This is about the part of life which I have spent on music— listening, learning, enjoying, hating and sometimes, simply trying to understand.
I think music is one of beautiful blessings that God has bestowed upon the human beings in order to help them in Being-Human (It might sound bullshit but it’s true).
Let me begin with the very beginning.
My mother says that when I was a baby, the easiest way to stop me from crying was to turn on the radio. But what I remember about really recognizing music is when I was 4-5 years old and my youngest paternal uncle used to play Altaf Raja songs on his audio system, back then in mid 90s. So, Tum to thehre Pardesi and Yaron maine panga le liya are among the first songs in my life that I remember. I enjoy listening to Altaf Raja even nowadays. When I saw the music video of Tum to thehre Pardesi two years back, I was very surprised to see Chitrangada Singh in it, of which I was never aware.
The other things I remember is that my elder sister used to buy audio cassettes of the then latest albums. The albums she bought were DDLJ, Mohabbatein, Raja Hindustani, Tumse Achcha Kaun Hai etc. I remember enjoying listening to those songs in an age when kids don’t concentrate on anything other than playing. So, I used to feel like a different child.
I remember one of my cousins who was 6 years elder to me. He had a hobby of collecting lyrics books of old Hindi songs, which were sold at stations for 5 bucks. He would sing those songs by using the lyrics books. I used to randomly go through those books in order to pass time in the hot summer afternoons. Listening to the song and realizing that I had already read the lyrics was a good feeling. And this helped me develop a habit of paying attention to lyrics. Those songs were mostly of Mukesh, Rafi and Kishore.
Time passed, and I grew up a little and entered the 8th standard. I observed people who were suffering from recent heart breaks and listening to Bewfa Sanam album which was a huge success back then.
Mostly out of curiosity than liking for the songs, I went to one of the older friends of mine and asked him to prepare a list of all good Bewfa Sanam-songs for me. I took that list to the audio shop where they used to record songs from a customized list, from original cassettes to a blank audio cassette— a form of piracy. The shop guy was surprised that such a young kid wanted to listen to Bewfa Sanam-type songs for which I also felt very awkward. You might be thinking how poor my songs choice were but let me tell you that it’s the time when I started understanding the meaning of Urdu poetry and Ghazals.
I gradually developed an interest in Ghazals as well. Since, it was a backward area where I lived and the electricity was provided only for 8 hours or so, the only choice I was left with was to listen to Vividh Bharti radio channel. And the disadvantage or the advantage of this was that you had to listen to whatever songs they played.
My favourite programme was the one dedicated to Ghazals. I really feel thankful to it that it introduced me to singers like Ghulam Ali, Jagjeet Singh, Abida Parveen and poets such as Kaifi Azmi, Gulzar, Nida Fazli etc.
I would also like to mention that earlier I found the Hindustani Classical Music very boring. But luckily, once I listened to Pandit Jasraj on Doordarshan at a Republic Day event. And Man! I got my opinion changed. I got an idea how legends like Tansen etc. were able to mesmerize people with their singing.
By the time I was only in class 9th, I got addicted to music— diverse music. I was so addicted to music that even in the toilet, I used to play songs on my Phillips Tape Recorder at 5 o’clock in the morning at a high volume.
I am very lucky to have such tolerating parents as mine who objected but very softly, against their son’s awkward habits.
About that period only, I used to listen to Kumar Sanu, also, whose voice sounded like Kishore Kumar singing in a constipation state which I realized later on.
Initially, I used to consider A R Rahman’s songs very weird. If you listen to Rahman’s songs such as Telephone Dhun me hasne wali, Humma-Humma, Shadi ke baad kya kya Hua etc., you might understand what I am trying to say. Don’t these songs sound weird?
Like today, back then also, such a justified hype was created about Rahman that I decided to give the man a chance of neutral listening and not comparing his songs with Ghazals and all. I was like a 1960s’ Hindi music lover trying hard to like the modern music. To my delight, I luckily found a CD of A R Rahman’s discography up till 2001. Interestingly, the CD was not being sold at the local CD shop because people preferred to buy only Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan MP3s and Internet was accessible to me back then.
I listened to AR Rahman and just after trying 3-4 albums, I felt like I was into a different world, altogether. I felt lucky. Since then only, I have been following each and every album of his. I think he is truly God’s own man.
Then came a time when an already known fellow came into flash-light in a completely new avatar— with a cap on his head, with small beard, with a mike in his hands and face facing the roof and of course, singing with his nose. Yes. It was Himesh Reshamiya. And I have no shame in accepting that I became an instant fan even after listening to his songs with shitty lyrics like— I love you o Sayyoni, Koi Shaq, What’s up. What the hell!
Himesh took excessive advantage of it and got fucked up later on. Nevertheless, I still enjoy some of his songs.
In 2008, I joined college where I was introduced to western music. My room-mate introduced me to Linkin Park, Eagles and Enrique Iglesias etc.
Western music was an unlimited horizon. And I wanted to explore it. So I began with borrowing western songs from my friends and seniors. As results, I got gold as well shit from them.
I kept getting and listened to western music in the following order: I started with Linkin Park, Akon, Marilyn Manson etc. Then awkwardly, it was Shakira, Jennifer Lopez etc. Then luckily it was Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses, The Doors, The Beatles and Nirvana etc. You see how the choice evolved.
Afterwards, I was introduced to a kind of music which I consider the worst— Rap. And I want to slap my past self for wasting 1 GB of space in my MP3 player and 3 months of time of my life on raps.
In my personal opinion, like “Rape” is one of the most disgusting among all types of crime, “Rap” is similar in nature, when it comes to music. Rappers seem to be villainous characters. Rap rapes the brain of the listener.
I have observed that when you suddenly stop listening to rap, you start behaving normally. Try it if you are a fan of Yo Yo Honey Singh— the greatest pseudo rapist rapper in India. Just try not to listen to him for a month and you will feel that people have started liking you more than they ever did and your parents have started feeling better about you.
I wonder why didn’t someone shoot me or expel me from the DEI Junior Boys Hostel (i.e. my college hostel) on a charge of listen to raps in a hostel of a (religious) educational institution. I guess they were very tolerant, thankfully.
Then God showed his sign and one of my friends came to me like an angel and a savior and saved me from Raps and re-introduced me to Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Pearl Jam, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Led Zeppelin etc. And to The Doors as well.
I started learning guitar about the same time. And thanks to my versatile friends and acquaintances that I was able to explore new artistes and new music genres. I went on listening to Eric Clapton, Bryan Adams and John Denver. Then I introduced myself to the Blues and felt lucky that I happened to enjoy B. B. King’s great pieces.
One of my friends who is a big Anil Kapoor’s fan (irrelevant) introduced me to Yanni who is comparable to A R Rahman or may be, vice versa. But thank you, bro.
In retrospect, I feel so satisfied with my life for being able to explore the greatest forms of music, for having listened to greatest and not so great artists, for loving one and hating the other kind of music, for being inspired to learn music— up to a semi-average level, for the fact that I can share with people my experience of enjoying different genres of music and help them explore some beautiful pieces which can make at least a little bit of difference in the way they feel.
P.S.: And in the end, I would like to curse the bastards who snatched my cell phone away—May those sons of bitches die of piles!