He's a bit of a legend in the North East and is celebrating 50 years of his music today. But almost an equal number of years ago Lou Majaw, widely recognised for his Bob Dylan tribute shows, was busy cleaning cars at a gas station on Kolkata's frenetic Park Circus-Karaya road crossing.
That's on days when he wasn't carrying heavy goods to and from various establishments in central Kolkata. He spent his evenings though, at some of the most popular bar-restaurants of Park Street in Calcutta- armed with a guitar, strumming up a storm to an enthusiastic crowd of old school live-music patrons.
"I was asked how I felt about my work as a labourer but I always said I felt no shame or embarrassment. 'I'm doing my job, yeah? I respect it', is what I said," says Majaw with a drawl.
Majaw's respect for Bob Dylan is equally well established. From 1972 onwards, he has been organising an annual concert to commemorate Dylan's birthday in Shillong. That's a hardcore fan right there!
"I was always captivated by his music," he says. Recalling the first time he heard Dylan, Majaw says, "It was at Moulin Rouge in Calcutta. We listened to the usual suspects: Elvis, Cliff Richards, Bill Hailey, The Beatles.
But one day an Anglo-Indian friend of ours got a big stack of records and played it." Perhaps a bit predictably, the first track happened to be Blowin' In The Wind from Dylan's 1963-released album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
"Who the hell is that?" says Majaw, when asked what his initial reaction was to the song. It wasn't so much the voice as it was the poetry that laced his lyrics, says Majaw.
What's next for Lou Majaw at the ripe age of 68 when he is, as the cliche goes, been there done that already?
Majaw is quick to retort: "I'd like to correct that. For me it's not been there done that, like most people and the media say. It's been there done that... still doing it, always will."
From HT Brunch, May 24
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