Soul-Stirring Teenage Music Influences and Nostalgia

What is it about old songs? The songs that you listened to when you were a kid. Its just by happenstance that I stumbled on this song called Cloud Number 9 by Bryan Adams; which triggered a flurry of memories in me. All the Bryan Adams’ songs that I used to obsess about came to the fore.

Thankfully there are apps these days that come to your rescue. I immediately went on the “Gaana” app where I could listen to all his songs, one after the other. I hadn’t really listened to these songs in a long while, so when I did, my brain went into an over drive and recalled the lyrics of these songs; I could sing all of them word for word. Of course I am a horrible singer, so I kept singing in a very low voice; but it was amazing.

I remember I had received the results of my exam after I had heard Cloud Number 9 a couple of times. The song resonated with me as I was happy to have passed the exam despite the fear of failure. In those days I used to be a starry-eyed kid, I had crushes and Bryan Adams kept reinforcing that phase in me. And so did the Backstreet Boys.

My brother used to listen to Bon Jovi, The Doors and Pink Floyd; I listened to them but I did not have the maturity to understand them. I particularly began appreciating Pink Floyd right after my brother passed away. But I began to really understand the others much later. I was 16 by then and a couple of more years later I was exploring them further.

I have always had a very eclectic taste, I could listen to music from so many genres and eras since my childhood. Grace à my musically inclined family, I had been exposed to almost all the genres and eras of music. I could listen to anyone, from the Backstreet Boys to Pavarotti. The Backstreet Boys were my favorite boy band in my teenage years, along with Boyzone, Westlife and Take That. I was so obsessed with them, but I loved all other kinds of music too.

I am a 90s kid. The songs from the 80s and 90s are the most influential on me. The song called Take on Me by A-ha or any songs by the Cranberries and Mike + the Mechanics always make a huge impact on me. As I grew up, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Abba; all of them influenced me a lot.

They say that the music we listen to in our teenage years remain our favorite all our life. I reckon its because we tend to associate a lot of our feelings and emotions with the songs that we listen to at that age. As we are in that process of growing up, we often go through moments of confusion, chaos, bliss, fun, happiness and sorrow, and all these songs help us in traversing this unpredictable path, helping us in trying to understand the complex situations of life. We also forge our strongest friendships at that age and music cements that bonding. I think its a fact as I always feel happy when I come across the music I loved in my teenage years. Pink Floyd and Westlife were the two bands that got me through my brother’s death. David Guetta’s Titanium, with its very powerful lyrics and Sia’s haunting voice got me through a very tough time on the professional front. Or how Cloud Number 9 made my happiness extra special. Music generally makes me happy, but these old treasures give me a special feeling. So many times I get goosebumps, its amazing! The nostalgia makes the music more sweeter to the heart and the soul.

Music is a universal language, it has the power to build bridges between different people. It is a stress buster, a soul healer and something that permeates through generations. I love how it connects people across ages and backgrounds. And when we listen to the familiar words or notes, it just transports us back in time to make us think about those golden moments that hold such a special place in our heart.

Fête de la Musique: An Ode to Music

Fete-de-la-Musique-Demandez-le-programme

As I listen to the songs of the Spanish singer Juanes, I reflect on the significance of this day. This day is not just any music festival, it represents nature. Music is nature, in the chirping of the birds, in the waves hitting the shore, in the trees brushing against each other, in the wind, it is ubiquitous and universal. Music is magic. Music transcends differences. And this event is like a bridge, to bring people together.

On 21st June every year, Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day is celebrated all over the world. It originated in France in 1982 as a music festival. Jack lang, the French Minister of Culture conceptualized it in 1981. According to another theory, American musician Joel Cohen in France, in 1976, proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice and since then the entire world celebrates World Music Day on June 21. They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops.

On this day, musicians all over the world organize and perform for free on the streets, in parks and various other public places to make music accessible to everyone. People come together to bond over music and enjoy the joyous atmosphere. This day is also celebrated to promote peace and goodwill through music.

Ever since, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 700 cities in 120 countries, including France, India, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, and Japan.

According to their official site, the Fête has turned into a true national holiday: France shuts down on the summer solstice and musicians take over. Almost 8% of the country (5 million people) have played an instrument or sung in public for the Fête de la Musique.

Fête de la Musique’s purpose is to promote music in two ways:

  • Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, under the slogan “Faites de la musique” (“make music”, a homophone of Fête de la Musique).
  • Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. Two of the caveats to being sanctioned by the official Fête de la Musique organization in Paris are that all concerts must be free to the public, and all performers donate their time for free. This is true of most participating cities, now, as well.

The first time I saw the celebration of Fête de la Musique was in my French language Institute, Alliance Française de Bangalore. AFB celebrates it every year with great fervor. They organize many concerts and music related activities for a week. The atmosphere is amazing, beautiful music and people coming together to have a great time.

