# Love For The Common People
The first significant publication on music outlines its role in enabling social change and impact. Music remains a key factor in integrating art and culture within civilizations, enabling a systemic social change and impact in the global ecosystem. The publication is, at best, an attempt to understand how various facets of music facilitate social change and impact within civic societies. Written from my lens (Nishant Malhotra, the central actor in this drama), it’s not an authoritative read on the music industry but a way to comprehend society’s role. The read is written as flashbacks from my life with alterations to suit the storyline. If anyone claims that a publication can share a defining part of music among us, the person is either deluded or high, proud to mention I am not among both of these categories. The purpose of the extensive read is to share a holistic overview of music in our lives without deep diving into negative facets that govern selected genres of music. Rock music is a significant part of this series. This piece attempts to highlight other genres within the music industry. The period prominently covered is from the late 70s to late 90s and early 2000. The series will touch on artists like Joan Jett, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Phil Collins, Prince, Guns N Roses, Prodigy, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Creed, Van Halen, Khaled, Queen, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Run DMC, Deep Purple, Beatles, Van Halen, Shania Twain, REM, Bangles, Blondie, The Verve, ABBA, Boney M, Garth Brooks, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Arrested Development, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Ugly Kid Joe, Megadeth, Pink Floyd, Alanis Morissette, AC DC, Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Sheryl Crow among others. There are notable exceptions. Since time immemorial, music through its multiple facets has profoundly influenced our idiosyncrasies which plays a defining role in formulating our identity. Whether fighting battles wherein songs are sung to boost motivation and patriotism to the use of sound effects as background music among movies to attenuate the impact of the storyline on the audience, music has many lives many perceptions. Over the years, music has taken multiple avatars that range from making a statement of revolt against institutions or religious traditions to defining associations within civic societies to as simple as finding solace within the depths of lyrical exuberance. Music has a euphoric influence in shaping our preference for the collective good. The series begins with a focus on Rock music and selected subgenres within Rock music. Experts credit the birth of rock music to be around the 40s and 50s in the United States of America with influences of different types of music like blues, gospels, soul, etc. Rock music has many subgenres, with a publication categorizing 100 other subgenres. Still, for the sake of simplicity, The Middle Road classifies Rock Music broadly into Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Grunge/ Seattle Sound, Progressive Rock, Punk Rock, Blues Rock, Heavy Metal, and Psychedelic Rock. Many would rank AC DC and Guns N Roses under the hard rock category with Phil Collins under Soft Rock. However, for this read, we will ignore this classification. Much emphasis is given to simple Rock (Rock N Roll), Alternative Rock, Grunge/Seattle Sound, Progressive Rock, and Heavy metal. For the love of common people (Paul Young song), life is a celebration of love and warmth. Music encapsulates this aspect. Many publications categorize Grunge under Alternative Rock but look at musical variations between U2, REM, The Verve, etc., and Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. (backed by authoritative sources), Seattle Sound/ Grunge is categorized as a separate subgenre. This feature introduces Crossover Rock, a term invented by The middle Road for a subgenre among the rock music dedicated to songs that appeal to people across genres. Examples Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams, Purple Rain by Prince, The Unforgiven by Metallica, Hotel California by Eagles.
Image: Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington | The middle Road
# Counterculture & Woodstock – Firestarter Nirvana
Over the past century, the music worked as a Firestarter “trouble starter, punkin’ instigator,” words from the Prodigy song (headbanging), enabling a social change and thought process among civic societies. Tired of established rules and misplaced government policies, music, especially Rock, became the focal point in uniting enablers in ideology for social impact. Woodstock Rock Festival became akin to a reconnaissance movement, an awakening imbibing comradeship, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Smells Like Teen Spirit exemplifies a rage, a rebel within all of us. As we age, our preference for music changes our underlying uneasiness.
