Saturday, April 3, 2010


It was my very first guitar class in February this year and my teacher walked in, dazzled us with a couple of minutes of freestyling on the fretboard and got going with the compulsory "To start off, tell me why you want to learn the guitar" session. My answer was a rather unimaginative and plain Jane "I love the sound of the guitar!" (Straight out of the 'Cliched Answer 101') but the guy who sat next to me and who now is much more higher on the guitar learning curve (It figures...) came up with "I want to perfectly play the slow lead section of Led Zep's 'Stairway to Heaven' at least once in my life!" My teacher was suitably impressed with his focus and so was I, and I got thinking.

What would be the one song that I'd learn to play if there were only that one song that I could learn? After much soul searching, leaving the divine creations of the likes of U2, Dire Straits and other classic rock favourites behind, I settled for what on the face seems to be an extremely crude song - "BC Sutta" by the Pakistani band Zeest. There were a lot of college band-ish songs which followed that classic, using coarser swear words, more intellectual lyrics, finer musical arrangements etc and gained immense popularity on the hostel MP3 lists but to me they were horrible, just playing on the sensationalism gained by an overdose of swear words yet somehow lacking in depth and class if I may say so.

The strums of "BC Sutta" have that essential rawness that is in complete sync with its bare-to-bones perfect lyrics, perfect because the lyricist knew exactly where the intensity of the song picked up and where exactly the swear words needed to be used & where not. The heart and soul of the song are right where a rock song's should be, in a very rough and tough place. A few girls from my college recorded a version of the very same song, a version which got frequent play on some boy's hostel PCs who were moronic enough to be taken aback by the fact that girls can swear too. What next? Surprise at the fact that girls breathe too? Some of us guys need to grow up or at least wake up to find that is the 21st century... really!

But that said, girls singing that song sounded so pathetic that it became even more evident why this was really a guy's song. A fair counterpoint to girls singing "BC Sutta" would be to imagine (Oh dear Devil, forgive me for this blasphemy) Metallica singing Shania Twain's "That don't be impress me much". Ha! Now you get the idea! True, that women can do everything that men can but just like some men who find dressing like a drag queen irresistible and are deservedly laughed at, so too should we laugh at women who try something ridiculous and unnecessary like this. Women's lib hopefully has bigger battles to fight than to beat men at their evolution enhanced crudeness, which is something they eventually may be able to but to what end?

The need and craving for a cigarette at the moment when it is most inaccessible, the relief when the first drag hits home, the sense of brotherhood that prevails as smoke fills the hostel room while the lone ciggie does the rounds and the essential ruggedness of being a member of the male species - all put together in 4 minutes 18 seconds in this gem of a song. Ideal scenario - a single room maybe 10 years down the line at Boy's Hostel No. 5 (Chatrawaas No. 5) of REC(NIT??) Kurukshetra, the mattress folded over so as to avoid the Royal Stag spilling onto it, all buddies resting on whatever little real estate they can find in between strewn clothes, fluttering newspapers and similar clutter, guitar in my hands, cigarettes in our lips, smoke clouding the roof of the room and everyone going "Doston mein baithaa, main sutta pi rahaa..." Ah yes! Heaven!

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