Some random midnight thoughts about music

My brother-in-law knows 5 languages. He can fluently speak them, with nuances and twangs intact. I haven’t envied anyone more.

I once had a client who knew about 9 Indian languages, and he was so bloody fluent in all of them. The first thing that occurred to my mind was ‘Wow, he can watch movies in all those languages, without worrying if the dvd had subtitles.’ Or he can now bond with so many more assholes at bars, singing their songs as passionately, without missing out on the feeling of knowing what the fuck he was singing.

So when my Bengali friends are tripping on some bengali music, my reaction is ‘I want to know what that shit is, why the fuck am I left out?’

Then I’m thinking…well here’s what I’m thinking…

Here’s a little confession. My mother tongue is Tamil. I admit, that I’m not the best of Tamilians around. (Ask Chennai boys what they think of Bangalore Tamil boys.) Nevertheless, I am one. So, there are these two songs in Alai Payuthey that I totally trip on. ‘Kadhal sadagudu’ and ‘Endrendrum punnagai’. I have heard their hindi versions too, ‘Aye udi udi’ and ‘Oh humdum suniyo re’. I understand every single word of the hindi version, and honestly most of the words in the tamil version go above my head. But I know that the sound of the tamil version, just the way the syllables fall on my ears, is insanely more magical than the hindi version. And exactly the same way, ‘Dil se re’ has a tamil version to it, and it sounds like shit to my ears.

And when Ilayaraja’s Geetanjali, released, my cassette conked and dragged because I must have played  ‘O priya priya’ and ‘om namaha nayana’ more than even the sound engineer of it.  I don’t know a word of Telugu. ‘O priya priya’ was later made in Hindi too, and it sounded like crap to me. And yes, Geetanjali had a tamil version too, which I honestly never bothered to listen to.

I own the craziest collection of punjabi music, because I just love the sound of it. I don’t understand a word. Now I know a bit more, because I’ve asked around, because it makes me want to know what ‘gur nal ishq mitha’ really means. Apparently it’s ‘love is sweeter than jaggery’ or ‘mera laung gawacha’ means ‘my nose ring is lost’. I want to meet a person who knows the meaning of these lyrics. And compare notes with him. Did he enjoy it more than me, just because he knew what the words meant?

The songs of Metallica do something to me. The mere sound of it. I have now bought a book that explains the lyrics and context of every song. I’m reading it for academic knowledge, but it makes no fucking difference.

Apparently ‘Enter sandman’ is about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Crib Death), when a baby dies inexplicably in its crib.

Apparently a sandman is a chap who sprinkles sand in your eyes, to induce sleep, and get you rid of nightmares and give you beautiful dreams or some such stuff.

I had never heard the word ‘sandman’ till that song arrived. Yes, but it made me want to know what it meant.

I listened to it an entire night when my landlord asked me to vacate my previous place because my neighbour had a problem with me. That track made complete sense to my emotions that night. The lyrics are totally senseless for a situation like that. For you. Not for me. How do they make sense? I don’t know. It’s beyond logic and analysis.

I know no better by now knowing what Metallica really meant.

When Rahman was composing for ‘Lagaan’, he asked Javed Akhtar to give him a word that sounded thunderous, and Javed said ‘ghanana ghanana’, which means nothing actually. Yes, that part does sound thunderous.

music

So which now brings me to the point that I’m baffled by. A huge crowd walked out of Rahman’s concert at Wembley, because he sang some 12 tamil songs, a language that they don’t understand.

It wasn’t some karaoke night. It was an AR fucking Rahman show. I pity the assholes who had all the money to shell out for the tickets, but left behind that part of their anatomy that could really feel his music.

They needed words? Words in their mother tongue to really feel it? If they need to understand what ‘nenjukulle’ really means for loving it, well here it is, ‘nenjukulle’ literally translated means ‘inside my heart/ chest’ (which is still not accurate). Infact the sound of ‘nenjukulle’, the way Rahman has asked Shakthisree to sing it, is the more accurate meaning of the word than this crap.

If one fucking tweet said ‘Hey heard this beautiful sounding song that Rahman sang today that went something like ‘ninjakullai or nenjikillaaa…or something like that..and it sounded so awesome..anyone there who can tell me what it means..dying to know’, you would have had a million guys going all out to tell you what it means. That would have been much nicer. But anyway, that meaning is futile. The real meaning is the sound of it.

And to all those who feel that they are being broad minded or broad hearted to accept ‘why this kolaveri di’, despite it being in tamil…apart from the words ‘kolaveri’ and ‘di’, the entire song is in English you assholes. (I don’t know how this makes sense for this argument, but somehow I think it does). Nobody realizes it, that they are loving it because of the music. And they think they are strangely connecting to a tamil song. ..but no. There is no tamil in it.

I can hear a million people echoing together ‘kun faya kun’ at any concert, the exact part in a hindi song that noone really understands. And when the hindi part happens, everyone kind of mumbles something. But the fun is that the most non-understandable part of that song is also its most beautiful part.

I’m not demeaning lyrics. But those words are lent to music and not reserved for poetry. Because the writer knows that there’s only so much words can do. Music can give it a meaning that it never had.

My father doesn’t know a word of hindi. But he still keeps asking me to play Rafi’s ‘Chahunga mein tujhe’, from Dosti. He has never asked me even once what those words really mean. But every time he hears it, he’s moist eyed, and says ‘Rafi’s voice is like butter’.

I now realize, music is not just about the words. It’s about the sound of those words.

And mainly, music is now the only thing left to unite us. Do not drag that too into this muck of languages. Please leave it alone. There are enough things like language alone, religion, states, countries etc working overtime to make that boundary thicker.

Please leave music alone. It was invented to make the world a more beautiful place.

I hate whatever I have written here, because I am not able to exactly express what I am feeling. But that’s the fuck up. This isn’t music.

PS: Ignore spelling, grammar, construct, repetitiveness etc because it’s too fucking tiring, boring and irritating to keep editing it. 

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5 Comments

  1. Fantastic stuff machan; I was totally taken aback by the reaction to the concert – bunch of nutjobs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s so much of what you have written that resonates with me. I am a mudblood Tamilian too. I learnt Tamil only to understand Kaadhal Sadugudu. Yet I don’t agree that it is only music that unites. I think music draws us closer to ourselves while languages drag us to unfamiliar territories ( like food). And this weird combination of both happening at the same time is what unites people. All the more important to have more of both music and languages. And the idiots who were outraged at the number of tamil songs? Well must be the similar to the idiots who judge a pizza by the amount of cheese on it. The paisa vasool seekers for whom full PV doesn’t happen unless they can’t sing along to it waving their mobiles around to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome Ramsam straight from the heart. Love you for this. It reminds me of Bob Marley’s thoughts on Music… “Music is beyond caste, Creed, religion language and borders. People are working very hard to create a divide day in and day out… so how can i take a day off”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Super, well expressed, something I have not been able to word it as well as you did. Share the same feeling about music…

    Like

  5. Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.

    Like


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