My memories goes back to my school days when I had my first brush with rock music. Started with rather classic stuff like Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and The Beatles. Those were the days when you could play a safe song by one of these folks which even your parents would hum with you. My father’s particular favourite was Elvis Presley. While my mother dotted more on the disco types like Abba and Boney M. Me and my brother grew up listening to the usual hindi ones like Kishore, Rafi and also ghazals most which were dominated by Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali. But when it comes to rock n roll, I remember it was probably in around 14, when my friend suggested me to listen to the Scorpions. I was a safe start, I believe. Soft rock was particularly soothing and I didn’t have to try too hard to understand the lyrics. I particularly remember humming to ‘Wind of Change’ and ‘White Doves’ which was perhaps the first time I remembered the entire lyrics of any English song. Classic rock n roll was just a timepass sort of music for me which I listened to impress upon the other western listening crowd of my school.
My first real serious experience with rock n roll happened one day when I chanced to see a documentary on TV about The Doors. There was this guy who was simply high on dope and the crowd was simply swinging with him totally mesmerized! The next day immediately bought a cassette of The Doors and instantly I fell in love with the haunting vocals of Doors frontman Jim Morrison. For the first time I thought rock n roll had a deeper meaning than I ever imagined. By that time I was reaching 18 and was taking my keyboard lessons. Listening to Ray Manzarek’s awesome keyboard parts in the songs was enough for me to take the keyboard seriously. I began to live The Doors day in and day out. For the first time my parents were baffled to hear me listen to a kind of music they were not familiar with. Morrison’s lyrics totally freaked out my psyche. For the first time I began to look at the things around me in a different way and went through the ‘confusion’ phase that most teens go through. Love, life, violence, sex. I felt I could understand these things in a clearer way than ever before. Songs like ‘Riders in The Storm’, ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Roadhouse Blues’ and ‘The End’ have become anthems with scores of people. But for me, one underrated song that particularly stands among these gems is ‘People are Strange.’ It connected with me especially in the period when I came to Delhi for the first time and felt like a complete stranger in the place. The Doors never failed to give me solace in my hours of depression and I almost worshipped Jim Morrison.
I began to venture to other rock n roll bands too. There were Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Kiss, The Rolling Stones and the like. They made great stuff to listen. And I felt good because I was increasing my rock range. But then one day, my friend gave me a cassette called ‘The Dark Side of The Moon.’ It was by a band called Pink Floyd. Suddenly, I felt that I had reached a very extreme point of psychedelia! Rock, for me, was never the same again! It totally blew my mind. And I realized I had finally found the medium to vent out my frustrations. Pink Floyd’s songs helped me delve into the darker realms of the mind. I still get hysterical when I listen to their ‘Coming Back to Life.’ This song has become an anthem with me now. And for me, nothing can match the dark soothing beauty of this song. There is an ultimate rush of ecstasy and sadness in this song. All at the same time. Another song I fondly recall leaving a huge impression on me was ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Anybody would fell in love with this song recalling their first love. Pink Floyd’s effect started from the point where The Doors faded off. And not to forget their ever popular ‘Education’ song.
Now I sometimes wonder what is it that endears rock n roll so much to the youth? Maybe it is some sort of a medium to vent out their hidden frustrations. Or maybe it is something with which the teenager’s often troubled mind can identify with. I think more than the music it is the lyrics which form the real core of rock music. If you go through lyrics like “Remember when you were young, You shone like the sun,” you will realize that it connects more with the youth than anybody else. Though it’s timeless quality can appeal to any age group, it will be more appealing to the troubled teenaged mind as it will take back to the magical innocence of childhood. Or take this one for example. “I wish I die before I grow old.” Now how would a young mind react to it? Or even the ones who are in the prime of their youth? Really psychedelic!
Maybe I’m just goofing around trying to define what rock n roll is all about like most idiots before me have done. But here like most, I myself have felt its impact on my brains. But again, I really can’t do justice to it by trying to make an explanation out of it. A friend of mine, who unfortunately died of a drug overdose, summed up rock n roll in the best way possible. “You have to feel it to understand it.” I think I’m no authority to better that!