Three Songs, Four Years

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl is not even aware of boy’s existence. Linkin Park songs make sense to boy. 4 years pass, boy finishes college, gets a job and finally grows up. Linkin Park songs stop making sense.

For those of you who haven’t spent 4 years in an Indian engineering college hostel, it might be beneficial if I clarify certain terms, actually one term in particular. It’s an acronym – F.O.S.L.A. (most commonly pronounced as pho-ss-laa). It stands for Frustrated One Sided Lovers’ Association. It’s not a “real” organization in the sense say, The Rotary Club or the Freemasons or even Automobile Association of America, but for all intents and purposes it is the single greatest demographic in Indian college life. The criteria for participation are simple –

  • You have to be an adolescent male (preferably staying in a college dorm)
  • You have to have a completely unrequited “thing”/”crush” on (preferably) a fellow female member of the student body. Extra credits if the said object of your affections is either completely unaware of your existence or more importantly, has been made aware of it and chose to violently demonstrate to you that you’re not in her league.

There was no recruitment drive, secret handshake or rite of passage. You kind of just moped around alone with that sad look in your eyes and other card carrying members found you. And then each of you went your separate ways, to mope some more.

So that bit of technicality aside, let’s now come down to the topic of this blog post – music. When I went to college in the last millennium, as a card carrying member of FOSLA, I naturally gravitated towards songs ( nay, not songs! Anthems!) that spoke to this particular facet of my life. These were the days before CDs, MP3s and iPods and thankfully, much later than vinyl LPs. I spent the 4 years of college (as my dormmates would attest readily) listening to the same 3 songs pretty much on a loop on my rickety yet trusty Cassette player.

November Rain by Guns and Roses
The first song was of course the grandest of all FOSLA anthems (with a kickass video that showed Slash doing his thing with an epic helicopter shot) – “November Rain” by “Guns and Roses”. This song “spoke” not only to me, but thousands of others in the same boat as me. It catered to the narcissistic tragic in every jilted lover. The basic lesson seemed to be “dump the broad and her memories, run on out to the prairie, straight into a bitchin’ guitar solo”. Hey, stop snickering! I even took guitar lessons after hearing this one – all four of them.

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
The second one was not quite in the FOSLA anthem league (in fact the appropriate one to like would’ve been Fat Bottomed Girls or I want to break freeor Crazy Little Thing called Love), but somehow “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen stayed with me. There was just something about it, that reached out from beyond the haze of tragic teenage angst. I know nothing about music, notes or tempo, but ever since the first time I heard it, I knew this song was unique. There’s just something about the way it ebbs and flows and twists and turns. The musical/vocal equivalent of watching a ballet performed by mixed martial artists in a last man standing melee.

Coming Back To Life by Pink Floyd
The last one is special. My memories of this one are kind of hazy (if you know what I mean 😉 ). I remember vaguely sitting on the ledge of the third floor balcony — looking out at the starry night, legs dangling into space, cigarette in hand and the cassette player blaring out “Coming Back To Life” by “Pink Floyd” at full volume from the room. This one spoke to me at a much more surreal level (granted that I was in a “susceptible” state of mind, but still…). This one I played over and over again, till the tape on my Division Bell cassette wore out. Then I got another one and another… finally I managed to find a CD after I had come over to USA in 2001 and now it resides proudly in my mp3 player’s most frequently played list.

I revisit these songs often. The FOSLA part maybe not so much, but they do remind me of a time in my life – when nothing made sense, yet it didn’t bother me. Scientists say that the neural pathways take some time to form and with age these pathways become permanent. So, till one goes senile, one’s state of being is kind of set in stone. These songs still remind me of a time, when .. ah, screw it. These were the songs that got me through college and these are the ones I still listen to after a really bad day.