For me, music is an integral part of my life. I need it like I need air, food and water. My day starts and ends with music. I have a very eclectic taste; I love to listen to the music from various genres, eras and languages.

Music is a universal language, one that everyone can understand it. It is a stress buster, a friend, a mellifluous melody which gives us happiness, courage and strength. Most people listen to music from all over the world, across all genres and across all languages. There is no end to music; there can be infinite permutations and combinations of the seven notes that make up music. And there is absolutely no dearth of talented people who compose these notes into a harmonious melange of sounds to make beautiful music. Each and every one of us can identify with music and it binds us together. If music has the power to unite us, we also have a choice to stay united and forget our differences. Music is nature. And that is the purpose of this event.

Playing music for free for spreading love, goodwill and joy to the people, giving them access to music much more easily and bringing them together regardless of language barriers, is the reason why Fête de la Musique is so important. It is an ode to music and to the people who love music.

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us – Martin Luther, German professor of theology, composer and monk

Music is the strongest form of magic – Marilyn Manson, musician

Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music – Jimi Hendrix, musician

The world’s most famous and popular language is music – Psy, music artist

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Stream of Consciousness and Coldplay make for a Heady Combination

Ever had a day when you find yourself pondering over random thoughts that lead you to a series of connected thoughts? Stream of Consciousness, as it is called in literary terms, is a narrative mode or device that depicts the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind. It is also known as “Interior Monologue”, many classic authors used this technique in their literary masterpieces.

Well, I am having such a day. And listening to Coldplay is only aggravating this situation, not that I am complaining! Coldplay songs not only soothe me, but also make me serene and thoughtful. Their songs have beautiful melodic tunes, calm tones, and very thought provoking lyrics. Plus Chris Martin’s beautiful soft voice is haunting and tranquil. Their songs are great for soul searching and motivation. And I can’t pinpoint only one song, all of their songs have that effect. Although it’s their latest offering called, “Up and Up”, that actually got me into this whole mood.

“We’re gonna get it, get it together right now

Gonna get it, get it together somehow

 Gonna get it, get it together and flow

 We’re gonna get it, get it together, I know

 Gonna get it, get it together and flow

 Gonna get it, get it together and go

 Up and up and up.

When you’re in pain, when you think you’ve had enough

 Don’t ever give up

 Don’t ever give up”

This song made me think about Roger Federer. Okay, yes, He is always on my mind, but I had been thinking about his recent injury and illness bouts and his first withdrawal from a Grand Slam in 17 years. He has a record of playing 65 consecutive Grand Slams in his entire career. And that streak just came to an end. Sure it is almost impossible for anyone to break that streak but it’s still very difficult to fathom a Slam without him. There was a really nice article even on this with the hashtag #WhenFedererLastMissedASlam. I just keep on wishing that he recovers soon and gets back to his winning ways in the upcoming Grass Season. Roger is gonna get it together and he will go up and up and up and he will never give up.

And just then Coldplay’s song called “A sky Full of Stars” began playing, which led me to think about the Masterchef Australia episode I watched last night…

I am a foodie! Food occupies a huge space in my mind. But this thought wasn’t so much about the food, as it was about the show itself. The contestants who leave their various jobs and monthly salaries for following their dreams. That takes guts! I know it! My dad left his job to become a full time artist, a field where money is an unstable element. But my parents did it, they made it on their own, despite all the initial struggles or even going through a painful field of landmine that was my brother’s terminal illness. They lost a son, but kept on soldiering on for me, so that I could have a life. I am digressing… Here’s what I was really thinking: Masterchef Australia might be a reality show, but the way it is presented is amazing. The judges are never too harsh on the contestants, they put it up straight, but tactfully. They know that the contestants are amateurs and they realize that they are bound to make mistakes. They actually mentor these people, even if they cook badly, they tell them that it’s ok and they just need to pull up their socks and work harder. We’re a sky full of stars and we do light up the path…

The next track on my playlist was written and produced by Chris Martin along with Timbaland for Nelly Furtado, it is called “All Good Things Come to an End.” Chris also harmonized throughout the song with Nelly’s haunting vocals.

“Flames to dust,

 Lovers to friends,

 Why do all good things come to an end?

 Come to an end, come to an,

 Why do all good things come to an end?

 Come to an end, come to an,

 Why do all good things come to an end?”

Which brought me to the thought of the show Castle series finale. It ended unexpectedly and it is one of my favorite shows. I am so sad to see it end; I cannot believe I will not get to watch the ruggedly handsome Castle pitching his crazy geeky theories about the weird crimes, the ever skeptical Captain Beckett dismissing these theories and use her amazing detective skills to solve them, Detectives Ryan and Esposito having their fun at Castle’s expense but respecting him all the while, Lanie being her sassy self, Martha giving her Martha-isms and Alexis being the headstrong and smart daughter of Castle, and the duo of “Caskett”, wowing us with their team work and their beautiful and sweet love story. Why do all good things come to an end?

