Minsan sa may Kalayaan, sila ay nagkatagpuan. However, I had my first encounter with them when I borrowed a friend’s tape which says “Eraserheads: Ultraelectromagneticpop”.
Cassette was king back then and I remember acting as if I had a gold bar in my hand. I popped in the tape onto the player and I was taken through musical magic. Frankly, it’s not the most technically-challenging chord patterns that I’ve heard but these tunes are hard to shake off from one’s head. In fact, I still know most of the lyrics two decades after.
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May mga sariling gimik at kanya-kanyang hangad sa buhay. Never have I seen so much talent and personality collected in one group. Ely Buendia had a certain flair with the microphone that none of his contemporaries can emulate. Buddy Zabala sets the groove in perfect rhythm with his bass. Marcus Adoro was laid back but powerful on the leads. Raimund Marasigan pounded the drums with such fervor and unbridled artistry.
They had their own styles (and dreams perhaps). But when they played together, they gave birth to songs that are embedded into my generation’s soundtrack. They tackle topics that are dear to their audience and deliver it through riffs, rhymes, and rolls.
Sana’y huwag kalimutan, ang ating mga pinagsamahan. Boy, did they remind me of the good ol’ times when they had two reunion concerts. Yes, I was one with the Eraserheads nation in prayer when Ely was rushed to the hospital. But just like legends, they gave one more set for the ages. As I was singing with the band and gradually being covered with sweat, it took me back to the time when I would do anything (borrow money, even) to buy their records on the first day of release. I bought Circus in a record bar and Cutterpillow during their Sunken Garden show. I purchased Fruitcake with the book that comes with it. Sticker Happy and Natin 99 were also in my collection so is Carbon Stereoxide. I did not purchase Aloha Milkyway but I had the original songs in that album recorded on tape.
If only the player can talk, I bet he would complain with my insatiable desire to play their melodies. There are times when I even fast forward to a song that best complements my emotions. In a happy state, I played “Tindahan ni Aling Nena”, “Pop Machine”, “Styrosnow”, “Ligaya” or “Wishing Wells”. If I’m feeling down, I had songs such as “Lightyears”, “Spoliarium”, “Para sa Masa” or “Huwag Kang Matakot”. Indeed, it was a musical Trip to Jerusalem for it never ended, day in and day out.
I also thought that their successful run would not end. But, the rest is history. Their reign as champions of OPM may have ended but they were not dethroned, ever.
Kahit na anong gawin, lahat ng bagay ay mayroong hangganan. Sad but true, the day when the Eraserheads officially broke up is like a kingdom without a ruler. After numerous chart-topping hits, smashing albums, a collector’s item book, a short-lived but memorable magazine, endorsements, television guestings, collaborations, and Senate hearings, the kings stepped down. They left thousands, if not millions, of followers who mourned as if a close friend passed away.
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However, good things come to an end and change is inevitable. For them, it came abruptly and without formal warning. The musical geniuses had to go their separate ways and it’s tough to swallow. There were no funerals to speak of but the tribute album that came after served as the perfect eulogy for those who were influenced by their ingenuity.
…Dahil minsan tayo ay naging tunay na magkaibigan. I’m older and not necessarily wiser. But, I live by the adage “Make new friends but keep the old”. Honestly, I consider the Eraserheads not just my favorite band but also a friend. I took their words as sound advice and their music kept my spirits up. Too bad I don’t get to revisit this friend much lately.
But just when you think that they’ve been “nilimot ng kahapon”, a musical that revolves around their timeless songs is being staged. I won’t miss that for it would be like an alumni homecoming with their hits as soundtrack. The younger ones should watch to appreciate the greatness of these carol kings.
Indeed, my memories of this quartet will live on forever even if those sacred cassettes have been washed away by the flood. Thank God for digital music and the testimonies from the countless souls they’ve touched, the Eraserheads will never be erased from my head.