It all started out with a Limp Bizkit tape which I bought for Rs40 in 1999. You know the good old walkman times, when you shut yourself up in your room to get away from your parents and the world and you listened to one tape over and over again, till you learned all the lyrics by heart. These lyrics will end up getting scrawled in specific places, such as on your silver pencil case, on school desks during a stealthy moment in boring 3 period classes when the teacher had her back to the class, maybe on the walls of your private tuition teacher’s garage, which was already scribbled all over with insanities anyway, and maybe during a quiet free period time, with blanco (whitener) on your favourite bench in the school yard. Chocolate Starfish marked the end of the Nick Carter and boys band phase and the beginning of a more “meaningful” kind of music phase. My supposedly rebellious side got a kick out of Parental Advisory Explicit Content types, which, even if I hate to admit it, also included Eminem’s Marshall Mathers album (back when Eminem’s constant laments felt genuine, and he would not even JOKE about ever featuring Rihanna in his songs).
Then, I got introduced to Guns N Roses, Metallica and … Nirvana. I developed a serious case of Kurt Cobainism. I was 15 and I was totally touched by the story of a deranged poet with sexy blond hair and soulful eyes who pioneered grunge music and shot himself in the head in 1994. The mixture of fated death, the beauty of his lyrics and the pain in his voice wooed me over. That was when I grew out of the bad boy phase into the wounded poet phase. Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero, Nirvana Unplugged were albums I listened to over and over again, the songs talked to me and I talked right back to them, there was a real connection. I walked, breathed and wrote about Kurt Cobain. Then there were Guns N Roses, Nirvana’s nemesis at the time, The November Rain trilogy, Sweet Child of Mine, Paradise City… good times with the most amazing guitar riffs. There was no better fantasy than a guy with a guitar… I wanted to learn to play guitar, bass, drums, anything that could make a place for me in that fantastic world of rock music. I settled for scribbling poems / stories instead as I listened to each track. I made up a scenario in my mind and a little story for each song and made up my own lyrics when I could not make out the mumbles.
The music became anthems, and the lyrics my own personal slogans. What could be a better hymn to life than Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters? The opening riffs to that track still gives me shivers, wow. That, and the 3 Unforgivens, classics! We were still during the Walkman and Diskman Era. Tapes and tapes listened to over and over again, going to school, during school, after school, in the bus, hours and hours of bonding with these lyrical masters. And when the batteries of the walkman were threatening to die out, the trick was to roll them in your palms, or even chew on them (I still doubt whether that one really worked) to make them last a few minutes more. When you met new people, the first question and only question you were interested in asking them, would be what kind of music they were into. Do you like alternative? I have their last Live in Seattle concert on CD! Oh you like Manson? Which album? Do you play guitar?
That was during my years as a teenager. Then came cable TV, and with that the likes of MTV and MCM, and along with that the MP3 era. We used to download on Napster, Ares and iMesh. Man, I used to download a whole lot of songs, even videos. The time of tapes and CDs were gone, now you could download singles and specific tracks. That way, you could discover more bands. And with cable TV, American series like Smallville, Roswell, Dawsons Creek, and their respective soundtracks became really popular. A whole lot of good songs came from these sountracks, mainly more or less mainstream American alternative bands. Some bands I came to like were Incubus, Creed, Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Live, 3DoorsDown, Dishwalla… These songs bring back nice bittersweet memories, albeit less deep than the classics, but still, they were good music. Movie and series soundtracks became a great way to discover bands, special thank you goes to One Tree Hill and The OC soundtracks.
During my university years, I had the chance to attend a few concerts. Experiencing a song live with thousands of other people is kind of unique. It’s great when you already know the song, but it’s also quite amazing to discover a new song that way, and realize instantly that you like it! I discovered Imogen Heap and The Parlotones that way. Facebook is a great way to share music and discover new bands, especially when you know that some people share the same (fantastic) taste of music. I also like indulging into Youtube playlists. You wake up one Sunday morning wanting to listen to U2 songs, best way is to load their Youtube Best Of playlist.
Now that I’m an office rat, I kind of stick to what’s in my Ipod, that’s all of the above, including a considerable percentage of very random favourites ranging from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kaya, Manu Chao and much more. I have recently discovered Arctic Monkeys and Foster the People, I have to admit the new kids have talent, it’s a shame that I feel like these belong to another generation. I guess it’s because I am so out of touch with new music now as compared to my adolescent years, the new kids make me feel very un-hip.
My taste in music is definitely eclectic, but I like the depth of rock music. I recently watched Romeo+Juliet (1996) and was struck by how deliciously well Radiohead’s Talk Show Host fitted in the soundtrack. It would be difficult to find a better song to portray emotions ranging from love, anguish, hope to fatality. I feel that artists, the real ones, must have gone through a great deal of soul searching, pain even, to be able to convey so much through a mere combination of words and sound.
Studies say that music, just like food and sex, makes the brain release a chemical called dopamine, which gives pleasure. I think that music brings much more. It can help you make a friend, express your feelings to a loved one, music can help you feel better when you are feeling down. It’s a comforting thought to know that someone somewhere might have gone through the same thing. The thing with a really great song is that all you need to do is find yourself in it, and it becomes yours forever…