A group of people from Armed forces background, we were sitting in nature and chatting about music. The conversation turned to Grunge music and the influence of MTV in our generation. As the conversation continued the discussion shifted to Nirvana. As our conversation got more boisterous, my friend removed his wallet and took out Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. I knew Kurt Cobain stood like a giant within the musical era of our generation but such deep immortalization sent home an indelible message, the influence of music governing our lives. Kurt Cobain. a frontrunner of the Seattle Sound movement, a contemporary of Pearl Jam “Jeremy” fame and Soundgarden, tragic death highlights the dangers of the dependence of substance abuse as a measure of correction for traumatic experiences. His death still remains controversial and the verdict whether Kurt committed suicide is open for millions of his fans. The Man Who Sold the World his ideology epitomises and remains the face of counterculture revolution. Kurt Cobain, blessed by nature with odes of talent and infectious boyish innocent charm, remains a troubled hero, beset by traumatic childhood driving him to be a Rebel with a Cause. Kurt never lived to his full promise like James Dean however left a legacy akin to James. Kurt’s story frontlines one of the issues facing America, troubled childhood driven by vicissitudes of broken family life, an issue that plagued Gen X more than Millennials. The middle Road declares Kurt Cobain as the symbol of Counterculture.
Runaway Train, a power ballad (a category showcasing emotive triumph example, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin) by Soul Asylum, hits the core of this issue. The song won the Grammy award for the best rock song in 1994. According to David Pirner, lead singer of the group, the song is a derivative of his experience with depression. Still, its melodious soulful outcry goes to the very heart of the focal point of issues that diminished teens of the 90s, especially in America. We will look into this insight that lyrics are relative; Human Touch relatively drives music as we go forward. Eddie Vedder and Bono stand out for their music and philanthropic work. Eddie (Pearl Jam’s) front man is rooted in reality and simplicity (Even Flow), an outlier and enabler within the music industry. Retired is the highest honor given in a category either to people or to a work of art with sublime value or quality with far outreaching impact for the better within the social ecosystem.
Woodstock Rock Festival started a movement that led to effects both for good and bad. Elvis Presley and the Beatles might have changed the culture of generations of people, but it’s Woodstock festival which set the ball rolling as a platform for counterculture movement. As music spread out its various facets, music became a tool for reaching the higher conscious level, a misgiving which would lead to mixing of music, sex, and substance abuse with spiritualism. Multiple manifestations lead to connotations of ideas leading to divergence in critical thinking. Music has long served the purpose of catalyzing imagination or a vehicle to forget the present. And yet, the greatest pieces of art including music are the best evidence of mindfulness at work. The rise of counterculture led to a mystical genesis for the music industry enabling music mainstream as the Woodstock Rock spread across western civilization with far-reaching consequences globally. Country music, rap, jazz, pop, hip hop became a platform for uniting people with a common purpose. Music facilitates identities worldwide, a common language for people to connect across nationalities, religions, and dogmas. Music played a critical platform in empowering women. Among all the genres, Rock N Roll reigned supreme as the first universal force globally not to undermine Pop that reached its Zenith under King of Pop “Michael Jackson”. I love Rock N Roll.
Image: Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington | The middle Road
Video shot at Pittsburgh festival | The middle Road
I Love Rock N Roll — Joan Jett to MTV
Joan Jett, recognized as an enabler by The middle Road, stands out as an outlier within the Rock genre. Her rise esp. within the Rock genre, once dominated by men, with super vocals, song writing, and guitaring skills, paved the way for many aspiring women artists. If Taylor Swift riffs inspire women to learn guitar, it’s Joan Jett who plays an enormous role in enabling pathways for women as a powerhouse force in rock music. Live about publication ranks Joan Jett among the most influential women in rock music culture and great Pat Benatar, Janis Joplin, and Suzi Quatro. Joan rose from the all-girl band group The Runaways to her breakout band, The Blackhearts, cementing her legacy with the first album, I Love Rock N Roll, which includes one of the all-time favourites, I Hate Myself for Loving You. Talented and multidimensional, Joan personifies flamboyance and infectious charm along with excellent guitar skills to elevate thousands of fans to rhythms making music deliciously delightful. Joan Jett stood out among the pantheons of other outliers of her time and was rated by The middle Road as the iconic female artist.
