After two and a half months in India—cold, crowded India—I really ‘wanna feel real nice.’ But how? Feeling nice hasn’t been a priority for decades. How does one, at a certain age, go about it? As I pondered my dilemma, a familiar, albeit rusty, recklessness enticed me to dig a little deeper for ideas, which was how I found myself dredging up images captured by the teenage sensualist I once was (can you grow out of it, do you think? or does it just trickle away with your hormones?) of a cornucopia of hedonistic pursuits, played out against a surprisingly eclectic musical backdrop.
Truth to tell, it all started on the train down from Chakki Bank to Delhi. I had no choice. It was either distract my mind or commit murder, and I opted for the former as a way of drowning out (with, in this case, the blues… mostly) the wheeler dealer in the opposite bunk, who owned the longest lasting mobile phone battery every invented. Anyway, somewhere between Freddie King’s Ain’t No Sunshine and BB King’s The Thrill is Gone, I established, for the record, that it’s more than twenty-five years since I gave away my blistering record collection, and with this single act of penitential self-denial, I effectively deleted a large chunk of early 70s atmosphere from my life.
Little Feat, for example, and the beautiful Lowell George.
So, after the requisite ten days of feeling like a lump of shit and proclaiming my state of mind (and body) loudly, and in no uncertain terms, at all hours of the day and night—my husband self-medicates at such times, and very effectively, with Guiness—I did some research. Did you know that Lowell died in 1979? That particular tragedy passed me by completely—a year into music college and Little Feat was already passé! What was I thinking?
You’ll find Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor below, which I think is my favourite of their songs, but it was the very first chord of Dixie Chicken (thankyou youtube) that whisked me back to a damp and rather nasty terraced house somewhere off the West Wycombe Road. I can still replay in slow-motion the moment our very stoned tortoiseshell cat toppled over sideways, like a falling statue (second-hand smoke… I’ve mentioned it before, methinks), and am aghast when I think of the hours and hours ten of us spent squashed up together on stinky armchairs in a ten foot by twelve foot back room, with a pile of the ‘latest’ albums that we listened to from cover to cover (so to speak), full blast, on a state of the art ‘music centre,’ without saying a word until stylus left vinyl. The only time the inescapable fug of ‘black,’ ‘lebonese,’ or Pete’s home grown pot pourri was allowed to disipate, was when the Pakistani landlord made his weekly visit to collect the rent (cash only). My memory has edited out the bathroom, for which I am grateful, but I can still see the 1930s kitchen sink, alive and putrid, which I doubt human hand ever emerged from untainted.
My long-haired boyfriend at that time (21 to my 16-ish and as far as my memory is concerned he looked like a ‘man’ rather than the boy he must have been) was a big fan of Little Feat and Steely Dan, the Doors, Cream, Alex Harvey (the Sensational…), Velvet Underground, etc. The small of my back still tingles when I hear any of that music, my tongue tastes vodka and lime and Walker’s barbecue crips, and of course, my nose registers every one of a variety of competing aromas. Hmmmnnnnn….
By the way, my three month PAP, the permit to stay in Bir that I applied for last September, arrived and was given to me in the taxi on the way back down to Delhi… a sign, I think, that one should never give up hope about anything.