Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Geeks, poets and fink ployd

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.

9 comments:

Brown Magic said...

nary a word on druggie poets? bahut nainsaafi hai.

also, on TR's suggestion - how would be feel about sketching your favourite moments from hindi movies of the 70's and the 80's?

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Cut out the assumptions about pop and liberal arts before your engineering degree goes the Cohen way, OK?

Why do you think Brit bands produced the best music to trip to?

Falstaff said...

The real question, of course, is which way the causality runs, at least in the 90's. Did people who ended up on geek campuses end up tripping to rock, or did people who thought Dark Side of the Moon was the source of all wisdom end up becoming geeks? from my own experience, I'd say the rock vs. pop preferences pre-dated the geek vs. poet choice - with considerable noise, you could predict whether someone would end up becoming a geek or a poet by what they were listening to when they were 14.

All of this, of course, comes with the obvious caveat that there were plenty of us poets who were into rock as well - I'm frankly unconvinced that among the male population on poet campuses at least, rock was any less popular. I, of course, did not listen to rock in college. I was off twentieth century music entirely.

Heh Heh said...

bm: that sounds like a very good suggestion. come to think of it, i might actually take you up on that one.

q: tsk tsk.. touchy about pop and liberal arts degrees, aren't we? i'm surprised that you, being the long time reader you are, managed to react to this drivel seriously. the point here is to revel in blatant, pointless and unfounded generalizations. why would you read this blog otherwise?

f: i have a feeling that even when rock was popular amongst males in cities , it usually was 'newer' and more popular stuff - chili peppers, U2, REM and the likes, which still hadnt made its presence felt at bumblefuck.
your point about self-selection is valid, though and certainly needs more investigation.

Tabula Rasa said...

bm: that sounds like a very good suggestion. come to think of it, i might actually take you up on that one.

woopie!

sashi said...

:) I think we had populated the same shack and railway track, if not at the same time.

sun4none said...

yeah. i wonder wats floyd n dope.. i mean.. its jst like the perffect combo ever.. hehe.. but dope or no dope.. floyd rule man! u jst got the rt names there buddy.. floyd, led zep, maiden.. metallica shud've found its place too.. but well.. sincce ths was a post on poets.. thn ntn beats waters! king! nice blog btw.. jst luved the template.. ok.. me moves on to read ur other posts now!

Anonymous said...

hey, you live in brooklyn, right?
did i tell you i am in madly in love with you? ;-)
i guess i just did.

Sughosh said...

You missed one point - in 1994, David Gilmour wrote "Coming back to life" and cemented Pink Floyd's place in pop culture, drawing it well out of geekland, to the extent that Bollywood actresses now quote it as their favourite track (and Floyd as their favourite band), and unsuspecting PYT's leave Roger Waters concerts with the sheer disappointment of not having heard "Where were you?" :D