The time was the early 1970s. We had already moved to the last house that we were to occupy during our stay on the beautiful IIT Madras campus. My cousin had also moved in with us, into our home at B-8 Delhi Avenue, near the Shopping Center and the Staff Club.
It was a beautiful place. There was greenery all around us. There were trees all around our home. There were the woods in front of the house. We had a beautiful garden. Although I did not appreciate it at that innocent age, it was an idyllic set of conditions on campus. Life was good. We grew up in a happy set of circumstances. We made friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
But those days must have also been a major displacement for my cousin, with his parents and brother having moved to the United States, and with his having to move in with us on the IIT campus. Thank goodness that he also had lots of friends from the neighborhood and from school. He managed without complaining in spite of having to share a room with me, a most immature person with his own teenage issues. (Although I am no longer a teenager, I wonder how much of that immaturity still follows me.)
One of the things I remember from those young days was the fact that my cousin used to get “things” from his parents in the US. Since I was into music, I appreciated sharing the little Mitsubishi combination Cassette player/shortwave radio that his dad had sent him. (I remember tinkering with the device and even connecting it to the amplifier that I had made at home.) I remember that my uncle also brought some music for me to listen to, including cassettes of the latest music from Neil Diamond and Led Zeppelin. But the one thing that subconsciously impacted me the most was probably the cassette tape he brought back with a recording of music from radio stations in the US. The tape was most likely put together by my cousin’s brother. I listened to this music over and over again and it got ingrained in my brain. Later on in life I heard some of this music with a warm sense of familiarity. It took me back to a happy place.
Fast forward to the year 2014… As a middle-aged parent of two wonderful girls who have tackled the teenage years of their own lives with aplomb, as a person dealing with the issues that are typical of middle-age, I still find myself listening to the music of the 70s. An extended exercise regime that I have taken up (to address at least one of my middle-age issues) has brought me to the treadmill in the basement of our home on a regular basis. While on the treadmill, I end up listening to 1970s music playing on one of those music channels I get via my TV service provider. The 70s channel playlist includes all kinds of songs that take me back. Then there was this moment a few days ago when I heard this song that I had not heard for very a long time. The memory cells were awakened in some long-forgotten corner of my brain. It was a song from the cassette tape that my uncle had given us a long time ago! I was back in an old forgotten place. I made sure I remembered the name of the song as it flashed on the TV screen while I was running.
Later on, in front of the computer monitor, I listened to the song once again. (Youtube is a wonderful thing!) I realized that the song that I was listening to was not in a style of music that I spend too much time with, but I also realized that I was listening to something that was unique and notable. I was listening to 70s funk music in its purest and most raw form. And the nature of this song was something unique, something that had caused little details to get stuck in the back of my head even though I had paid little attention to any of it. The video also reminded me about how times change, and how music changes with the times, about how styles change with the times, to the extent that we might even forget some of the unique stuff that we grew up with. I have a feeling that most of the folks that I am sending this e-mail to have no exposure at all to the kind of music I am talking about in this particular instance, but I am going to share the music anyway, in the hopes that at least one person will appreciate it. I am sending this e-mail to people in different age groups, and I am curious as to the age group of the people/person who is most likely to react to this. Or perhaps I am in a place of my own and nobody else cares. It does not matter. The song is “Once you get started” by Rufus and Chaka Khan.
Dig that funky music! Dig that far-out keyboard riff! Dig that awesome bass guitar line! Dig those bell-bottoms!