Music does that


IMG_20160120_194339It sticks. Like a parasite. It chews on your thoughts, until it eats them all. And you are left with nothing but a fat bloated parasite of a song inside. It’s funny how a few songs just open up a window of emotions you never knew existed, others just slam you down into pits of sadness; then there are those that pull you out from those pits and place you on a soft slice of cloud; those that make you remember, and those that make you forget. I always imagine my brain cells aligning themselves in quick movements to neat formations for each song. It’s crazy.

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A still from the song Talli Pogadhe from Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada

Recent obsessions – A R Rahman’s Thalli Pogadhey is one addictive piece of music. And it turns out, the effect is universal. While I thought I was tangled in the loop, most who heard it, experienced the same. What do I feel? Ecstasy. A free ride to the clouds. It has been three days, and I have heard the song in different settings – in the darkness of the night, comfort of my bed; while writing, doing fitness, walking from my office to the parking lot amid traffic, and also driving. I ain’t tired of it yet.

But soon I will be. That’s always the case. The same happened for (these are just from the top of my head) one of A R Rahman’s previous albums – OK Kanmani, Iron and Wine’s Flightless Bird American Wine, Scorpions’ Winds of Change, Duran Duran’s Only in Dreams, Hero by Family of the Year, Titanic ending music by James Horner, A sky full of stars by Coldplay, Insomnia by DJ Tiesto, Sway by Michael Bubble, Chandelier by Sia, I surrender by Hillsong and many many more.  My ratings of the songs mostly depend on the duration I have obsessed over them. Once I move on, they become like those comfort-nighttime t-shirts; they remain in the list, appearing in between new additions as fillers – and skipped most times.

I enjoy the sway of emotions that the songs bring in; I enjoy it best when they arrest time. Some songs can really do that. They snatch you away from the rotating and revolving earth, to somewhere in the cosmos. And you float. Just you and the song. Such as these – Simple Song #3 by Sumi Jo, Victoria Mullova; Manta Ray by J Ralph and Antony, Ludvico Einaudi’s Elements and Experience, The XX – Intro, Yiruma – River flows in you, Angus and Julia – All of me. 

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Simple Song #3 Youth. Photo courtesy: http://www.youtube.com

And that’s why my vote for the Best song for the Oscars this year goes to Simple Song. Second, Manta Ray. Not that I did not obsess over Earned it by The Weeknd or Sam Smith’s Writings on the wall, but the former two remind me of white lily petals, the soft fur of my neighbour’s dog, my dad’s hands, mom’s young eyes wrinkles, sister’s face. It leaves me dangling in that grey area between the world and outside. A safe space, like a warm womb.

So much in a song


 

IMG_20160119_200559There is always a story. Be it in a visual or a song. I remember listening to Lying Eyes by Eagles for the first time, and cringing a bit when they spoke about a girl cheating on a rich husband for a guy “whose dreams can never be stolen.” That was way back in eighth grade or so. I have the song inside my head like a full feature movie. Another example, Hotel California. Taking the literal meaning, I have a very dark image associated with the song. A death trap is what I see. Eagles, for me, are great storytellers. They package the stories neatly inside their songs. It is like biting into the crust of hot lava cake to see the dark gooey chocolate ooze out.

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Glenn Frey. Photo courtesy: http://www.eaglesonlinecentral.com

This morning, I woke up to the news of guitarist Glenn Frey’s death. There was an ever so light pain somewhere. Like that associated with the word ‘Gone’. It’s like a whisper in the air. Hardly noticeable. But then, as the day went by, I kept going back to the lyrics of the songs by the Eagles, and somehow, I felt a little relaxed. You know, that feeling after you have a LONG conversation with a close friend – it felt like that.

Here are some stories – a few among the many I like.

Lying Eyes

The lyrics talk about city girls opting rich fellows. Right thing to do, they think, given the comfortable lifestyle and secure future. But soon into the relationship, they realise that they are missing their true love, who is waiting on the other side of the town. They lie to their partner about leaving in the night to just give company to an old friend. That’s when the he sings – You can’t hide your lying eyes, and your smile is a thin disguise. I thought by now you would realise, there is no way to hide your lying eyes.’ 

