Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Sex Machine' is 'Out of Sight' - an Obituary

Today's morning gave me a sad news. James Brown commonly referred to as 'Godfather of Soul' died in Atlanta at the age of 73. Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolised him and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson, among others.

As for me, I fell in love with him the minute I heard 'I Got You (I feel good)' for the first time. I'm not a 'dance' person (to the unhappiness of my girl-friend), but play me any James Brown number and you can see me moving...

Read what Jon Pareles of the NY Times wrote in an obituary that I believe will be updated throughout the day:

Mr. Brown's music was sweaty and complex, disciplined and wild, lusty and socially conscious. Beyond his dozens of hits, Mr. Brown forged an entire musical idiom that is now a foundation of pop worldwide.
"I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know," he wrote in an autobiography.
The funk he introduced in his 1965 hit, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," was both deeply rooted in Africa and thoroughly American. It found the percussive side of every instrument and meshed sharply syncopated patterns into kinetic polyrhythms that simply made people dance.
His innovations reverberated through the soul and rhythm-and-blues of the 1970s and the hip-hop of the next three decades. The beat of his instrumental "Funky Drummer" may well be the most widely sampled rhythm in hip-hop.

He won a Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (best R&B recording) and for Living In America in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male). He was one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, with Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.
Only Elvis had more hits than Brown.

ps: later during the lunch break, I played some of the stuff from the man...my body and feet grooved and I became happy. No great artiste ever dies...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two Smiles In One Day

There are times when you feel good about your country and yesterday was one such day. The Indian cricket team, the Indian judiciary and the intertwined story of human triumph are responsible for this ‘feel-good’. Let me tell you how.

Indian team beat South Africa in their home-turf. While this Test is an incredible story in itself, a tale of great sporting triumph in the face of adversity, it is as much a tale of great human triumph in the face of tremendous hardship and a fascinating mosaic of several individual stories. Big and heroic return of Ganguly, emergence of Sreesanth and comebacks of Zaheer and Laxman. I am not the usual cricket crazy Indian, yet the victory (in more ways than one) gave me a big smile to carry through the day. And it came back today when I read about it in the morning newspaper. The story of this epoch-making Test will be told to young cricketers and readers for a long time, and rightly so.

Even if it's seven years after the crime, justice prevailed in the much-talked case of Jessica Lall’s murder. Rang De Basanti, Citizens of India, the victim’s family & friends, Bina Ramani and the sensibilities (Der Aaye Par Durust Aaye) of the judiciary system of our country contributed towards this much-awaited verdict. Once again, this is a great tale of undying human spirit and its ultimate triumph. So,
this news added to my smile and here I am, writing about my happiness. As for Manu Sharma’s fate, I don’t want to hear another capital punishment from the court of justice. To know why, read my earlier post on the subject at http://tangled-up-in-views.blogspot.com/2006/10/short-piece-on-killing.html
Did you also feel the way I felt about these two stories?

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Dark Star' or 'To all the trips I've had before'

Jerry Garcia said, "Dark Star has meant, while I was playing it, almost as many things as I can sit and imagine". When I heard it for the first time (of course, under certain influences), I thought I made an 11 minutes inter-galactic journey with the bizarrest of the visual imageries surrounding my closed eyes....what a strange trip it was! (for more on Dark Star, you can read this http://arts.ucsc.edu/GDead/AGDL/ds.html)

Thanks to one mp3 player gifted by mr bojangles, I am revisiting 'Dark Star' (no 'influences' this time) these days and been tripping with equal passion. So, I sat down and listed some other great trippy tracks from the 'days' and realised that they will always remain the 'trips'. The list:

  1. Dark Star - Grateful Dead (the tuning in the middle of the song is the 'killer' here)

  2. Highlands - Bob Dylan ( "I'm lost somewhere, I must have made a few bad turns")

  3. The Rain Song - Led Zepplin (used beautifully in the movie 'Almost famous')

  4. Echoes - Pink Floyd (always takes me to a 'cold desert'...though ive never been to one)

  5. T B Sheets - Van Morrison (gotta go, gotta go, gotta go...partners in crime)

  6. Sister Morphine - The Rolling Stones (got hold of the acoustic version of it, recently...excellent!)

  7. Because - The Beatles (guess the movie 'American Beauty' ends with this track)

  8. Heroine - Velvet Underground (very very very heroine...)

  9. Sparks - The Who (listen to it alone in a dark room with a candle burning)

  10. The End - The Doors (remember Apocalypse???)

Genres like Indian Classical, Jazz, Qawwalis, Bhajans, Boleros (specially the one by Ravel) also take you on certain trips but I have limited my list to the 'strange trip' variety (okay...i wont use the word again). My dear 'Do-Re-Me' pals....kindly share your list.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Marlboro Gays

Sony Pix is proving to be a great channel for me...apart from other genres, I've been revisiting old westerners for the last 3-4 day, which in turn made me think of a recent release which can be termed as a 'Disruptive Westerner'- Brokeback Mountain...and it worked!

Contrast is the key to the drama here...2 macho men, straight from the hoardings of marlboro fall for each other, one summer in the locales of snow-covered 'brokeback' mountain.

The movie spans some 20 years of their lives wherein they are trying to balance their respective family lives and the relationship between them. Breathtaking visuals, minimal use of beautiful music and understated performance of heath ledger makes it a good viewing.

With my sexual inclinations, I couldn't empathise with the situation but with my experiences in love, could identify with the emotions involved. A slow pace, repititions of the same situation and a lack of universal appeal are some of the negatives in this oscar nominee. Worth one viewing for all movie buffs (strictly in the theater, but)