Monday, April 9, 2007

Every Grain Of Bob Dylan

I always had a disdainful relationship with this Jew. I am talking bout late nineties. We, a bunch of high school kids, were just waking up to a new kind of music(which would take a little time period of ours measured as 'life' to set in)and exorcising ghosts of MJ and the clan.the music was called 'Rock'. It started,as it used to start back then with Bon Jovi(or Bryan Adams). Howling for a 'baby' with heavy beats and a two-minutes-to-die-for guitar riff...that's how Rock came to us.Most of us did not understand even full lyrics of a single song(The blessings of Internet and would come later)yet chanting the chorus like "you give love a bad name" thousand times was the coolest thing for us to be different. Getting a cheap imitation of a "Gibson" where the big 'B' is replaced by a 'V', having a hairdo like ..well, Alec John Such(that's all you could afford in India then with 10 rupees as your weekly gain) were next steps. So it was our big time entry in rock heading towards EXIT:GLAM ROCK in route 666.

That progress from Bryan Adams to Bon Jovi to Van Halen would come to an end on my eighteenth birthday when I would order in the local music store and would buy an album called "The Wall" by a crap-sounding British band, Pink Floyd(Actually it was suggested as a complete "Bucks-on-bucks" by my then newly met friend, Arani Basu). The rest, as they say in the cliche, was history and a few metric tons of 'Grass'. What followed next was a life long enchantment for that obscure,dysfunctional British Band and an effort to sniff the socks of their contemporaries like Mr James Morrison, Mr James Hendrix, Mr James Page (Wow so many James...but Mr Blunt does not feature in this list).
So, my constant friend, by the time Britney Spears lost her virginity for seventh time and covered "I love rock n roll" for her fourth album our consciousness was taking the joyride from pop rock to more 'serios' stuff.Zack De La Rocha sold us a platterful of hate for the big brother, Iron Maiden sold us the key to enter into the shrine of heavy metal,Nirvana sold us confusion,U2 sold us world peace or something like that,Tommy Lee sold us home entertainment featuring Ms. Anderson.
Mr. Rober Zymmerman(hereafter referred as Bob Dylan) was living in a distant galaxy from us.
It's not like we had not tried him. Taking cues from the revolutionary Bengali song writer Kabir Suman, who did a rendition of Dylan's "Blowin' in the wind", we listened to most of his radio hits.The situation could be described as, if you were a fan of Suman those days you would inevitably end up trying at least "Blowin' in the wind" and "Like a rollin' stone". The end result might vary but for me it was sheer disdain. I could not figure out that how can they allow a man with a voice like a love struck toad and tunes which seemed...well...not exactly like Pink Floyd ...even not like Butthole Surfers cut albums for such a long period of time? So I bought "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hit Vol 2" one day, could not go beyond the fifth track (which was "Chimes of Freedom") and eneded up overwriting it with immortal radio hits like "18 till I die" and "Who the fuck is Alice".
To cut the long story short, I stayed away from Mr. B-O-B D-Y-L-A-N.
As I reached a few miles in this century,I was happy to have my Rock talk for satan,sex,drugs, anti-establishment,alienation,psychedelia,suicide,homophobia,wars,psychopaths...everything except love.I myself tried to write all those stuffs which scream "death, acid, fuck,killing" in every other line. My dream was to have a rock band which will fuse Sanskrit with sinister. But somewhere , a little clown called 'time' was having a different plan for me. My days of growing up had come and the jester would not let me go without choosing my poor soul as his ball for juggling. So, somewhere in 2004 I found myself stuck in an air conditioned office, digging my days in an effort to stay afloat in the ocean of million faceless IT workers like myself. The joker was having a ball. My days of freedom were over, I grew into a man confused,downtrodden,burdened and addicted to agnosticism. With lots of complains going inside my head and another lot of existential dilemma, I found out that someone had snatched all my time for my intellectual exercises. Out of habit(and newly earned money) I did buy some albums of modern rocks or modern lits but they were left to rest in peace in my daily existence of dementia.
So, it was out of habit when one afternoon I started upon my second attempt to buy a classic rock album( By then I have written RIP for Floyd and neither NIN or Metallica was going to buy a land in 'Sunetro-Banerjee's-favorite-band' cemetery). I ended my search on a 3 disk-set called "Biograph" having the picture of a less grumpy and less avuncular BOB on its cover. Actually , the motivation for buying that album was , well, just one song which hit me in a hot afternoon while I was killing my time by pretending as a busy project trainee in Indian Statistical Institute's Neural Network lab. It was Debrup Chakraborty, my now disconnected icon of youth who while browsing thru offered me a glimpse into another side of bob dylan. The song was "Every Grain of Sand" and the website allowed me to listen to the opening lines only. But, I got that feeling, the same feeling which Dave Gilmore gave me with his second riff in 'Comfortably Numb', the same feeling which Vincent gave me with his 'potato eaters', Camus with his 'Stranger',Allan Moore with his 'V for Vendetta'. Again to repeat the cliche "I was hooked". And then started the 'search'. I searched a whole three years to get the full song. I searched in Indian Market which was full with Dylan's hit albums like Greatest hits,Time out mind but not an obscure one like Shot of love( where the song originally appeared).
The search ended another hot afternoon when I lay my hands on "Biograph". I was tired and excited. never before I bought a CD just to listen one song and here I had three CDs containing fifty one howling from Mr Dylan and just one of my gem. You, my constant reader, may call it a shot of insanity, but I was like that.
So, I returned my home to listen to the full version of the song that eluded me for long. Along the way I picked up few others and I cried and I laughed and cursed myself for not feeling the oneness with Bob's lyrics, with his wounds, with his protests, with his undying love and lust for life for so long.I picked up verses like "there is no use in trying/ the deal with the dying" from "to ramona" or "If I'd lived my life by what others were thinkin', the heart inside me would've died.I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity,Someone had to reach for the risin' star,I guess it was up to me." from "up to me". The lyrics were on, his voice was feeling my head and long long time after Floyd I was getting someone to talk of my agonies and of my rejoices. So, at last the Jew from Minnesota did succeed to enthrall me and I am afraid that in my times of deepest pain which are coming back too often now, I don't have any place to go but to his voice and to his lyrics. You won me Bob.
And constant reader , if you are going to ask that what happened to "every grain of sand", the song for which i am supposed to write this blog,go listen to it yourself. After all we all need a prayer to hang on and to fall in love,once again.

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