My now hundred years old grandmother had put a nice name for the genre of headbangers. "Avil iddi." ;) For the non malayalees, it is the process by which rice was beaten in these stone urns using long timber hammers. The name stuck. I inherited my parents tastes of music (classical and old film music) as well as tuned in to my brothers rock numbers. In the beginning though I used to gang up with my parents to snigger at the 'rice beating' music! But eventually I grew to love it. And that's when a whole new world opened. A world with meaningful lyrics and supremely talented performers. I discovered, for instance, 'The doors', whose lead singer Jim Morrisson is revereed as a poet and he who wrote philosophical songs..........
Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one.
Choose the day and choose the sign of your day
The day's divinity
First thing you see.

A vast radiant beach in a cool jeweled moon
Couples naked race down by it's quiet side
And we laugh like soft, mad children
Smug in the woolly cotton brains of infancy
The music and voices are all around us.
Choose they croon the Ancient Ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon
Beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake
Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream
Come with us
Everything is broken up and dances.

‘Metallica’ is my favorite metal band. I love the voice of James Hetfield. Their song called ‘One’ is on landmine victims.
…“now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
that there's not much left of me
nothing is real but pain now “...

Led Zepplin formed by the enormously talented Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, combined the blues with the rock creating their unique style. And then of course the peerless Pink Floyd came along . Their music didn't fit in any genre and were labeled ‘psychedelic rock’. The music they created lead hem to be hailed as the first among hundred things that rocked the world. ‘ Time’ is one of my favorites. (I have posted the song in my blog previously and you can listen to it in my play list.) Numbers like ’another brick in the wall’, Comfortably numb’, Division Bell’, have met with insane success and appreciation among rock lovers. Listen to this.
"Remember when you were young
you shone like the sun.
Now there is a look in your eyes
Like black holes in the sky.."

Pick any of their songs. And the songs and the music will transport you to a different realm.
I am a fan of Alanis Morrisette. Her first album, ‘Jjagged little pill’, is the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest selling debut album worldwide, and she was 19 then. How about this...
‘The moment I let go of it
was the moment when i got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it
Was the moment I touched down.’

Pearl Jam wrote a song called ‘Jeremy’. Its about this little boy facing child abuse from abusive parents who is shy and reclusive at school. Then one day he speaks in class.. with a shot gun...
Queen's Freddie Mercury rocked us with ‘we will rock you’. and what a voice he had! An iconic symbol of our times , rebel to the core, a gay who lived by his rules (‘I want to break free’)... succumbing to Aids but leaving behind memorable songs.
Another favorite band is U2. They are unlike any other band. Their songs are packed with so much energy. Its probably the longest running band other than the Rolling Stones. They have been performing for years now and belting chart toppers.
"I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I am looking for "…

James Brown, Nirvana, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, Dire straits and many many more.
Those who have chosen not to listen to this brand of music are missing something. I personally feel the era of rock music is over. Rock started as this rebellion to the society and its hypocrisies. It was blunt, unpretentious, renegade. A little like the spirit of ‘Che Guevara’ . Those were the days of the hippy culture and LSD. Today what we hear is mostly rehashed numbers. There is seldom anything new and original. The days belong to alternative/soft rock and hip hop. For good rock you have to dig in to past archives. And you stop and start replaying some where in the times of Muddy waters , one of the pioneers of rock music. He took folk songs, rock and roll, jazz and mixed them in to his own style.
I am not a historian. Please don’t read this blog as a reference. I am sure there is ample reliable reference on the net. I just touched on few names that I have enjoyed listening to. I am happy enough to open a door to the exciting world of rock music. I guarantee that it won’t be disappointing. And you will perhaps understand why I felt sick with mellifluousness listening to those pretty women singing cliched love songs.

picture credits:,r:0,s:0&tx=49&ty=58,r:10,s:0&tx=99&ty=55


Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Very nice, Kalpana. I can relate to the post pretty well. ‘Avil Idi’, yes it sounds so in the beginning, and then even before you realize you have developed a liking for them. Though I’m not an aficionado of rock as you’re, I too like my bit of Metallica, Guns n roses, Iron Maiden and the great Pink Floyd. The depth of the lines, the music…isn’t a great feeling to listen to the escalating rhythm of drums all alone at night that accompany ‘enter sandman’ or ponder over ‘flight of Icarus’ or ‘another brick in the wall…’ Personally these songs never bored me where as the syrupy ones by Enrique or even Bryan Adams bore me quite easily.

PS: I’ve read somewhere that introverts like rock/metal genre more. I think it’s true.

kaalpanique said...

ah nice to meet u... metallica fan! thats smthing we can talk about now! its one of those moods.. when u want to listen to rock loud... i once heard metalica unplugged alone in my loud as i can... and i was in a different world... :)

anilkurup said...

Pretty good post
Your fascination for this genre of music reminds me of the days while in college ,and when I was visiting a certain tuition master at his home every day for my 'Cost Accountancy' coaching. He was a ,let me put it a fanatic fan of Rock and heavy. This was in the late seventies. The classes were conducted with the blasting music from his HMV player going about in tye room. The room was literally strewn with cassettes and LPs..High flung posters of men like Jet Throttle,Jimmy Hendrix and the kind was beckoning from the walls. He had the latest of those times , sent to him by his penpal in the US.

Though I prefer the lighter version- pop I do would not mind freaking away once in a while with the heavy ones too. Enjoy the music !

kaalpanique said...

@anil... ya. its nice once in a while... if u get time do check the lyrics. most of them are very meaningful. i poet will appreciate them i guess...

Arjun said...

Avil Iddi! Sounds like a fantastic name for a rock band. If I ever learn to play the guitar and form a band (one can dream surely?) that's what it'll be called - Avil Iddi! lol

kaalpanique said...

@arjun. i would say.. good choice.. achamma would approve! :)