I forgotten about music. I know it seems like quite a strange statement to make but really, when I was in school and especially college, I always had music constantly playing in my life. I can never forget this train trip I took to Lucknow for this big inter-school competition called MacFair. A bunch of us from Welham took this overnight train, and I had borrowed my friend Rifq’s walkmen, which was almost always playing Def Lepard’s ‘The Vault’ on repeat. I remember being awake on the train – I always took the aisle berth -- and listening to the songs as I saw the sunrise over fields, farmers already starting to the till the land, and the day gradually begin. Even at Lucknow, staying in makeshift dorms at the City Montessari School, I would wake up early, get ready, plug it in and watch from a balcony while I saw the campus slowly come to life. The cleaning ladies, followed by the canteen staffed who opened up, the first trickle of students heading to campus from their dorms. The Walkman got stolen while I was there, but the music was imprinted for life.
I always had music on in my room through the teenage years. I’d wake up and put it on, sleep to music, blare it while bathing. I had cassette players that would pop shut as the side was over, and I’d never worry about it being ‘on’ the whole night. My car has always had music, just loud enough for me to not get bothered by traffic. I had albums for particular roads, and songs for particular turns. I had getting ready music, sad music, sleeping music, dancing music… playlists ready and waiting.
Then a change happened. I shifted all my music to laptops that were never loud enough, and I started getting worried about having them plugged all night. I’d worrying about draining them of battery, so wouldn’t leave them on when sleeping. I was driving less, and suddenly TV shows on laptops, even on in the background, replaced music. Walkmans were all but lost, and I hadn’t been an early ipod adopter. And even when I did, it remained for travel; flights and airports, taxis and infrequently, trains. Days of just listening to music in my room seemed a distant memory.
But still, a few days stand out. The train ride to Oxford, where I listened to Kings of Leon on repeat, the euphoria knowing I was going to listen to them live in a few days – the euphoria I still feel every time I hear the album. The day I walked around Sydney listening to Empire of the Sun on my ipod, or discovering Adele on a bus in Australia a year after everyone did. The night I stayed up all night in Goa, listening to the Stars and feeling sad. Or Kanye West to crack up at the lyrics and ignore Delhi airport stress! But, music floating around me went away. Electronic music all but disappeared from my life. Suddenly people were having intense indie music conversations on Facebook, and I didn’t even know any of the bands! I stopped driving as much, and the radio, often entertaining, only played chart-topping numbers. The good stuff seemed elusive.
I really had to make an effort to update myself, discovering new music. Days of those intense double deck cassette recordings, improbably, seemed so much more accessible. One day, divine intervention, I got into my car to find a USB plugged into the music system with all my music on it. I resolved to buy a music system I can go to sleep to. To separate my laptop from music. This particular convergence has been terrible for me, even if my reading, writing and TV watching is all the better for it.
And so, at 1am, I write this to Billy Idol on itunes. That’s something.