The breaking news in the music world last week was the gobsmacking revelation that Pink Floyd will release a new album, The Endless River in October. Their last release was Division Bell in 1994. Considered lacklustre at the time, it’s quietly atmospheric but did not appeal to a masterpiece-demanding Floyd fan. The ugly fallout of the band members is now stuff of rock legend.
One would imagine if you have the genius to write breathtakingly vivid and multi-sensory music like they did, you’d be above petty disputes involving money and credits. Irrespective, Floyd has been a rite of passage in our lives for 40 years now with their cult only rowing.
I discovered Floyd in 1990 when Delhi was still reeling from the event of the decade, the Human Rights concert held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on September 30, 1988 – an indelible date, etched forever in the memory of anyone who attended. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to see The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, live. A friend’s mother was kind enough to escort three 12-year-old girls. I remember parking at Defence Colony market and walking to the stadium among thousands of attendees with a tiffin box and water bottle.
We had the cheapest tickets for the princely sum of Rs 100 and The Boss who emerged at 1 am, looked like an ant from where we were seated. The concert is memorable for many cringeworthy reasons. Delhiites, who were even more uncouth and racist back then than they are now, booed Tracy Chapman off stage. Poor Peter Gabriel received a similar welcome.
The crowd was marginally more enthusiastic about Sting since Every breath you take was a hit those days. But people had come only for The Boss and he was everything he should have been with his rendition of I’m on fire.
It’s been many years since I’ve heard Springsteen at length but we talked about that concert for at least 10 years after. It opened up a whole new world of sound for many of us who had so far only experienced Stevie Wonder, Madonna and Michael Jackson. We were at the formative age when taste and sensibility begins to develop. With trial and error you eventually stumble on what’s cool to you.
Sadly, as one grows older, there’s never enough music in our lives. Most people in their 30s don’t have the patience to give new rock groups a chance, which is why we get excited about a new Floyd album. We can relate to it because we all have our personal memories.
The Dark Side of the Moon will always remind me of board exams. Money reminds me of a half-hearted attempt to learn the guitar.
No one in the music business can predict who will survive the ‘test of time’ everyone speaks of in reference to truly great music. It’s wholly subjective and raises interesting questions about our preferences.
What we consider awesome is rarely just about music, we’re influenced by our peers or possibly, because we hear the same song on the radio 40 times-a-day. The classics are the ones that endure once the noise has died down. The Wall, an album so sublime and grand it’s impossible to understand it, touches on everything from cosmic angst to isolation.
One still doesn’t know if it’s a cynical view of the futility of everything or a metaphor for boundaries. To quote from the only cheerful line in the entire album, from the song Hey you — ‘Don’t tell me there’s no hope at all, Together we stand, divided we fall.’