Take it easy

The guy is confused about which woman to choose. He has so many women behind him, but he is just not sure which is the one. Just when he is standing on a street with all this chaos inside his head, he sees a woman driving by, giving him all the right signals. This only whips up the confusion inside. He pleads to her ‘C’mon baby, don’t say a maybe. I gotta know if your sweet love will save me…’ And all the while, he pacifies himself saying ‘Take it easy, take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy.’

Take it to the limit

The guy is midway in his life, and stops on his tracks to reflect on his past. He thinks maybe he has been so busy that he did not even notice the love that had come his side before. Putting all that in the past, he wants to fall back on the life’s track, and try his best one more time. And then there is a point when he doesn’t have anything to believe in, the time is trickling, the youth is fading. He sings, ‘Put me on a highway, and show me a sign. And take it to the limit one more time.’ But my favourite lines in the song: ‘You can spend all your time making money, you can spend all your love making time. If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, will you still be mine.’

You get the best of my love

This can tear you up. It’s about a couple whose relationship is going through a rough patch. The singer dreams about how it was like before and how now, it is so difficult to even have a mere conversation. But no one is to blame. He says that she tried to give the best of her love, and he is also trying to give the best of his. Best lines: ‘Every morning, I wake up and worry what’s gonna happen today. You see it your way, and I see it mine. But we both see it slipping away.’

Desperado

This is a deep one. It’s a call out to those who are too busy “riding fences” (keeping busy) to find someone to love them and settle down. There would be a point, when highs and lows don’t matter, and your prison will be the world – as you would be walking alone in it – and you might just regret on all the love you could have got/given. Best lines – ‘Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy. She will beat you if she is able. You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet!’ 

My niece


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When my sister and I were small, we used to play these silly games where we would act like neighbours, bumping into each other in a park and talking about our imaginary naughty children. My sister would get angry if I made my child seem naughtier in description than hers. She always wanted the naughtier one. So if there was ever a measure of who was winning in the game, the one who picks sentences like – ‘My son actually rolled in the mud and cane home all drenched and dirty, with a couple of scars, a torn shoe and ripped bag’ – would have the edge.

This was, say, a decade ago. All of it came back to me on December 27, 2015, when my niece was born. I woke up that morning to see a very pink tiny human being’s picture on my cell phone. It was heart warming, like taking a big gulp of hot chocolate. I looked at her short needle-straight hair, pink mouth, and the fur-white cloth wrapped around her. Like a Russian nesting doll. But in a cute way.

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This is how the Russian nesting dolls look. Image courtesy: http://www.etsy.com

The first week, from what I heard from my mom, she did not let anyone sleep. Long spells of wailing, and then brief sessions of slumber. ‘She is crying like someone is hurting her’ – my sister said nervously on call. The next day, I woke up to a miraculous video – she was turning on her stomach, except for her tiny hand, which she couldn’t slip out from underneath her belly. ‘It’s just the fourth day, and she is already turning!’ – my father’s excited voice. I watched that video over five times that day.

She is a US citizen, born in the cold of Ohio. My mother holds her for me in the faint sunlight some mornings, during our Skype sessions. She looks like the swirls in the strawberry softy ice cream. So soft and pink. Two weeks old now. She only smiles in her sleep, but pays attention to claps and loud voices. ‘She is so cranky these days. Sometimes in the night, she suddenly begins crying, and it is almost like she has forgotten how to drink milk.’ My sister is tired, but never gets angry at her. She can’t. ‘She just asks the baby to ‘understand her’,’ laughs my mom.

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Courtesy, the hospital

One day, I told them to keep the video on as they dressed her for her first visit to the pediatrician. Her bed was strewn with a-little-over-palm-size T-shirts, and slacks. Finally, zeroing on a white jacket, my sister slides her tiny hands into each hole of the sleeve. But her hands get lost somewhere mid-way in the over-sized shirt. ‘Every dress is big for her,’ my mom says, taking a neat white thick blanket and wrapping her up. She looked like a momo then.

Sometimes, during the nights, after a long day at work, I wonder what her hair smells like. It just comes like a whisper of thought. Nothing that I dwell upon. Sometimes, even in the middle of work. Just the thought that a little of me, just a little, is in her – almost always cracks a smile on my aunt face. I guess it’s just a family thing.