Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Smorgasbord", "Bed", "Music"

From the Smorgasbord of prompts from the past two years of Sunday Scribblings, I chose “Bed” and “Music” to write about this week.

Apart from the mandatory, minimum 10-minute read in bed before doing anything else, including falling asleep – no matter HOW tired I am – one other thing to which I’ve become used is listening to music.

Pete is the maestro here, choosing music that he loves and which he thinks I should know about. I’m pretty much a philistine when it comes to western music in general, with the sort of taste in songs that probably sets his teeth on edge – music that he terms as “too commercial”, by which he means it’s too easy to like and just as easy to forget. I, on the other hand, accuse him of being a musical snob… although once in a while I agree with him on certain songs… eventually. (Things like “Asereje” or “The Cheeky song”, etc).

In the last 7-1/2 years that I’ve known him, my familiarity with various bands, individual singers and their albums has increased dramatically. The music he has loved and listened to for years isnt always to my taste, but I’ve given it a fair chance before deciding that yeah, on the whole I’m not crazy about Elton John (early years and later whining), Bill Nelson (in Be Bop Deluxe and as a solo artist), Kate Bush (who’s as annoying and high-pitched as a mosquito in her debut album and what LANGUAGE does she sing in for god’s sake and what on earth was that video about where she looks and dances like a demented ghost?), David Bowie (don’t get him and don’t like his tombstone teeth) – and so on. Those are the ones that come to mind immediately, but there are definitely more bands/artistes I dont care for overmuch.

On the other hand, I've fallen in love with Pink Floyd - and even more so with David Gilmore and his smoky, ever-so-slightly-raspy MAN'S voice. Listen to him, and you'd never confuse him with anyone else... there's no mistaking that voice, unlike all the boy band and girl band singers who pretty much all look and sound alike if you're not actually watching them. Seal, with his equally gorgeous voice, is balm for the soul... which leads me to wonder, how on earth does he put up with Heidi Klum and her ANNOYING voice - how could he have married her?

But I'm getting sidetracked. Genesis is another group I've come to like very much. Alhough I was familiar with Phil Collins as a solo singer from when I was younger, I've fallen for Peter Gabriel with a vengeance. I love the music that he brings out under his record label too. That man has good taste.

Groups like Afro-Celt Sound System and the Guarneri Underground are very close to my heart - and soul. The former mix African and Irish music by way of some Indian as well, and the lead singer of the latter, Beth Quist, has a voice that is liquid silver - its purity has to be heard to be believed, and she can hold high notes effortlessly for what seems like entire minutes. She's just amazing!

Enya is another singer that I adore... most of the time I've no idea what she is murmuring about, as the lyrics are more often than not in Gaelic - but her English lyrics bypass my comprehension too. It doesnt matter, though, because the melody of her songs and her gentle, soothing, sweet voice are what appeal to me. Her music makes me think of green grass and open meadows and murmuring brooks and everything that is lovely in Nature - it's wonderful and so relaxing to fall asleep to that beautiful music.

I havent touched on a tenth of the music I've discovered over the last few hundred nights... and to tell the truth, I dont know the difference between the various kinds of pop and rock anyway. Hell, I cant even tell the difference between pop and rock! So music labels such as rave, glam rock, metal, hard rock, alternative pop, alternative rock, motown, retro, hiphop, psychedelic, grunge, punk rock, grindcore, house, merseyhouse, speed metal, thrash metal, doom metal, death metal (WTF??) - PHEW! - and so on, hold no meaning for me.

Music to me is divided into two types - music I like and music I dont like. If it's something I like, I can listen to it at any time. So sometimes there's a slight difference of opinion at night when I want to listen to stuff from Pete's DJ compilations. "But it's dance music", he says, a little baffled. "It's the stuff I play at weddings and discos." Yeah I know, and that's where I heard them first and got to know and love them. Songs like "Rockin' all over the world", "Mickey", "The Rowboat Song", "I'm a believer", and so on, are as much bedtime listening as Enigma or Jakatta or any of the "trance" genre of music. To me, that is.

But to Pete, who is infinitely more knowledgeable about western music, the way I put together CDs of my favourite songs is in equal parts amusing and incomprehensible - you could find "Que sera sera", "Yesterday", "Leningrad", "Belfast Child", "Macarena", "Shine" and "Ray of Light" all in one CD, and in no particular order. Mixing up genres, decades and song-styles is something I do naturally, because all I know is that they're songs I like.

I guess it's a bit like Pete wanting to listen to M S Subbulakshmi's "Suprabatham" at night - being ignorant about South Indian devotional music, all it is to him is a melody in a language he cant begin to understand. But because I've grown up with it being played every morning, listening to it at night doesnt seem right. For all I know, there are arcane reasons why playing the suprabatham at night is bad for you, the way certain combinations of musical notes are reputed to create a dissonance within you, and others soothe or calm you. It's more than possible - but it's another matter entirely whether I believe all that.

