Saturday, January 26, 2008

When I was in high school, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with guitar music. I had a classmate who played the guitar and sometimes he would bring it to school and play it a few songs. Nirvana mostly which I couldn't relate to but which invariably attracted the grunge clique but also other stuff and it was through him that I first heard of the Gipsy Kings. I think I heard them play at his house. Pankaj's dad had this fancy Bang and Olufsen system which we all whispered around while he flipped some secret switches and suddenly music filled the room. It was rich and vibrant and it shook the whole drawing-room. (The speakers almost reached the ceiling.) And from then on I was hooked.

I didn't get much pocket money those days so buying a CD in the pre-internet, pre-download era was out of the question. There was, however, a Sony outlet in town where they sold hi-fi equipment and some music and it was to this that I would gravitate to get my fill of this magic music. I would go to the store, pick out the live performance and reverentially slide it into one of the music systems. CD players back them weren't as compact as they are now. Most were rather large with flashing lights and hysterical messages of welcome before you could access the functions you wanted. They had cassette decks and karaoke functions and large round dials that emphasized the power that machine was capable of. I used to stand before one of these and wait for the music to start, for the screaming of the crowd and the introductory warm-up and then the exuberant launch into Allegria, the CD's first instrumental track. It was ecstasy, the way these guys played and the textures they created, the imagery that flowed out of those clumsy speakers. I usually never got past the first track because the store assistants would get impatient with me, a teenager out to score free kicks on their merchandise, but for those brief moments I was in another world.

Last week I bought the CD off for a dollar. It was shipped to me a couple of days ago and I tore open the wrapper expectantly waiting to be reunited with the magic. There was nothing. The CD looked the same, the songs were in the same order, I even remembered the chords but the music had lost its spell. It was just a bunch of guys playing the guitar.

Desire is so over-rated.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Little Tooth

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.

- Thomas Lux

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