November 17, 2013

Nostalgia, Casette Player and Walkman

I am going to Alabama with my banjo in my knee.
Rodricks Sir, we had an English music teacher in our convent. Few men were allowed in the premises and out of them he was a young good looking chap, with his manners in place and his English was sprightly too, my girls.
He was the first guy who introduced me to English music. The music session started with Old Mac Donald had a farm - a nursery rhyme now, back then it was a fun folk English song. Later this guy took us a notch up, with his guitar to accompany and the soulful music flowing. We graduated to Eric Claptons' Oh think twice, it's just another day for you and me in paradise.
The beauty and depth of music. The sounds I learnt as a child have stayed with me. The folk songs learnt at home and the foreign music in convent school. Different worlds, different themes, different societies merging into one.
I loved what I heard and even now I get nostalgic when the old music plays. Whether it was the old cassette player with which we heard one cassette again and again changing sides, listening to each song again and again till we could hum the tune, learnt the lyrics by heart, or figured the dance steps and finger tapping whenever peppy tune played.

Reversing our favourite songs again and again or forwarding not so favourite songs to play the best ones. Sometimes I even took out the cassette and fwded the reel with my finger tips or with the help of a pencil or pen - the convenient manual player. There were no Repeat buttons back then. You can imagine our joy when we got our first Philips brand music player from our aunt from America. Expensive stuff asked for expensive accessories. The huge speakers, the remote control, the two tapes and 1cd set, the wave display and all sorts of fancy buttons. The buying pattern of Cassettes worth Rs 25 transitioned to CDs for Rs 50 or 100.
But then who can forget the world of Mixed Tapes. The one cassette with all your assorted fav songs. We didn't gave the term burn - it was plain and simple make a mixed tape. You borrowed cassettes from friends, took your own old cassettes and track the radio to record the best collection of songs that you would love to hear when alone or when traveling and sometimes even gift to that special someone.
The lack of hi fi technology made recording difficult. Locking oneself in a closed room, asking all others to keep quiet or keep out. There were times when someone barged in while you were recording, or made some sound, the door bell or the phone rang, or someone started banging the door, mom calling or shouting, and all these sounds recorded over our along with the songs. Murphy's law in full action.
You were irritated initially but they became as much part of the song and your memories. You laughed with others.
People acknowledged the effort that went behind it and that too without any technical help. There were professionals for this job, but they charged per song about Rs  5 or up to 10. But they lacked the personal touch, the effort put in by you to create the mixed tape.
Sometime so private that you could only hear on walkman. Yes walk man another memory where you could enjoy music in a crowd full of people talking or sleeping. Your personal space even on a crowded train or bus. Now it's about head phones, then it was walkman. I remember how walk man was the best gift a teenager could get and a must for all travels. My boy friend had made a mixed tape for me with narration and songs sung in his own voice. He could record it and I could hear it only in the privacy of our Walk men (or is it walk mans).
Have you heard of voice recorder, unlike the phone and video cameras, in those days we had this voice recorder which was used for recording special moments or meetings. I don't know why my Dad had it, he never really used it but as a child I was deeply intrigued with it. I used to take it out of my mom's cupboard and use it often. To record my voice or sing songs and then play to hear it back. To feel my voice if I heard it as another. How do I sound to others because that's not how I sounded to myself when I spoke. It always excited me because my talking voice was different from my hearing voice or was it the limitation of the voice recorder.
The music of my teens has stayed with me as much as the cassette player, voice recorder and walk man. Here is my lists of top 10 in music:
1. Always by Whitney Houston
2. I will always love you by Meatloaf
3. Love me love me by Cardigans
4. Leaving on a Jet plain by John Denver
5. Truly madly deeply by Savage Garden
6. A Better man by Robbie Williams
7. River of Dreams by Billy Joel
8. Every breath you take by Police
9. Annie's song by John Denver (that's how love made me feel forever)
10. Who the fuck is Alice (the crowd especially loved shouting this line in a party when DJ put the music on mute. Oh the rush of speaking the f*** word when you are young and rebellious)
These are the evergreen English songs, and even when I am not a big English music fan with Indian and Bollywood being my favourites. There are so many stories to it. The time we played Phir teri kahani yaad aayi cassette on car stereo on our entire journey to and back from Massouri, group of teenagers packed in a car with adults following in another car. Another time it was Dil hai ki manta nahin, probably on our way to Manali.
There were Hindi audio cassettes which I bought with the savings from my pocket money. I remember for my Dad's birthday I wanted to buy him ghazals as he was a fan of Ghalib. I had no knowledge of ghazals so I bought the only one I could afford Mehdi Hassan Selected Songs. My dad smiled when I gave it to him but I think he never ever played it.
Memories and nostalgia, it's flooding me, so let me enjoy the sinking feeling while you too enjoy the music of 80s and 90s. They are definitely for keepsake.
So tell me favourite songs of your teens...

6 comments:

Indrani said...

I have those cassette players and some cassettes too. Mostly of old Hindi movie songs.

Neha Gupta said...

Yup. I too have saved some. Do you listen to them occasionally.

Anil Krishnanunni said...

uufff! Nostalgia :'D I used to listen to Vengaboys and Dilse album in my Walkman everyday! One of my first memories.

Neha Gupta said...

Omg vengaboys. Yes they were real fun. And who can forget the days of repeat listening to ar rehman doling out one after another of the greatest hits... truely nostalgic

Sweet said...

Hey...stumbled here...and loved it...annes song is my favourite too...I.ll add bon Jovi too...
Cheers

Neha said...

Hey Sweet. Yes the old classics... even Bon Jovi... thanks for stopping by

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