By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….
The song “One Way Ticket to the Blues”, has got a special place in my life. There is more than one reason for me to like this song. But first of all I would like to mention something about this popular song.
This song was written by Jack Keller and Hank Hunter, way back during the 1950s. However, popular singer Neil Sedaka sang it at the end of the 1950s and included it in his record released in 1961. The song became quite popular in those days. A number of singers sang the same song, in almost the same tune. Most popular of them was “Eruption” group, who sang it during the 1970s.
For me, this song has got a totally different place in my memory. Way back in 1969, my father had sent me to learn to play drums. I went to the course for a couple of months. I had bought an old drum set, which I frequently played at home. However my relationship with that set of drums was very formal, as every time when I got a chance to play, the most that I could do was to play different drum beats that I had learnt. Foxtrot, Jerk, Cha Cha Cha, Waltz were a few that I can recall now. I never knew what I should do next.
The year was 1971, and we had shifted to a new area. I was a college student then. One Sunday morning I was passing through the lane next to ours, when I heard someone singing “One Way Ticket to the Blues”. I looked towards the house from where the voice was coming. There was a young boy standing at the balcony of first floor of the house. He was wearing glasses, playing the guitar and singing this song.
No need to say that I instantly made a direct contact with him. His name was WAQAR HASAN, and he too was a college student. He had learned to play the guitar, although he was an amateur, but I was much more amateur than him. I sat on his balcony for a short time, and he sang a couple of other songs for me. I do not remember the other songs he played then, however, it was the “One Way Ticket to the Blues,” which I liked the most.
The same day he visited us. I took out my drum set, and we tried to work on this particular song. As I have mentioned in my previous write-ups, I did not have any records or tape recorder. I had heard this song on the radio, but of course was not very clear about the way drums played and the rolls were done in the original song. But neither Waqar nor myself were much concerned about that.
We sat for a couple of hours, where he repeatedly sang the “One Way Ticket”, and I just tried to find some beat. The process was very complicated, he was trying to adjust the chords while playing the guitar, whereas I was trying to find some suitable beat to go along. After a long struggle, I managed to adjust the Jerk beat with the song. Waqar too succeeded in sorting out the guitar chords for rhythm.
In fact it took us a couple of days to be able to complete playing the song. I had adjusted some rolls that I knew in the song, which of course never had any connection or resemblance with the drum rolls in the original song. But that was not important for us. The most important thing was the satisfaction of being able to play a song. We were just two, so Waqar had to play both rhythm and lead of the song. There was no bass guitar. I always struggled to do something with my drums to keep the song going.
After a short period of time Iftikhar joined us. He had started singing. Later on Suhail also joined us with his electric lead guitar. He was also a good organ player. All four of us continued struggling in the field of music for years to come, but we could never raise our standard, as we were all busy with our studies and in professions later on. Playing music meant just a change for us. This change in fact used to be formulated by us once in a couple of months, at either my house or that of Suhail, and we also played at a number of family gatherings.
We four remained a musical group for many years, but neither did our standard improve, nor did we work to improve it. We loved it the way we were.
“One Way Ticket to The Blues”, remained our most favourite song, all through that period. It is the song that had laid the foundation of our music life. This is the song that we used to start with whenever we played. Even today, whenever I sit to listen to music, I start with “One Way Ticket”.
There are many songs that I like very much. There is a long list of such songs, but apart from all that, I have got a list of my specially liked songs, and this list has just one single song in it. Yes, that song is “One Way Ticket”.