Saturday, August 18, 2012

Music for Manic Monday Mornings

In the blogging world, Monday mornings are manic for most. If your post isn’t shipshape, you are probably racing against the clock to be able to hit publish by the time people log in to work, by the time the homemaker settles down at his computer after packing the kids and the working woman off. And then there is the mad social network hopping to get the word out. I am no different. But I am lazy. And wicked. And a hedonist.

So over the long weekend, I came up with something that this Monday morning is just right for. Music. Not a post about music but a post of music. Yes, a playlist it is. A devilish Peter Pan sort of a playlist. A journey back in time to the music I grew up with, starting from what I heard before I could decide what I would listen to, on to the music that I couldn’t avoid once I was old enough to make a choice.

Like parents, one often does not get to choose the music that shapes one’s life. It is a combination of the culture of the times, your milieu, and what resonated within you for reasons that will forever remain unclear. Enough of introduction. Lets get to the music.

1. As The Beatles were making history, another British band, The Dave Clark Five was giving them a run for their money, be it chasing the No. 1 spot on the UK and US charts , appearances on US TV shows, or being the clean and lovable ambassadors of British invasion. This song is precisely as old as me. It was one of the songs that my parents rocked to, so it was hard for me not start my list with it.

Dave Clark Five – Catch Us If You Can

2. This was another song that my parents rocked to (it is very difficult to visualize my parents rocking, but they gave birth to me and my brother, so nothing is impossible). I found the Mid-Eastern rhythm and the strangeness of the lyrics mesmerizing as a child, and later, hilariously geopolitical. The multi-language lyrics translate to “My Cherie, I love you, Cherie, I adore you, like tomato sauce.” If you are wondering where you might have heard the tune before, think Sanjay Dutt starrer Aatish or the Led Zep Remaster track called White Summer/Black Mountainside.

Bob Azzam - Ya Moustapha

3. The sheer simplicity and universality of this next song will keep it alive as long as people are going to be in love. I first heard The Beatles at home, but it only after I started meeting friends who were really into music that I realized what the music of The Beatles really meant. This song is older than me, but to date it is as magically new as the love that reinvents a person each moment of one’s lifetime.

The Beatles – Love Me Do

4. My uncle, Gerard, introduced me to the Merseyside meets Classical world of Moody Blues. I loved the rich texture and instrumentation that reminded me of the orchestral music that resounded in our home, while the lyrics and the ideas filled me with a restlessness to give in to the winds of change that were blowing all around me. I had a tough time choosing between this song and Forever Afternoon, but since this is the first time I am putting a playlist out, I chose to stay as close to the middle of the road as one can when listening to Moody Blues.

Moody Blues – Nights in White Satin

5. Despite the advances in recording technology and synthesizers that were de rigueur by the time The Who released Who’s Next, it was the raw energy of the songs and the lyrical drama that made this album so special. This version of Behind Blue Eyes is from the concert at The Summit, Houston, TX, which is available in its entirety on Youtube.

The Who – Behind Blue Eyes

6. Halfway through the list I realized that British Rock really is what I grew up on. But I was also listening to popular music of a more global nature, like Nina and Frederick, the yellow-haired high-cheek-boned white duo from Denmark who shot to fame with their calypso and Jamaican hits like Sinner Man and Counting Colors in the Rainbow. Here they are from the BBC Top of the Pops doing an all time classic.

Nina and Frederick - Baby its Cold Outside

7. How does one place a Stones or a Tull track next to the previous one? Along with mainstream rock, our times saw the emergence of Disco, Afro Pop and Reggae. One of the bands that India was crazy about during those days was the West African band, Osibisa. I had almost all their vinyl releases. Every party you went to had their big hits playing – Woyaya, Sunshine Day, Dance the Body Music, and of course, their take on Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram from their India concert tour. Here is one of their more lyrical tracks.

Osibisa – Welcome Home

8. The world’s perception of the power of music had been changed forever with Woodstock. Musicians were able to transcend boundaries that governments and religions could not. Reggae in Britain and Latin music in the US were redefining genres and creative traditions. On one hand you had the Beatles exploring Indian classical instruments, and on the other you had Cream and The Yardbirds tracing the roots of the Blues. Santana was another major influence on my musical sensibilities.

Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton – Jingo 

9. Even before I stepped into my teens, there was a band called Moheener Ghoraguli which was creating a fusion of Baul, Bengali traditional music, Rock, Folk and Jazz. They did concerts and released three seminal albums that to date remains the bedrock on which Bangla rock and perhaps all of Indian fusion music stands. The sociopolitical consciousness that their lyrics and arrangements carried cannot be compared to anything in the Indian contemporary music scene. The significance of this band can be gauged by the fact that along with the classic reunion and tribute video below, I am also sharing a version of one of their classic songs, Adho Alo Adhare, covered by Nogor Philomel.

Mohiner Ghoraguli – Bhalobashi 

10. Boney M, Abba, and Brotherhood of Man were constant companions in my preteen years, but it was jazz that made me see beyond the predigested pap that commercial music would often be, and it was love at first listen. Of course, I fell for Take Five and Greensleeves, but it was the man who introduced me to Joe Pass, Barney Kessel and Ray Brown, that was my first love – Oscar Peterson. 
 Yes, I went on to fall in love with playing the guitar later on in life.

Oscar Peterson Trio – You Look Good To Me

I must confess, writing this post has been a most enjoyable experience. To think that I started it out as a easier softer way to get a post out on Monday!! And I have barely scratched the surface. Next time I feel this inspired, I will touch on the music of my teenage years, a melange of amazing pop Divas, Zappa-esque tomfoolery, prog rock, and of course, Jazz.

Hope you had fun, and have you looked at the time lately?


  1. Good one. Loved the Moody Blues and Oscar Peterson. Love me do has a great but simple beat to it. My dad has a couple of cassettes of Osibisa in his collection, he stopped listening to it when A.R. Rahman came into the scene in the early 90s. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad you liked it, Sandeep. I had so much fun doing this. I think you will find music more to your liking in future posts in this series.

  2. I have had a strange weekend, but this is uplifting....Behind blue eyes and Nights in white satin are special for me. But, i heard some new music too...thanks for sharing

    1. CFM, if there is one thing that I know, it is that all things are instructional and contribute to your human revolution. I am so glad that this made you feel uplifted. Most of the childhood music that I shared is definitely obscure in today's world. I hope to share more of these playlists in future, partly to document what I like, and partly to share my joy of listening. Take care, stay protected, and know that your universe is but a reflection of your self.

  3. Nice to see this Subho. I have very specific taste in music, however, Beatles was one of my favourites. I used to listen to John Denver as well, especially the song "Country roads take me home...." while driving my SUV to jungles.....


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