A mischievous student and prankster, I was fooling around during a class break in the Army public school in New Delhi. Those were the good old days, Army Public School, New Delhi, nicknamed as APS during my time (short for TAPS) and by far one of the greatest educational institutions in India. TAPS is remarkable for some of the most well-rounded students of my generation. On a Manic Monday, one of the students was mimicking dance steps from the superhit song Walk like an Egyptian by The Bangles while everyone cheered. As I think back in time, this episode facilitates an understanding of the impact of music on teens and its defining role in shaping the future whether for good and bad. The Bangles, an all-out girl classified under pop-rock band (Rock), most delightful song is Manic Monday. Manic Monday written by the Prince makes you realize the interconnectedness of the music world. The Bangles and Blondie influence in Rock is immense.
# MTV: Shockwave and World Music
The influence of MTV was most prominent among the 90s generation when India liberalized significantly among teens. Cable television with 24 hours of coverage led to a systemic shift overnight. MTV personified western culture. Tv and media laid pathways in understanding more about the culture-defining touchpoints with commonalities with global communities, best felt before through foreign films example, Hollywood or Hong Kong. MTV created an overnight cultural shock, kickstarting social change within the society. With music videos beaming round the clock hosted by a new wave of anchors, the era of celebrities no longer remained the bastion of Hollywood celebrities or Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. MTV brought in a new wave of thought among the younger generation leading to cultural fads symbolizing an artistic flair and connectivity. Music became one of the focal points of friendship, including talking points for dates that, in many cases, lead to relationships and marriages. MTV became a leveller energizing people on the latest global styles laying down a stream of new cultural icons. MTV showcased artists from around the world, catalyzing liquidity within the artistic community in India. Suddenly new avenues for commercializing talent bounded by a stagnant and moribund creative landscape brought in a fresh surge of creativity. This creativity bred musical vigor quickly, not seen in many emerging countries. As MTV fed music across genres plating many artists, Khaled emerged as a winner with the song Didi.
Sung by Khaled in Arabic, the song was a huge hit in Europe and entered history books as one of the songs to be played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Catchy lyrics backed by a classy musical video directed by Philippe Gautier, Khaled became a global household name. However, the joke in India was whether it made sense to dance to the song with your girlfriend or wife–Didi in Indian vernacular means sister, but the song’s popularity permeated Indian ethos and still remains a regular at parties in India.
# Sunday Bloody Sunday U2 Its Bitter Sweet Symphony
I entered Jaws, (not to be confused with the movie) a melting point in Pune, known for its burgers. It was sweltering Sunday Bloody Sunday afternoon. As I entered the place, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For was blasting out loud in the background as everyone was chilling over burgers and beverages. This was the time when U2 music was making waves, Jon Bon Jovi, Axl Rose, and Slash were the talk of the town. I was zapped and needed a diet coke. Sitting right across the counter was one of the most stunning girls I had met in Pune. I thought I had found what I was looking for until her boyfriend turned up who was twice my size. Time to Run. Born to Run. As thoughts fly back, Memory Remains. Start humming La Bamba. Great song! The influence of music among all of us is undeniable. Remembering the time, how music bridged corners and brought people from various backgrounds on a single platform. U2 changed the dynamics of music with The Joshua Tree bringing a style of music synthesising punk, electronic, and other forms into riveting music that appeals to the audience from multiple genres and subgenres within Rock Music. The middle Road credits U2 as one of the best Crossover rock groups of the 80s and 90s , whose music appeals to fans who hear heavy metal, rock, and progressive rock to Pop, Country music, etc. U2, the Irish group is also the face of philanthropy with the RED project, a social impact project focused on eradicating AIDS.
