By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….
“When I was young I’d listen to the radio
Waiting for my favourite songs
When they played I’d sing along, it made me smile”
The above Carpenters song of the 1960s speaks of that phase of my life when I was entering the field of music, way back in 1969-70. I was just 14 years old. Bubbling with enthusiasm and adventurism.
As I had mentioned in my previous write ups too, one fine day I had found myself all of a sudden learning to play drums. It did not take much time for a couple of other music loving friends of mine to form a very amateur sort of musical group.
Coming back to the above song, whenever I listen to it, I find myself back in those days, when I was struggling to listen to English songs and to work on drum beats accordingly.
Those days were very different from present times. Those were the days when even tape recorders were not common in Karachi, Pakistan, where we were living. We did not have either a record player or tape recorder in our house. The cassette recorders were not even invented then. CDs, Videos etc were not even heard of, because they were yet invented. For me radio was the only source to listen to music.
Radio Pakistan in those days used to carry out two half hour each sessions of English music daily. One was from 1.30 to 2 pm, and the other was from 10.30pm to 11pm at night. So those were the only times when I could listen to English pop songs. There were no chances to go for a repetition of any song, or for slow motion or separation of sounds of one instrument from others. Rather, I was never sure that one song that I listened to would be on air again, which day and what time.
So I had had to be very quick. Not just quick but very very quick in catching the tune of most, if not all, of the songs on air. Not only just that, I had had to listen carefully to find out the drum beat played in it. Frequently, by the time I could manage to keep in mind the tune of a given song, I would be missing the drum beat.
Frequently, it was very difficult to pick up the words of the songs. Though I was not a singer, but still knowledge of words of the songs used to help me in reformatting the tune, sounds of various instruments and the drum beats in my mind. Indeed it was very difficult to pick up all of this in one go, instantly when the song was being played on the radio.
We were three friends in the beginning. Unfortunately all of us were very busy with our studies, and music was very much in the background, to be played mostly during our holidays. We were not even in the same school, so it was not very common to come together on a daily basis.
But it was not just me, who used to go through the strenuous exercises of sorting out the tune, instrumentation, words and drum beats of the songs, Iftikhar and Waqar, the other two friends, also used to go through the same process. Of course, our guitarist Waqar used to concentrate more on the guitar chords and words. Iftikhar, our main singer, was more talented than us, since he had to learn the words and tunes of the songs, but he was the one who was supposed to keep all of us going. Frequently, while singing any song on stage, he had to turn back to tell Waqar that he had picked up a wrong chord, or to me, if I mis-timed a roll on the drums.
Iftikhar was really talented to manage concealing our mistakes while playing.
Indeed it was not easy. Thus all three of us ended up having in hand some popular songs of that period which we could play. Simply (particularly myself) we were not playing any other song at all, other than those which we had managed to learn to sing and play.
Here under is the list of some of the English songs that we used to play in those days.
ONE WAY TICKET….by Neil Sedaka
RASPUTIN …. by Boney M
THOSE WERE THE DAYS……by Mary Hopkin
SEASONS IN THE SUN…..by Terry Jacks
LET IT BE……by The Beatles
BROWN GIRL IN THE RING…..by Boney M
BLACK MAGIC WOMAN…..Santana
HANDS UP, BABY HANDS UP ….by OTTAWAN
However the fact was, that we never had serious practicing sessions. In fact once in a couple of months, we would play at some family gatherings or school functions etc. That stage performance by us used to be our practicing session, because we were never available to carry on the regular practice.
So as is obvious, we used to play RASPUTIN and BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, without their famous drum rolls or guitar. We had learned to work out a softer version of every song. For me as drummer, it was sufficient to pick up the drum beat and continue with that, ignoring the rolling completely, when I found it impossible to do it properly. I had invented rolls according to my own capabilities and to adjust them in any song. Of course it was not just me alone who had been doing this. Both Waqar and Iftikhar, also used to sing songs by filling blanks of the lyrics, or guitar chords.
Of course this was all that we could do, in those days.
This is why I say that “those were the days” when “I used to listen to the radio waiting for my favourite song”
Hereunder are the wordings of my favourite song, which connects my past with my present
YESTERDAY ONCE MORE
By THE CARPENTERS
When I was young I’d listen to the radio
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along, it made me smile
Those were such happy times and not so long ago
How I wondered where they’d gone
But they’re back again just like a long lost friend
All the songs I loved so well
Every wo-o-wo-o, still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling, that they’re startin’ to sing’s, so fine
When they get to the part
Where he’s breakin’ her heart
It can really make me cry, just like before
It’s yesterday once more
Lookin’ back on how it was in years gone by
And the good times that I had
Makes today seem rather sad, so much has changed.
It was songs of love that I would sing to then
And I’d memorize each word