Monday, September 25, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Interestingly,the opening track of Dark Side of the Moon isn't a track at all. Speak to me is at most a collection of sounds interspersed with random dialogues, and it may appear to a first-timer as utter and absolute cow dung. Well, I don't think too highly of the piece even now for that matter. But as you listen to the album again and again, it becomes a part of the experience. As I mentioned before, DSOTM isn't really an album. It's one long song,and Speak to Me just gels in so well. You can start directly with the next track,which is perhaps the first actual song,but it feels so incomplete and abrupt once you get used to listening the entire album at once,which,in my humble opinion,is the only way. The heartbeat sound at the start of the track is quite obviously the very essence of the album. Pink Floyd's obsession with cyclic compositions also seems to have originated here, cos the heartbeat sound is also heard at the end of Eclipse,the closing track of the album,and if you repeat the album, it segues into Speak to Me again,so that the journey is never really finished. This was perhaps a relatively vague indication towards the much clearer use of cyles in The Wall,where there is a much more explicit and clear purpose and meaning to it. That the end of an era is the beginning of another.
The heartbeat sound gives way,well,actually it keeps running the background,as some other weird sounds, similar to cash register type jingle at the start of Money, take over. The spoken words that follow are amazing in the craziest way. Much of these don't make much sense, but that doesn't do much harm to their amazing quotient. These were answers to Waters' question Are you Mad? Almost all the featured answers were given by the road crew and the Abbey Road studio staff.
I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands....
I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us are...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad...
Surprisingly, Nick Mason received sole songwriting credit for this one. To me, the song appears totally Watersque. But if Mason did come up with the idea, kudos to him even though it might appear there wasn't really a song to write. The idea was priceless nonetheless,though Waters has later said that the credit was kind of a gift to Mason. That obviously didn't help band relations, but then Waters never did much to that effect anyway.
The song ends with a chilling scream by Clare Torry,who later provides a much better glimpse of her vocal talents on The Great gig in the sky. Again, once you get used to listening to the album, you can't wait to hear Breathe after the scream. And also, you don't want to listen to Breathe without the scream.
I'm in a bad way from trying to kick the addiction!
Sunday, July 30, 2006
English version in देवनागरी script:
व्हेन आइ वाज़ अ चाइल्ड आइ हैड अ फ़ीवर
माइ हैन्ड्ज़ फ़ेल्ट लाइक टू बैलून्ज़
नाओ आइव गौट दैट फ़ीलिन्ग वन्स अगेन
आइ कान्ट एक्सप्लेन, यूल नौट अन्डरस्टैन्ड
दिस इज़ नौट हाओ आइ ऐम
आआआआइ हैव बिकम कमफ़र्टेबली नम्ब
and now,the literal Hindi(Bhojpuri, to be more exact) translation in English script, thanks to a particularly jobless junior:
jab hum tha ek bachwa, tab humko hua bukhar
humar haath gaye phool, jaise ki do bailoon
ab humko hua e feeling ek baar aur, par karo gaur
hum samjha nahi sakte, aap nahi na samjhiyega
hum waise nahi hain jaise abhi hain
ab ban gaye hain hum, aaramtalbi aur sunn
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Dark Side of the moon is a statement of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out.
-Roger Waters, Making of Dark side of the Moon DVD
I thought of it in pretty similar terms but watching the making DVD gave words to my feelings. That’s perhaps the magic of the album too. It gives words to the quiet rebellion and emotional apathy faced by the entire generation at the time when the album came out. Actually, it wasn't just that generation. As David Gilmour says,
The ideas that Roger was exploring apply to every new generation.They still very much have the same relevance that they had
Consider the issues in question here: Time (or perhaps the lack of it), Money (or more accurately, greed), Death (that mystifying obsession), War and peace, pressures of traveling (who'd know better than rock bands?) and finally, the combined effect of all these leading a person to Insanity (perhaps considered an issue for the first time).
