One of the things that i have been wondering about, and I’m a deeply inquisitive sort of a person that way, is pink floyd. you know, the english rock band. specifically, I have been thinking about why the hell they were so loved, some twenty years after they stopped producing good music, by those of us belonging to a certain subculture on engineering campuses back in the homeland. We listened to them all the time, and every doper worth his salt found deep meanings and hidden messages in their music. (I even found colors! Guitar riffs that were streams of blue and taps on the snare that were red splashes. But that was usually on a bad weed trips. I had lots of those. What to do, I was like that only.)
We idolized the bands of the classic and psych rock era – floyd, led zep, deep purple (who i swear no present-day college kid in the western world has heard of ). Drawing a little bit upon other genres, throw in some iron-maiden, a bit of tull and a bit of dire straits, and yeah ‘free bird’ by lynyrd skynyrd, and you get a fairly good idea of what a 90’s indian college geek was listening to as he drew on his spliff.
The poets (and here i use the term to include all non-engineering types), on the other hand, having shared a pitcher of beer bought with pooled cash at the Razzberry Rhinoceros, were shaking their booties to “Backstreet’s back, alright!”
I know, I know. Respectable poets were all about Dylan, Baez, Joni Mitchell, and good ol’ jazz. There might even have been some in that community who obsessed over floyd, although i suspect those were just geeks too afraid to break out of their poetic skins. And I must stress that all such people are friends of mine. (Falstaff, heres your cue to comment). But as a general rule, kids who went to city colleges with a healthy sex ratio (both in terms of gender and number of times gotten laid) were much more into pop-culture than the average geek was.
This divergence between geek and poet preferences is interesting, but it is not a new phenomenon in itself. If i read the situation right, it has been this way since the seventies. During a conversation with someone who went to the same campus i did, only two decades earlier, I realized that he had heard the same music back in the seventies (which was then current) that I did in the late nineties. He was part of a small amateur band, and their repertoire turned out to be rather similar to what the little outfit that I was a drummer for played. It is easy to see how this came about. Druggie music came to india in the late sixties, and engineering campuses, because of their mostly residential nature, were good places for the blooming of a subculture that revolved around psychedelic substances. Once the process started, druggie geeks just remained in their own insulated campuses and played the same things over and over again – each generation passing it on to the next one. Meanwhile, the outside world, which has *always* been about the hip and the showy and the new, moved on. So terry jacks , who was popular in city colleges back in the 70’s was trashed and the boyzones and westlifes of the world took over poet hearts. It was all very disturbing.
Sometimes I have a vision of college-going poets in 70’s india holding hands in a circle and singing ‘we had joy we had fun, we had seasons in the sun’, gushing and sighing and hugging each other. Meanwhile the geeks on their isolated campus in bumblefuck, eastern india, buy cheap g*nja from a thatch-roofed shack and sit by a rarely used railway line to commune with their chill*ms, ‘interstellar overdrive’ playing in their heads, much like their successors two decades later.