Sometime during the early 90s, I was sitting on a wooden barricade at the YMCA grounds in Royapettah, dragging on what I thought was a Wills NavyCut (an hour later, some hazy faces told me it was “grass”). 13AD was playing the opening riff of an English song that obviously had an impact on Phillip Cherian who was getting ready to explode in drooling delight. “Wow…O…God…mmm….mochaan*…fuck” were his words, I think, though not in that order. Not too impressed with me being not too impressed, Cherian berated me in classic peter english – What? Fuck…mochaan, what? You don’t know “Sweet Child O’Mine”?. I think I might have nodded and then fallen off that barricade..
In retrospect, I should’ve just stayed home watching ‘Oliyum OLiyum’. Atleast Amala & Kushbu seemed happy to see me, as opposed to the “sexy Punjabi-Mallu hybrid” from Church Park that gave us the look usually reserved for the dissected frog in her Biology Lab. But…Cherian’s spluttering outburst did not just anoint me in a rain of spittle but also sparked off a personal moment of epiphany for my grassed out self. That I should always carry a handkerchief, AND that Boney M was not “in” anymore. Neither was ABBA nor Jim Reeves. In fact, Jim Reeves was never in, except maybe in Dr.D.G.S.Dinakaran’s house (ha ha ha). My Ilaiyaraja collection was flourishing, but my English collection could use some nourishing (and my rhyming skills too). An upgrade was in order.
Hard Rock/Metal was just too loud, I decided. Sacrilege, screamed the Bon Jovi/Iron Maiden fans and the lone King Kobra fan. So I tapped into the collections of those who thought Axl Rose was just another “hottie” like Samantha Fox – the “casual” listener. You know, the ones that couldn’t care less if Coltrane breathed magic into a sax or make highbrow jokes about ‘Norwegian Wood’ being dedicated to a boner caused by a Scandinavian model. It’s almost eerie how every one of this kind owned the same set of songs on tape. Like it was handed out at one of their secret cult meetings in the basement of Alsa Mall. Which is why I think my first serious English compilation tape probably looked something like this:
Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
Part-time Lover – Stevie Wonder
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna
Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
Faith – George Michael
Every breath you take – The Police
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
Don’t worry, Be happy – Bobby McFerrin
Careless Whisper – Wham
Thriller/Beat It – Michael Jakcson
Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
Lady In Red – Chris DeBurgh
Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You – George Benson
and *drum roll*
Hotel California – Eagles
If you think I might have missed out on some of the necessary classics, then please let me know. I’d love to know what I might have forgotten.
*mochaan – the peter equivalent of machaan