Waters is a philosopher much more than a musician, there's no doubt about it. Perhaps he can be compared to another contemporary, Pete Townshend of The Who, but his words had much more of the seething anger and political activism, and at the same time humanitarian pathos than even Pete's. This was the first time he wrote the entire lyrics for a Floyd album, and the effect is more than apparent. This one was much more tight in its lyrical content than all its predecessors. It was, in many ways, one of the first concept albums, if you please! Of course, The Who's Tommy preceded it by more than four years, so did S.F.Sorrow by The Pretty things. But the chief difference between DSOTM and the above two, as well as the numerous other concept albums that followed, including Floyd's own The Wall, was that the conscious attempt to knit it around a theme wasn't there. It evolved out of itself, which is perhaps the most breathtaking part. At no point does it appear that an attempt to narrate a story is being made. Yet there is a definitive mood to the album that gradually builds up and reaches a crescendo towards the end. In the words of one of the editors of Rolling Stone magazine,
The concept is there, the songs are there, the spaces in the music are there, but it doesn't take anything away from the imagination.
One of the most popular concept albums at that point was probably Sgt. Pepper's lonely-hearts club band by none other than The Beatles. It still is the greatest album of all time according to numerous surveys and ratings. Well, yea maybe the greatest rock album of all time, but Rolling Stone forgot to specify that. Clearly, I don't agree. No true blue Floydian will ever agree that anybody, absolutely anybody could top Floyd when it came to a concept album.
Yea yea I can see many people shaking their heads in disagreement already. (Assuming of course that many people actually read this blog!).
To each his own, I say!
Anyway, moving on.... consider the content of Floyd's songs before this work. They had started out with Syd Barrett as their leader and chief songwriter. He was a very talented songwriter, there is no doubt.Very imaginative, his influences were varied. But mostly limited to pop fantasies, as is pretty clear in songs like Astronomy Domine and Arnold Layne. The latter was about an actual person who went around English backyards sniffing girls' panties. As I said before, it was his imagination that allowed him to even think about writing a song on such a subject. But what has to be kept in mind is, he wrote pretty shallow stuff. For all his popularity, which followed his disintegration, one must remember that he was an unusually experimental but still not the most talented songwriter and musician. When he was around, what Floyd had was a clear direction, and that was psychedelic music, or as many people put it, Space Rock!
Their sound was otherworldly. People hadn't heard anything like that before, which was probably the reason their debut album, The Piper at the gates of dawn, was a big hit in its own right. I'm not sure what would have been the fate of the band had Syd stuck around, but the fact is he didn't. His schizophrenia combined with the adverse effects of some of the drugs he was experimenting with, led to such a severe dissociation from reality that he's still not completely attached to it after nearly forty years!
His downfall was a tragedy for the other band members in more ways than one. Not only had they lost a good friend, but also a charismatic and talented leader. As Waters himself says, "We were fumbling in the darkness, looking for direction".
They didn't have many ideas to begin with. They continued with the sonic experimentation techniques, now making the pieces longer and more elaborate than ever, thanks to the immensely talented David Gilmour who replaced Syd as the lead guitarist. The content was still pretty much in keeping with their image of a space rock band, what with numbers like Set the controls for the heart of the sun and Let there be more light. Perhaps the very first time Waters' gave vent to his feelings was in Corporal clegg. The song is about a soldier who lost his leg in World War II, and his apparently alcoholic wife. It is the first mention of war in a Floyd song, something that would become a common theme later. All these songs were part of the album A Saucerful of secrets . An instrumental piece of the same name was also included in the album.
All in all, a very spacey album. The next album, Ummagumma, was a combination of experimental sounds and live recordings. The experimentation techniques continued in Atom Heart Mother, and the lyrical content wasn't much richer either. Fat old Sun is a beautiful song from the album, but then, it's about the sun, if not about outer space. The focus was shifting indeed, but the sun is still a long way off, and so were Floyd.
Waters admits to "having no access to the crazed insights of Syd, infact for the first few years having no insights at all" .It was with the next album, Meddle, that Floyd cam into their own for the first time and sort of outlined the path that they were going to tread during most of the next decade.
The first side was "only songs". A pillow of winds is probably the only romantic number Floyd has ever recorded, Seamus was the height of experimentation with an Afghan wolfhound doing the lead vocals! Fearless was nothing to write home about and San Tropez was a very simple waltz. One of these days was probably the pick on this side. Instrumental but extremely catchy, it has just the one line menacing vocal by Nick Mason, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces". It still is a concert favourite. But the flip side was truly the beginning of Floyd.
