I don’t actually differentiate between the time I spend surfing the web, commenting on other blogs or posting to this one. It’s all one to me. And most of the time the routine’s similar. I realise I have a parcel of time where I can do this, I fix myself a cup of camomile or green tea, switch on my Mac, choose some music to listen to and begin.
When it comes to choosing the music, I have a favourite “random” approach:
- 1. Sort the songs by “time”.
- 2. Scan the list very quickly, going from shortest onwards.
- 3. Somewhere after the 2 minutes 30 seconds point, start looking for an interesting sequence of tracks.
- 4. Such a sequence should be at least five songs long.
- 5. Select a song to start with somewhere close to this sequence.
- 6. Listen away.
Other times I sort the music alphabetically by artist or song, then choose a start point in the list, pick out ten songs I feel like listening to, one at a time. Or I go into Recently Added. Sometimes I just pick an album or an artist.
Well, today was a Pick Ten Out After Sorting Artists Alphabetically kind of day. And some of the songs I picked took me back to some wonderful times in Calcutta.
Memories. Listening to Bertie Da Silva for the first time, after Ian Hassan had introduced me to him, when I was looking for someone to add to the 1976 Folkswagen roster [Folkswagen was a charity concert I was helping to organise]. Hearing Bertie sing Today I Killed A Man and Sugaree. That was the start of a great time with Bertie, as we went to university, Bertie reading English, me reading Economics; we hit most of the intercollege festivals together, I was on the quiz circuit those days, and roadie-ing with Bertie, Mel, Fuzz et al; in fact Bertie, Mel and I even started a poetry magazine, Psalms, which managed to last all of one issue; yes I have a copy. One. [I still have an audio tape of Bertie singing the White Plains song. Talking about White Plains, did you know they were a “manufactured” band coming out of the Flowerpot Men stable? The same Flowerpot Men who sang Let’s Go To San Francisco, an hour or so after Flowers In The Rain got BBC Radio One on the “Move” in September 1967. ]
You know I say all my opensource thoughts were influenced more by Jerry Garcia than by anyone else? Well, it was Bertie who made sure that my head stayed Dead during those tumultuous days. A message to any reader who knows where Bertie is right now: If You See Him, Say Hello. From me. Write to me at [email protected] if you find out.
Incidentally, Bertie used to call himself Wilberforce in those days, and was the catalyst that made me delve deeply into William Wilberforce’s life. What a great man. We should hear a lot more about Wilberforce next year, as the tercentenary of his birth approaches.
Memories. Listening to Gyan singing How Far, to Gyan and Jayashree singing Slip Sliding Away. Again at home. [Disclosure: Jayashree is my cousin, she and Gyan are married, I’ve known Jayashree since 1957 and Gyan since 1972]. They too influenced a great deal of my musical taste, we had some truly fabulous times together as Vir (Lakshman), Viraf (Mehta), Vishnu (Shahaney), and I, sometimes aided by Vineet (Katyal) acted as the travelling crowd for what was then Sugarfoot. And now I hear that Gyan and Jayashree have formed Skinny Alley, and have released an album called Escape The Roar. Sadly I can’t seem to be able to buy it online anywhere. There’s only one thing for it. I have to get to Calcutta soon.
Memories. Listening to Moses Ashkenazy singing Forty Thousand Headmen. To Pete Siller doing a wonderful May You Never. Sadly neither of them are around any more, may their souls rest in peace. I still see Anne Siller occasionally in London and Edinburgh, and Michael Ashkenazy when I visit Michal (nee Silliman) in New York.
Memories. Being with many of the people named as we went to listen to Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd playing Desafinado at the Academy of Fine Arts. [Isn’t it something else, for a small word like Desafinado to pack in the richness of meaning in “slightly out of tune” ?] Getting the Jazz Samba album signed by them. [I wonder what happened to that album? Life was such a haze as I left Calcutta with everything packed into a single suitcase after spending all my life there, six months after my dad died, all of twenty-six years ago].