Crossover Music songs are instrumental in shifting the fan base of a particular genre from either one subgenre to another or across genres. For me, it was Enter Sandman that shifted me from a rock fan to delve deeper into heavy metal. Metallica would lead me to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and ultimately lead to Megadeth. Death metal like Panthera and Sepultura never grew on me but the journey took me to Nativity in Black whether Black or White, Nativity in Black rules. A tribute to Black Sabbath, Nativity in Black remains one of the greatest albums in the heavy metal subgenre, or dare say within Rock music. The album includes various artists including Ugly Kid Joe (America’s Least Wanted album fame) with superhit song Cats in the Cradle. The middle Road rates this Cats in the Cradle version as one of the best rock numbers of all time. Van Halen’s Jump is a great example of a Crossover Rock song although its features legendary guitaring, personifying commercial rock number with a focus on rhythm. Crossover Rock numbers would usually not include lyrical intensity rather sung to amplify joyfulness. Selected numbers from Def Leppard would fall into this category. Love is a bad medicine by Bon Jovi, Under Pressure by Queen, and AC DC You shook me long are excellent examples of crossover rock numbers likely to swing the music appetite of Pop or Country music aficionados.
Image U2 Source; U2.com
Rock Music can never be complete without the mention of Bon Jovi. It’s for a couple of reasons. The nice guy from the Rock music known for cowboy rodeo songs is one of the few Rockstar’s known for his steadfast lifestyle. One of the most handsome guys from the music industry, he is a devout father with a long-lasting happy marriage. When asked about the secret of his marriage, Jon Bon Jovi mentioned it to mutual respect. Jon married his sweetheart from school days, a key observation for long-lasting marriages, the very best from the United States. The middle Road endorses as a role model and enabler and hails him the counterpart of Keanu Reeves from Hollywood. It’s no wonder one of the best rock love songs Lay you down on a Bed of Roses is from Jon. Other rock love ballads highly rated by The middle Road include I can do anything for love by Meat Loaf, Everything I do by Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen Secret Garden, November Rain Gun N Roses.
Coming to Hollywood, Robert Downey Jr is one of the first enablers rated by The middle Road. Known for the boy next door charisma, impeccable talent, Robert Downey is known for showmanship, a quality highly rated by The middle Road platform. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest comebacks in Hollywood history that will make Aerosmith proud, Robert practices Wing Chun martial arts, and credits Wing Chun for its mindfulness technique to come out of substance addiction, a true natural born killer attitude. Robert is also a Van Halen fan. R.E.M, The Verve are other groups who led the alternative rock bandwagon. R.E.M’s Losing my religion is still a very popular and regular song across pubs in India yet its Man on the Moon with its soft, soulful music touched an indelible cord “If you believed they put a man on the moon Man on the moon If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve Then nothing is cool.” Fascination between humanity and space is eternal. The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony might be plagued in controversy but its rated one of the most defining songs coming out of Britpop, the British version of upbeat alternative rock. The music video of Bittersweet Symphony inspired parodies perhaps taking British famous penchant for humour to new levels. The middle Road categorises Bittersweet Symphony as one of the best Crossover numbers and closely associated with Progressive rock for its artful work. Coming to British Rock, Radiohead’s Creep is another epic song, immortalised by Stephen Dorff in a movie. (OST)
# Tribute to Humanity- Lightening Crashes
Lightning Crashes by Live, an epic number is rated by The middle Road as one of the greatest tributes from the Rock world to humanity. The song is a metaphor for duality in nature- dichotomy between life and death. The middle Road philosophical take: The song alludes to the impermanence within our lives. Angel closes her eyes means the death or end of consciousness and open her eyes means “birth or simultaneous genesis of consciousness”. The circle of birth and death, both facets of an everlasting cosmic reality. Angel closes her eyes as a mark of respect for the old lady. The angel opens her eyes signifies positivity. This alludes to the struggles of life, the anxiety, restlessness, happiness now is ending for the old lady at the same time begins for the new born. The rest of the song is a celebration of life, energized, raring to go all out.