If you want to know my real feelings about Echoes, you should read one of the earlier posts in this blog, http://drinkfloyd.blogspot.com/2005/05/no-one-sings-me-lullabies.html
As of now, all I can do is quote Waters,
"Echoes" was the beginning of writing about "other people", if you please......it was the beginning of empathy.
He obviously knows what he’s saying. It’s his song after all. But what’s more important, I seem to know what he’s saying too. The lyrics convey the same,
Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet,
I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand, and lead you through the land,
And help me understand the best I can
I hope now you also know what he was saying :D
The lyrics, as Waters himself admits, are not very complex. But they touch a chord. Which is probably the hardest thing to do, I mean to accomplish it with simple words.
Musically, too, Echoes was in many ways an indication of the shape of the things to follow. Experimental, yet basically melodious, it was probably one of the first times all the band members had written a song together, and the result was there for all to see.
Back to the Dark Side. Hmmm…just realized how appropriate the name is. When compared to other stuff at that point of time. David Bowie’s The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, another concept album, and one of the greatest of all time at that! Musically very catchy and innovative at the same time. It is probably one of the most influential albums in rock history. But, as someone has very wisely written on Wikipedia, The album is considered archetypal glam rock, full of hard rock guitar riffs, catchy choruses and confusing, opiate lyrics. The depth in lyrics simply wasn’t there. In that sense, Dark Side really did bring forward the dark side.
Anyway, enough about the lyrics. I’m making it sound as if it was poetry sung below par!
Far from that, mate! I do seriously believe, and so do millions of others, I’m sure, that it is the most optimum combination of words and music that Floyd ever achieved. It was probably again the result of all of them working together. Gilmour and Waters wrote most of the music, but Richard Wright too contributed with two amazing songs, The Great gig in the sky and Us and Them. Whether it’s Time’s soaring guitar solo, or Money’s unusual time signature, or the brooding rhythm of Brain Damage, this album had it all to ensure that nobody, but nobody would be able to match it ever. It does not belong to any genre, probably which is why people cutting across all genres love it equally. Critically speaking, the music was sort of a bridge between the then immensely popular blues-rock and the then relatively new electronic music. That bridge is probably exemplified by Gilmour's guitaring, which was bluesy, but at the same time retained that spacey, ethereal feel from the previous Floyd sound. Call it progressive rock, underground music, whatever, but the fact is that avant-garde music had never been so popular, and probably would never be again.Wright has very accurately said,
There are a lot of things in the album, which are kind of magical…and it just happened.
Another magical touch was provided by the voices of various people, mostly the studio and road crew, which were inserted in the spaces between the songs. Magical is indeed the most appropriate word for the way it turned out eventually. When you listen to the songs more than a couple of times, you start expecting the dialogues, as if they were part of the music. Many of the words have become legendary themselves, and the Irish doorman of Abbey road studio has earned more fame than he ever would have imagined with his now memorable line,
There is no dark side of the moon really, matter of fact it's all dark
But my personal favourites are from Speak to me,
I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands.
I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad. Very hard to say why you’re mad, even when you’re not mad
Who came up with the idea is not completely known, but it was Waters in all probability. Such crazy ideas were usually his forte. What he did was, he wrote different questions on placards like, “When was the last time you thumped someone?”, “Why are you afraid of dying?”, “What do you think of madness?”. He then flashed these placards randomly before different people and included the most spontaneous answers in the songs. Paul McCartney was interviewed too, but expectedly, his answers were considered too made up and hence were not included.
A song wise analysis (read tribute) seems too enticing to avoid at this point. But this post is getting rather long, and I’m getting rather tired of typing. So that’ll have to wait till the next post. Till then, maybe you should listen to the album, if you already haven’t. And yea, the entire album should be preferably listened to at a go, uninterrupted. The songs segue into each other, which means it is basically one long song. The effort is conscious but never forced. Happy listening!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Something without reason.Many of them are ardent Floyd fans themselves,some of them actually baptised into the religion by yours truly.But they do have an other musical life.Some are inclined towards modern hindi numbers,others have a taste in contemporary Paki bands.still others have explored much farther and are now into jazz and hardcore blues,the very influences of most rock bands including Floyd.All of them are conventional non-Floyd rock lovers too obviously.Led Zep,The Beatles,The Rolling Stones,Jimi Hendrix,all find following among them.I love most of the aforementioned genres myself,especially the blues.and all the other other rock bands too.But my Floyd addiction threatens to grow to dangerous proportions.I listen to other music on and off but always,always end up listening to one Floyd album or the other in its entirety at the end of it all.others have moved on and retained their love of Floyd at the same time.I don't even attempt it,for the fear of succeeding.