Well, there was one end that was exciting. Legends of Tomorrow aired its season 1 finale, and as much as this show ran off course for a bit before coming back on track, the cliffhanger was the most exciting. Introducing Rex Tyler from the Justice Society of America promises a much better season 2 up ahead. And Patrick J. Adams (from the show Suits) is playing Rex which makes this a doubly exciting venture. Let’s hope season 2 is more stable and kickass.

Which brings me to the eagerly awaited The Flash finale, Zoom vs. The Flash; it will definitely kick ass…

Ohh… speaking of kicking ass, the X-men kicked Apocalypse’s ass! Apocalypse and his 4 horsemen were awesome, especially Magneto. But the X-men, and especially Quicksilver kicked their ass back. Though the intensity of emotions in this movie remind me of the song Miracles by Coldplay, which was a soundtrack for the amazing touching story of Unbroken, about an Olympic athlete who could not be broken in a concentration camp.

“From up above I heard

 The angels sing to me these words.

 And sometimes in your eyes

 I see the beauty in the world.

 Oh, now I’m floating so high.

 I blossom and die.

 Send your storm and your lightning to strike

 Me between the eyes,

 Eyes”

Call it rambling, call it stream of consciousness, this is what my mind was doing. And writing this blog actually got me organized. And trust Coldplay to invade my mind at the strangest of times and make me feel nice and motivated.

“I, oh, I, oh
Got me feeling drunk and high
So high, so high
I, oh, I, oh, I, oh
Now I’m feeling drunk and high
So high, so high
Woo!”

Music and Food: An Incredible Soul Uplifting Weekend

Everyone in my family is a foodie, a music lover and an art lover. My parents are well known artists professionally, who work on various mediums like watercolors, oils, 3d paintings, stained glass, glass frosting, glass etching, silk painting, etc. We have eclectic tastes in all of the above. We got a chance to spend this weekend with amazing company and jamming and listening the golden oldies at my home, while eating some amazing food.

My dad plays the guitar and the mouth organ. He can mostly play the music from the 1950s and the 1960s. I have been brought up to appreciate the music of that era. And I do love it, the songs were truly melodious and harmonious. Aditya Tiwari Uncle, one of his very old friends’ is an accomplished and renowned piano-accordion player. So he was in town for a few days and my dad organized a day to immerse himself in playing music. He invited Dharma Kirthi Uncle, one of his best friends’ over from Secunderabad for the weekend, who is a member of a nationwide Shankar-Jaikishen fan club. Shankar-jaikishen was a duo of ultra-talented composers and musicians who composed many classic and iconic music pieces of the Golden Era.

Mom had prepared an array of yummy dishes for lunch and dinner. She had made stuffed masala bitter gourd dish, a dal fry, pumpkin and curd salad, Theccha (a typical Maharastrian chilly, garlic and coriander chutney), and rice and rotis for lunch. She made the ever favorite Paav Bhaji for dinner. And Biscuit pudding was our dessert for the entire day.

Kirthi Uncle had arrived in Bangalore early in the morning, so till Tiwari Uncle arrived, both the buddies were catching up with each other. The day started out with getting the instruments tuned and remembering the songs that could be played. Dad began playing his Hawaiian guitar and Uncle began playing his piano-accordion. Shankar-Jaikishen music was melodious and the songs were soulful. Listening to them is a real pleasure. The lyrics were also very beautiful. Later dad also played the mouth organ along with the accordion. It was just so amazing. They played many beautiful songs of those times and it was so mellifluous and soothing to the ears. They even played my all-time favorite songs, “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh” and “raat Ke Humsafar,” which I have loved since my childhood. All we could do was listen and get transported to an era gone by but not forgotten.

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In the evening, my cousin Shalin showed up, he is an excellent guitar player as well and he is learning to play guitar and flute online on his own. So he and my dad jammed up till dinner time. He played the Spanish guitar and my dad played the Hawaiian guitar, which made their jamming so awesome.

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Apart from the jam session, we also had a fun time reminiscing old times and dad regaled us with his funny childhood stories and his time with his friends as well.

The next day, Kirthi Uncle stayed back and he was going to leave by evening. So these two friends got us some fish and my mom made a delicious Goanese style fish curry and rice with fried fish. I hadn’t eaten fish curry in a long time, so it was really amazing and we all gorged on it. Again the Sunday was spent relaxing in good music, good food, good banter and hell loads of laughter.

My dad hadn’t had a music jamming session like this one in a long, long time. It was amazing to see him having the time of his life, for a change from the usual routine. It was great for us all and this weekend would be an unforgettable one.

Music, food and art, are really good for the soul. All of us have mountain loads of work and responsibilities which result in humungous amounts of stress. And these are the things that can free us and channelize our stress into something soothing. Our spirits can get uplifted and we can truly have some peace in life. I hope we get to have more weekends like this.