I’m not someone with an eclectic taste in music or someone who understand the rises and falls in notes like a music connoisseur.
As a kid, overhearing my mom’s Abba collection, particularly Dancing Queen, made me want to grow up to be one someday. I questioned her why The Beatles were called so – why name yourself after insects? Lobo sounded to me like a Bengali’s distortion of a reasonably good name with rolled rounded syllables.
The cadences of gazals that frequently filled our home turned out to be a good lullaby to put me to bed. Those, in fact, were part of my first rendezvous with music.
Soon enough, adolescence set in. So did the heyday for boy bands, Venga boys and Spice Girls. I don’t know what it was – the desire to fit into the ‘90s pop world or just how cute I found Nick Carter or Ronan Keating.
Oh yes! I belong to that generation that hummed “Smile..an everlasting smile” like it was only written for them or “Quit playing games with my heart” when trying to mend a tender broken heart.
I remember saving up to get my first Backstreet Boys Millennium collection or Westlife’s Coast to Coast. It was a transition – I liked falling asleep to a boy singing to me on my Walkman! Ah, the innocent joys of growing up!
Talking of collections, ours was probably the last generation who owned cassettes. Flipping sides, listening to songs in a particular order which soon got pasted to memory, making mix tapes as gifts and decorating the cover; The charm is now lost.
I only see vinyl records and cassettes on retro wallpapers for the new-age gadgets that replace them. My dad used to own a huge record player, and the records are still stacked up in some corner.
The rhythmic sound of the record needle or stylus on the vinyl grooves of the disc, soft in-built yellow lights of the player, huge boxlike speakers overhead, and my dad humming his favorite tune – “Zindagi ek safar hai suhana...yaha kal kya ho kisne jana” on his rocking chair is an abiding memory.
Today, I fancy the old. The classic musty smell of old books, smooth old red wine, crisp old jokes, and the list goes on to include antique working gramophones, Polaroid cameras and music from decades ago.
Billy Joel’s charismatic words were introduced to me in my early twenties, and from then on, it was a journey of discovery. I grew out of my childhood dreams and into adulthood musically too. For me, it is mostly the lyrics that resonate. Van Morrison’s (and a later rendition by Michael Bublé) of Moondance makes me pine for love.
Tracy Chapman’s The Promise and Fast Car, Billy Joel’s Vienna, River of Dreams, Piano Man and so it goes, to name a few, which have left indelible impressions on me.
It will be a shame not to mention Chopin’s classical romantic aura like no other, or the answers (attempt to, in the least) to the ‘life’ questions I found in the intonations and poetry of Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen.
From my musical bag, which is varied, I have picked ones that would tell a story: The story of my memories. We’ve oft heard how music elevates our moods, making the tough bearable, or just helps one unwind. Yes, it does all of thatt. Most of all, it brings back memories.
“I like to tell a story when I sing,” the legendary Nat King Cole once said. “The story has always fascinated me. I like to make people aware of words. Some singers use words simply to call attention to their voice. I do it the other way around.” I hear him loud and clear.
Moments that get buried in your subconscious only to resurface at the very tune of a song. Music is my time machine. Every time I rewind to that day, that moment, that person, and that memory, a song inevitably evokes that.
I’ve heard people talk about “bad tastes” in music. We forget: One man’s treasure is another man’s trash. I’ve come to believe that that’s exceptionally true for music.
I’m not musically inclined but I do enjoy a wide genre and listen with an open mind without much regard to the reviews. I’m amazed at times when I find a connection with the polished and the perceived-to-be crass songs at the same time.
Again, what might be crass to you might be a gem to me for reasons you might not fathom. I unabashedly claim that O-la-la from The Dirty Picture or Chikni Chameli or even Munni Badnaam are some of my recent favorites for the rustic charm that endures in these contemporary songs.
Add to that O Womaniya from Gangs of Wasseypur (yet to be released). In the same breath though, I am an ardent fan of Adele and a bathroom singer of Someone Like You, Rolling in the Deep and Rumor Has It.
To each their own: We have different choices and varied interests. Then why not enjoy what keeps us going and let others revel in theirs, instead of labeling and stereotyping? Well, of course, there may be differences in terms of the quality of music, a singer’s voice and the singing abilities which is fair to judge.
Rebecca Black’s Friday is a classic case of a song all wrong (to my ears) but with approximately 33 million views, I’m dumbfounded. Not all voices are exceptional, some just have an unexplainable connect and that’s it! You just like to come back to that voice or lyrics, or both. Many think Bryan Adams’ songs are corny but that husk in his voice when he sings! To really love a woman and the Spanish guitar in the background always tingle me.
If a tune, song, lyric tells you a story, savor it, despite what others may think of your choice in music. Some memories fade but ones associated with music always come back as vividly as reality.
Try recalling your life experiences through the music you would associate to those times, and I hope you’re pleasantly surprised by what you find.
For me, it’s been a fascinating ride!
The writer is an aspiring and unrelenting story teller.