Evangelist,eh? yea that's probably how they see me,very very politely put.But there's no doubt my obsession,though not understood, is still respected.
Which is why when I suggested to Mandu that I'm planning to buy the original Making of DSotM DVD ,during my summer internship in Korea,if available i.e.,he understood my desperation and actually downloaded it from the net almost immediately.God bless him!
I've already watched it three times since yesterday,and will now write it on a DVD and take it to Home.home again.....
I'm in love,again.
p.s.More on my affair in the next post,which will attempt to (shudder),actually review the piece for assorted lunatics called Dark Side of the Moon.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Friday, December 30, 2005
.....I can't explain, you'll definitely not understand.why have I become Comfortably Numb? According to most Floyd followers,this shoulda been the first one to discuss in this blog.But its such an overwhelming experience for me,I could never bring myself to describe it,cos I really can't.
But anyway,I've done it enough injustice now.It is,quite simply,the greatest song I've heard in my entire fuckin life,its an experience that transports me to alternate levels. I enjoy it soo fuckin much that I'm afraid anyday they're gonna declare it illegal. I'm quite in the state that Pink is in during this song(in the movie).
So what is so great about this one?Hmmm.....everything I guess. Waters wrote the lyrics,and Gilmour wrote most of the music,and their collective effort,a rare thing at the time when the album was recorded,does show up as something exceptional in comparision to the rest of the album. Gilmour himself has said about the recording sessions,"We [Gilmour and Waters] argued over Comfortably Numb like mad. Really had a big fight, went on for ages".They were absolutely at loggerheads during the entire recording.Waters had written the lyrics in continuity with the entire album.At this stage in the album,the protagonist Pink is in a state of delirium,nearly comatose.The show is about to start and his manager desperately tries to bring back his consciousness,even as the doctor protests pleading that his condition is too bad.
The lyrics are basically a conversation between the Doc and Pink.The parts that Waters sings (starying with the haunting "Hello,hello....") are the doc's words,as he enquires Pink about his condition.Gilmour's part("there is no pain....") is Pink's reply.Gilmour being basically a musician,prefers to divide the song into 2 parts musically.Dark(the doctor's part) and Light (pink's reply).If u don't know what that means and haven't heard the song,listen to it and you'll understand it perfectly.Needless to say,the words are BEAUtiful.Waters is a magician,theres no two ways about it.
But the reason the song has gone on to become both Floyd and Classic rock's flagship number is definitely Gilmour's magic with his Fender strat.When you listen to the song for the first time,the music does invade your senses much faster than the lyrics and its only after a period that you start to pay attention to the lyrics.Gilmour's overall musical arrangement for the song and his two soarin-like-an-eagle-and-haunting-like-a-haunted-house guitar solos hits you so hard you get addicted instantaneously.He had written the music for it seperately for his solo album and brought it to the recording sessions. The two legends argued over the opening part and in the end Waters won.As it appears to me the conversation apparently ended in a "Ok-you-sing-your-part-I-sing-mine" kind of a truce,cos that is what they did.
The song starts of with Waters dark and haunting voice calling out "Hello,hello,hello....." and later gives way to the Light part sung by Gilmour.The first solo follows which immediately catches hold of me and takes me as high as the first note.Then its a crashing fall as the Dark Knight Returns(whoopsiedaisies!).The second verse is followed by one of the most famous solos in the history of rock n roll.I love the original version(The Wall) but I'm simply addicted to the one Gilmour played in Pulse.Its a couple of minutes longer and many levels higher than the album version.People try to convince me all the time that I'd enjoy it much,much more if I were stoned,but I try to make them realise that if I enjoyed it any more it would be positively illegal.
Man,why have modern day musicians given up on the guitar???Some psycho serial killer please eliminate all the rappers and hip-hoppers and pop stars and boy bands and shakiras and remix artists and punjabi musicians so that its the rule of rock-n-roll all over again.Why wasnt I alive in the 70's?Why,why,why???