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Posts Tagged ‘rockstar’

Rock is Dead

In Artist, freelancing, Uncategorized on March 12, 2019 at 14:29

I used to think a band performing live was the coolest thing in the world. Four guys creating music with their bare hands. In cosmic unison. The crowd grooving to it in whichever way they feel right. And; of course, the four guys were best friends, for life. They didn’t have to deal with petty problems like career planning, house rent and hair loss. They were free in the truest sense. Not to mention the life-style and the groupies.

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Imitation is the most base form of flattery. And I wrote for a while, poems that I preferred to call songs and stories that I thought were the best things to be ever put on paper. I even struggled with guitar lessons that cost more than the guitar itself. If it wasn’t for the mercy of day dreams city life would numb the senses before they even had a chance to breathe. But day dreams are best short lived. I stretched mine way too long. My over-aged fingers stiff from typing and twiddling finally gave up. Rock itself died a rather painful death making way for more plastic bite-sized music in keeping with the times. And the bands that did survive had to do reality shows.
Years later, while hurtling through the usual minefield of misguided career moves and misplaced love I discovered stand-up – “Blues for people who can’t sing.”  It was perfect. No rules, no limits and you didn’t even need the three best friends on stage. The only rule – to be funny – could also be worked around. You either aim so low that laughs and forgetability become inevitable. Or aim so high that you can absolve yourself of not delivering. And the third option was plain old hard work. Most careers are a mixture of the three, tending towards one based on mood, belief-system and pressure to pay EMIs. Mine would be no different. The right side of market sentiment is often on the wrong side of history. Artists; of all people, should choose more wisely.
Having been both on stage and behind the scenes I now realize how much commerce pervades everything. The amount of bad tea and bad music the average person has to consume in his lifetime has got to be one of the biggest unspoken crimes of our generation. There must be more strawberry flavored gunk than actual strawberries in the world. Cheap imitations and second copies to the point where we can’t recognize good art even if it hits us in the face with a sledgehammer. It is also true that most artists do not know what they are chasing. Some childish idea of perfection protected by an array of delusions, egoism and border-line insanity. Many do come close but most die in obscurity.
All great stories have already been told and reveal themselves to the true seeker. But the passive consumer only gets to see what the doorkeepers and production houses deem saleable. Some of it is still good in the same way that fast food is still food. History only gets written in auditoriums and arenas after several handshakes and contract-signings. Most successful artists are therefore only good businessmen with a flair for words…or inheritance. Power structures are not in your hand but you own expression is. Always write for yourself first and the audience follows, if at all. Writers write for themselves, copy-writers write for the market.
And if you make it through the war-zone of show bookings, promotions, late payments, contracts, cliques, and constant self-doubt, you may have an outside chance at making history. And that by itself is more than worth the grind.
I still think a band performing live is the coolest thing in the world. But it is only the emotion that is to be chased, not the accessories. Rock is dead but revolution lives on.
– Punit Pania

What Does Success Look Like?

In Motivation on September 8, 2017 at 19:05

What does success look like? Is it the first promotion after you have finally paid off your student loan? Is it a neatly framed ending to a feel-good movie? Is it taking your parents out on the first ride in your new car as prescribed by television? Whichever version you buy, it seems short-lived. But failure has to be lived everyday. And nobody teaches you how to, not even your parents. The crushing reality of not having made it in the Rockstar way you had imagined all your life, the statistical improbability of it ever happening in the first place is never discussed. You either live in denial or keep trying just for the heck of it. Sometimes you know you are running into a brick wall but you still do it ‘coz a bump on the head is a better feeling than not having tried at all. But no one is kind enough to tell you that giving up is also a legit option. It’s a stale mate of overgrown kids refusing to believe that playtime is over. And if every Complain kid got to be an Astronaut, there would be a lot of depression in space.

Perhaps there really is no happily ever after. Life is a series of sequels that you can choose to make sense of or just sleepwalk through. Even the most celebrated personalities don’t experience Zen levels of pleasure. They are only humans, hangovers are real and they are not going to have unearthly zero-gravity sex. Life is short but orgasms are shorter. And there is always a bigger stadium to sell out, a bigger award to be earned and a bigger ego to be humoured. Disappointment eventually catches up with you in proportion to your batting average.

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Robin Sharma won’t tell you that coz selling slogans are so much easier. Why does it all have to be about a getting a bigger car and a bigger erection? Why don’t these great speakers talk about having greater civic sense and not being an asshole, those are the burning needs of the day.

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Appealing to base instincts is easier and can be mass-produced. Sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll for the few chosen poster boys and the hamster wheel for everyone else. A cosmic lottery where you either succeed in the most vulgar and opulent way possible or die in regimented obscurity. There is no third option for truly enlightened folk who do not have the right mix of narcissism, loose morals and good fortune to succeed on a cinematic scale. We are so enamored by the popular idea of success that we let celebrities get away with anything including murder, or worse. Of course, in many cases it is also political and financial clout that keeps them out of jail. But we shower far too much sympathy on them failing to discern that what we see on screen is a hollow projection of a very real very mortal person on earth who is furthermore a different person from his driver.
Cinematic success is exactly that, a few frames of escapism to gloss over reels of hard truth.

And it has us yearning with every breathing moment, struggling, scratching and slogging our working class asses off to buy these pre-digested packages of success off the shelf. Engineering-MS-Green card, IIT-IIM-Paperback novel. And then re-innforcinng through graduation batch WhatsApp groups and LinkedIn updates that we all made an equally good or equally bad decision.

You were born into a particular family, hometown, peer group and their collective pathos, you don’t have to die with them. If on a given day the number of activities you like to do outnumbers the number of activities you need to do, isn’t that success enough? The greatest success can be as simple as not having to wake up to an alarm in the morning. Screw your happy endings and bury your peer group in a shallow grave and never look back.

  • Punit Pania