“Pale blue colored iris, presents the circle, And puts the glory out to hide, hide” presents the circle means the circle of life and death. “The confusion that was hers Belongs now, to the baby down the hall”
# My Sacrifice to Metal- Metallica & Megadeth
Tired of regular travel around the eastern region of India, I sighed a wave of relief as I sunk in the chair car of the train and put on earphones. I looked forward to hearing My Sacrifice the umpteenth time. Haunting lyrics, the song glorifies true friendship. Although the lyrics of the song “Cause when you are with me, I’m free I’m careless, I believe Above all the others we’ll fly, This brings tears to my eyes” might be construed for true love, the song touches an empathic cord of togetherness and friendship. Songs broadly fall it two categories: one that makes you upbeat and dance and second, those which have a more measurable impact through their lyrics and music. Songs that build on lyrics have a more profound impact connecting both at a conscious and subconscious level. Music has permeated down since ancient times. Bards usually poets are known to exist as early as 1 century AD. In ancient times, generations passed on mythological stories through lyrical compositions before the paper was invented. Songs play a key role in the success of movies in Bollywood complementing storylines. In the golden age of Bollywood, songs could pull in crowds into theatres critical for its box office success.
Rock music led to the genesis of metal and, alternative rock, Grunge as significant subgenres. Grunge relies on angst lyrics and high sound distortions closely associated with the counterculture, while metal focussed more on domination themes. Both the genres rely on electric and bass guitar, drums and vocals; Grunge is generally focussed on lyrics targeting youth while metal relies more on sound. Nirvana, Pearl Jam numbers especially Smells Like Teen Spirit, Jeremy exemplifies these aspects. But there are overlaps. Megadeth’s song A Tout Le Monde, one of their better songs, was banned by MTV for lyrics seen encouraging suicide, yet in the words of Dave Mustaine it’s not a suicide song. Kurt Cobain correctly mentioned never reading too much into lyrics of musicians. Lyrics are very subjective, a fleeting touch based on the fluidity of emotions making songs based on abstract and overarching themes or personal feelings open to different interpretations. Songs within the subgenre of heavy metal, Grunge, hard rock, or progressive rock are excellent examples of this category. Dave Mustaine, co-founder of Megadeth, would be the common thread between two best-known groups with heavy metal – The mighty Metallica and fluid Megadeth. Another way to look at the metal genre would be glorifying intense emotions, loud music, and screaming vocals. Black Sabbath invented metal with Ozzy Osbourne playing a decisive role; The middle Road takes a middle-of-the-road view to focus on two groups – Metallica and Megadeth contemporaries of each other in the thrash metal category. Both these groups hugely influenced the 80s and 90s generation and Iron Maiden. If death metal did not grow on me, Nativity in Black, whether Black or White, Nativity in Black rules. A tribute to Black Sabbath, Nativity in Black remains one of the greatest albums in the metal genre or rock music. Ugly Kid Joe (America’s Least Wanted), famous for his breakout number Cats in the Cradle, remains the best version of this number.
The middle Road rates Purple Rain by Prince, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, and Phil Collins. I wish It would rain down as the three best rock classics When Doves Cry joins the group. The songs are rated on their merit of sentimental value and excellent vocals. Prince’s Super Bowl performance stood out for its panache and showmanship. Billy Joel’s We Didn’t start the fire song and video are among the top five most impactful acts of the 80s. The Billy Joel single released in 1989 became no. 1 in the US, making him a household name among many in India.
Guns N Roses one of the greatest rock groups of all time with hits like Patience, Sweet Child of Mine, November Rain, Paradise City, Estranged remains a colossal enabler worldwide. Paradise City remains one of their true hard rock number, Don’t Cry as a crossover song. Few rock groups have dominated the Rock music like Guns N Roses and its breakup due to ego clashes between the mercurial yet brilliant front man vocalist Axl and top gun guitarist Slash ended an era of golden age of commercial rock. Other facets of Rock music evolved with Linkin Park and Goo Goo Dolls emerging as major rock groups. Imagine a life without the best of rock music. Ending with Radiohead’s Creep, a song immortalized by Stephen Dorff in a movie. OST
# Rock At Its Best – Comfortably Numb
Rock music has taken many manifestations over time. From the creme de la creme progressive/ sophisticated/art rock group Pink Floyd to rock groups Deep Purple and Dire Straits, the British played a significant role in enabling social change during the era covered. From Comfortably Numb to Smoke on the Water to Sultans of Swing, these two groups created some of the best riffs. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) both are among the greatest guitarists of all time.
Image Left, the cover of The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the greatest artworks for a music cover of all time.