Anyway, to get back on track and finish off, let me just say that there's a veritable smorgasbord of music which I get to listen to in bed pretty much every night. The Sandman must like that too, because he arrives earlier and earlier.... zzzzz.

15 comments:

Teesu said...

Sometimes, especially where music is concerned, I feel like I am caught up in a time warp. Beatles, Carpenters, Wham and MJ can actually get me thrilled all over again each time, while that silly ketchup song has definitely become bo-horing. Music should be highly personal and mood based. And, the different 'labels' sound like some alien language to me -- not even merely foreign! Doom and death metal, etc. is 'Chumma', some crap people have made up so they can call the trash they compose by some name. Wow, don't I sound crabby!;)

Leonard Blumfeld said...

I used to listen to M. S. Subbulakshmi quite a lot (much to the displeasure of my Bengali wife) and would love to get my hands on the old movies she starred in.

Perhaps you should try to get Pete to listen to her, starting with small doses perhaps :)

Thinking aloud said...

that is pretty much a varied smorgasbord of music indeed...i love to listen but sadly, after the kids were born...i've just gone with the flow...i wonder why i let myself do that...

and do excuse any spelling errors...after your rant down..i'm quite nervous...:)

DJPare said...

Nice! Sounds like you have a great little arrangement. Oh, I believe that word may have a double meaning here...

The Alchemist said...

Oh my God Be Bop Deluxe, I thought I was the only one that ever heard of this band. someone gave me an all white vynal album of theirs 40 years ago.. I listened to it once and put it away. Anyway your observations crack me up. I can't for the life of me SEE what seal SEES in Heidi Klum. Good post enjoyed it much.

AUGUSTBORN said...

nice post sis...enjoyed it too

Anonymous said...

Teesu: I know what you mean :) I'm good at being crabby too! I also think that the 80s was the best decade for great music...

Leonard Blumfeld: He likes fusion music... but the trick is to get him to understand why some music is meant for specific occasions! :)

Thinking aloud: Just ignore my rants! :) And thanks for leaving a comment despite your terror of me :D

DJPare: We DO have a nice arrangement :D

The Alchemist: Would you believe I went to Nelsonica 2005 with my husband? Bill Nelson has got to be the most boring man in real life. He has his moments of good (instrumental) music but on the whole it soulds like muzak to me. And dont get me started on how awful his singing is...! :D

Kumar: thanks!

- Shyam

Heather Kathleen said...

fantastic post. i love that your all over the place with your music...it's the direction that i take too :)

Anonymous said...

Heather kathleen: My goodness, that's the PERFECT description for my taste in music - "All over the place"! Perfect! :) Good to know you're a member of the club!

- Shyam

Kamini said...

Lovely post. Now you've inspired me to try out some new music! Agree with you about Subprabathams at night. But then again, night-time in the UK is early morning in India, right? So maybe Pete is onto something! (I'm behaving like those ridiculous astrologers - all astrologers are ridiculous, but these are exponentially more so - who cast a person's horoscope converting the time of birth into Indian time no matter where the person was born!).
Kamini.

Anonymous said...

Kamini: Thank you! :) I unreservedly recommend Afro-Celt Sound System and The Guarneri Underground - they're absolutely wonderful. As for astrologers - ah, just another way to waste money in trying to figure out a pattern in life where there isnt any. :)

- Shyam

missalister said...

I like the mandatory 10-min read. I used to do that but I’m a big weenie and let myself off the hook of pain citing the old, “Life’s too short” adage, but I’m the one shooting myself in the foot...and I know it. And oh, you and I share the Peter Gabriel fixation. I was hit by the Sledgehammer for sure. And Enya! Oh good heavens yes! She is Creativity itself, I think. How else could hooky melody after hooky melody come to her, BE her??? So then I guess good on your friend Pete for his admirable attempt to broaden your horizons whether you wanted them broadened or not! And yup, it’s two categories, like and don’t like, for me, too. I haven’t time for the sub-gendering and leave the Suprabatham at peace in the mornings, I say! Awesome, comedic journey! Thanks for the ride!

Anonymous said...

Missalister - wow you leave me breathless just reading your comment :) You must live a mile a minute! Thanks for stopping by!

- Shyam

Anonymous said...

Other than Suprabhatam and Western, do you listen to Tamil/Hindi movie songs? Would love to read what you have to say about that. I really enjoy...I should actually say RELISH reading your posts. Loverly really!!! Priya

Shyam said...

Priya: I love old Hindi movie songs - Rafi, Kishore, Mukesh, Manna Dey, odds and ends from other singers. I prefer Asha to Lata, but actually cant listen to either of them for long stretches - too high-pitched for stressfree listening :) I'm not particularly familiar with Tamil songs.