I also mean it in the standard-narrative-of-India kind of sense, one that traces and acknowledges its vast multi-religious-ethnic-linguistic diversity, its British Imperial past, fraught stories about Partition, its modern democratic experiment, and the problems that emerge in forging a cohesive national narrative.But most importantly, India is fascinating in the unique ways amalgamates homegrown and foreign cultural references to devise a rare vocabulary of popular culture. To put things simply, after spending five months in thirteen different Indian states, I listened to “Rhinestone Cowboy” and David Nail more times than I’ve had the pleasure to in the American South. I could try to attribute this to the pervasive influence of American culture globally or say a thing or two about cultural imperialism. However, that would provide an unsatisfactory explanation for the myriad, MYRIAD, of instances I heard Glen Campbell’s shrill twang blasting from several sound systems.
As a result of my unlikely (uncanny, perhaps) musical experience in India, I have curated a list of the top ten songs you are most likely to hear when finding yourself in the Subcontinent. This aural survey is purely based on empirical data and representative of the fact that “Rhinestone Cowboy” is forever imprinted in my memory.