The middle Road ranks Pink Floyd as the most influential rock group of all time with classics like Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb- one of the the greatest rock songs of all time. However, it is Another Brick in the Wall, written to exemplify the wall between Pink Floyd and its fans, stands as a symbol of counter culture, a metaphor for Maverick attitude with flawless fluidity personifying restlessness for good. The impact that this song created is unfathomable and unsurpassable. Although the core circular theme of The middle Road is education, the lyrics of the song “We don’t need no education, We don’t need no thought control” are taken as a beacon of sharing all perspectives with the audience. The middle Road ranks Another Brick in the Wall as the most influential song across any genre. Pink Floyd’s concerts were the best in the line in terms of usage of visual and other effects making Pink Floyd untouchable as a Rock music group. So what’s education?
(Left pic: Source Wikipedia) | The cover of The Dark Side of the Moon
Mark Knopfler influenced Joe Perry of Aerosmith fame, who influenced Slash of Gun N Roses. (Citation needed). Under the showmanship of Steven Tyler, Aerosmith became one of the top commercial Rock groups. With hits like I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing and Janie’s got a gun, Aerosmith’s music videos are catchy and classy, adding to its rock appeal. Aerosmith made stunning Alicia Silverstone (Cryin), a teen heartthrob, a household name globally. A quintessential blonde bombshell, Alicia would crossover to movies including Batman playing the coveted Batgirl, popularising the girl next door appeal for a superhero. The Aerosmith song’s Walk This Way Run DMC version is pivotal in rock history. The middle Road ranks Walk This Walk with Run-D.M.C as the breakout number. One of the first fusing hard rock and hip hop, the song is a gamechanger in defining or kickstarting the rap-rock genre.
Philanthropy is at the heart of many musicians. Bob Geldof stood out as a role model through its Band-Aid program, cofounded with Midge Ure. Originally started to help famine victims in Ethiopia, Band-Aid has seen multiple avatars for charitable purposes. Bono, U2 magic man and Bobby Shriver started the RED movement, a holistic mission to end AIDS. RED partners with organizations and mission proceeds ~$650 million are donated to Global Fund to fight two pandemics, AIDS and COVID-19. Through the Vitalogy Foundation, Pearl Jam is enabling giving across multiple sectors, smashing Pumpkins are doing their good. Taylor Swift, Elton John, Rihanna, Beyonce, Gary Brooks rank the top five givers by Money Inc. Concerts remains one of the most significant enablers for charity tying up with global organizations like Oxfam.
I was visiting Pittsburgh, and as I walked down to downtown Pittsburgh, I was captivated by the city’s elegant beauty built around magnificent universities. I walked right into a world-class music and art festival, just like in the movies and biblical. The festive as a background would be covered in all publications in the trilogy. Leave you with a hip-hop dance video captured at the venue. It was exactly as I had pictured America in my dreams. Hip Hop reminds me of Arrested Development. Ah Ah, Tennessee is coming to Nashville, the world’s music capital. Leave you with a groovy Hip Hop song. Have a good one.
Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan, Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan.
The middle Road is Nishant Malhotra. Founder of for-profit social impact startup Middle Road (One Person Company) Pvt Ltd, the venture has interests in publishing, e-learning, and consulting. The publication does not claim to be authoritative or a subject matter expert within the music category. The read, structured as a storyline with Nishant as a protagonist, embeds flashbacks on key milestones or experiences within the Rock music industry. Written with a philosophical approach; the read is a recount of personal experiences, their impact on the protagonist, and within the society. The author (Nishant Malhotra) has refereed other publications to make sure the genre or subgenre is correct, however a song would be at home across multiple genres esp. interchangeably with Pop. Although the incidents of flashbacks are most likely correct, the author has taken liberties to change the script or deliberately include names of famous songs within the script. For example, the incident of Jaws might not have occurred on a Sunday afternoon. Further, the girl in question might be from another experience but her presence within the script adds humor and liveliness to the story. Feel free to reach out to email@example.com for any queries. The movie Forrest Gump loosely inspires this style of writing. The middle Road rates Tom Hanks as an enabler for his inspiring performances.