I envy anyone who knows their pop from their rock from their jazz. I positively glow with jealousy whenever I hear someone say how they grew up listening to Joan Baez or Bob Dylan. Me, I have not a chance in hell when it comes to English music of any genre. I wouldn't know Bob Dylan if he fell on me and broke my neck (that I wouldn't be alive to recognise him as such is immaterial here). When I was young, only the seriously hip and the ones who had sold their soul to the devil listened to English music.
For a long time, the only pop musician I knew was Michael Jackson. Though I wasn't sure if he really sang in English as I could barely follow what little I heard of his songs. The husband recently told me that there were heated debates in his school over Jacko's gender. With over half of his class convinced that he was a woman!
Back then one of my uncles used to have LPs of Osibisa, ABBA and Boney M and he would play them on his record player and we would dance around feeling utterly cool. But once he got married and moved out, he took his player with him and we went back to listening to Sharon Prabhakar on Pop Time on Doordarshan. Some years later, we managed to get a few VHS tapes of Top of Pop shows recorded in Dubai. And I must have played until I knew every syllable by heart. During that time I felt, albeit briefly, invincible and absolutely on top of the charts.
Until one day a second cousin I had never met before landed from Delhi. My father, anxious to show off, told his niece that I listened to a lot of English music and encouraged her to talk to me about it. So, began this girl who couldn't have been more a than a couple of years my senior, what sort of music do you like? Pop? Rock? Metal? My jaw dropped. There were so many varieties of English music? How come no one ever told me about it? I decided to play it safe and told her instead that I listened to "just plain English songs". Fair to say that we didn't have much to say to each other the rest of the afternoon.