Musical Tastes

Coming to college really changes boys. I mean, really. They mature like crazy. When they come in, they’re pretty rough around the edges. Not that they’re totally polished when they come out, goodness gracious no! But one can see the (usually not so) subtle changes wrought by the hands of a college environment. I had this epiphany when I was contemplating my musical tastes yesterday.

I had a headache. A pretty big one. It was around 11pm when we came back from finishing half-a-litre of strawberry flavoured frozen yoghurt. Though the story of our antics while eating that yoghurt would make for excellent reading, it must be deferred for now. I crashed into my room with the intention of going to sleep on my bed.

Enter scumbag headache. Not only would it not let me sleep, but it was making sure that I felt each of those hundred elephants running around inside my skull. I was not in the mood to take a painkiller. I had nothing very serious to do and I had the promise of the next day being very busy. So I did the next best thing. I decided to listen to Pink Floyd.

Now this was not the exact version of the song I heard, I was listening to the original, but this is one hell of an awesome performance of this song by David Gilmour. I closed my eyes and let the music flow over me, into me and around me. And for the first time in many weeks, I felt tears stream from my eyes. Was it the headache-induced haze, or was it that fount of pent-up feelings which I was releasing in a vulnerable state? I don’t know. But the chords of that song touched me deeply. And it’s seamless easing into the first notes of “Shine on, you Crazy Diamond” went unnoticed. But the lyrics did not. “…And we’ll bask in the shadow of yesterday’s triumph, sail on the steel breeze…” The melancholy nature of the song with it’s amazing lyrics swept me away, away from this world into one far removed from this one. A world in which nothing mattered. Piyush says it’s weird. I neither dope nor drink heavily, and Pink Floyd is one of my favourite bands. I usually just smile and say it’s my inner psychedelic who gets awakened, I have no need for artificial stimulus to get to him.

I was almost looking forward to the next song, which is usually Comfortably Numb, but to my utter surprise, I hadn’t added that to the playlist that night. Instead, Porcupine Tree started up, their song “Blackest Eyes” coming in with it’s hidden sexuality and inner meanings.

Again, this is a live version of the song, I listened to a studio recording. The transition was not as smooth this time, of course. I was switching bands. However, this one again brought out different emotions in me. And even through my headache-induced haze, I was able to correctly figure out that while the music in these songs was great, no, it was nigh on superlatively brilliant, it wasn’t the music which attracted me, no. It was the lyrics.

This one realisation gave me pause. Ever since I came to college, my musical tastes have changed like crazy. From listening to (apparently gay, according to many seniors of mine) bands like Backstreet Boys and stuff Like Nickelback and Bon Jovi, I had switched to heavier stuff. Iron Maiden comes to mind. I’d begun listening to Metallica, Black Sabbath, even a bit of Judas Priest. Three Doors Down and Poets of the Fall also began featuring in my playlists a lot. I’d become sophisticated in my musical tastes, or so I told myself. I’d actually begun going for the musical skills displayed by the band and not just what the lyric-writers wrote down.

And so for the next one and a half years, lyrics began taking a backseat in my thoughts about music as I lost myself in the strains of emotions played on the dusky strings of guitars and the sublime keys of a piano. Which wasn’t bad. I had to learn to appreciate different parts of songs, and this was my chance to really understand all about instruments. As an aside, I must say this. Though I play the keyboard, I find that drumming holds a special place in my heart. Hence my appreciation for Gavin Harrison. Dude, you rock.

Anyway, back to the point. While I was lying in bed listening to these songs, I was also message chatting with a close friend, Krithika. And quite suddenly she decided to send me a link. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, it’s a bit hazy in my head, but the song struck a chord deep inside me.

It’s a Hindi song. I’ll translate for my friends who’re not fluent in the language (hint, Kari, hint). I must add, though, that for those not familiar with the subtle nuances of Hindavi or Urdu, the precise meaning and poetic expression of this song becomes naught.

Tum jo mil gaye ho, to ye lagataa hain;
(Now that I've found you, it seems like)
Ke jahaan mil gayaa. 
(I've found the whole world) 
Ek bhatake huye raahee ko, kaarawaan mil gayaa.
(A lost wanderer has found his companion)

Baithho naa door hum se, dekho khafaa naa ho;
(Do not sit far from me, and do not get angry/frustrated with me)
Kismat se mil gaye ho, mil ke judaa n ho;
(It's my luck to have found you, do not let go)
Meree kyaa khataa hai, hotaa hain ye bhee;
(What sin have I committed, It is known to happen)
Ke jamee se bhee kabhee, aasamaan mil gayaa. 
(That one may get, from this Earth, the whole sky) 

Tum kyaa jaano, tum kyaa ho; 
(You have no idea who you are) 
Ek sureelaa nagmaa ho; 
(You are a lovely song) 
Bheegee raato mein mastee, tapate dil pe saayaa ho; 
(Naughtiness on a rainy night, a shadow for my heart in the sun) 
Ab jo aa gaye ho, jaane naa doongaa; 
(And now that you're here, I'll never let you go) 
Ke mujhe ek haseen, meharabaa mil gayaa. 
(I've found a beautiful companion) 

Tum bhee the khoye khoye, main bhee bujhaa bujhaa thaa; 
(You were also lost, and I was very listless) 
Ajanabee jamaanaa, apanaa koee n thaa; 
(This age is strange, and we have no one else apart from ourselves) 
Dil ko jo mil gayaa hai, teraa sahaaraa; 
(And now that my heart has found your support) 
Ek naee jindagee kaa, nishaa mil gayaa.
(I have found the beginnings of a new life)

And it was after I had listened to this song around five times in succession, that I understood that I hadn’t really strayed from my roots at all. The meaning of a song holds more meaning for me than anything else. When pure poetry flows from the mouth of a singer in a tune which beats with one’s heart, then one is doubly seized. Once, when the music touches the heart, and the second time when the brain derives the meaning of the lyrics. Especially if the music director is Pt. Madan Mohan, the lyric-writer is Kaifi Azmi and the singer is the versatile Mohammad Rafi. A song which touches the heart, soul and mind of a man. They just don’t make them the same any more.


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