Let the music play
When we were kids, it was never about the words we spoke or understood, but about the beats that got us moving and the chord it touched within. Music generated feelings and movements—head bob, foot tap, hip shake and a sense of liberation. An interesting documentary on the king of pop, showed how MJ first began to tap his foot to the sounds of his washing machine! Least did his folks predict what a legend he was going to be.
Nursery rhymes, carols, jingles, they all come with a sense of nostalgia and feel good factor. Also because they create a platform of neutrality and equality, for generations, one era after the other made humpty dumpty sit on the wall, and stars twinkle in the sky.
Being a 90s kid and all, I woke up to the sounds of Boney M, Abba and MJ. Apparently, I often threw a fit and never went off to sleep till I heard some music, and so my father played my then favorite Brown Girls in the Ring! Barely two-years-old, music had taken control. It was the time for MTV and MJ was king, ain’t no matter if you’re black or white played on loop. Thriller scared the daylights out of me the first time I watched the video, but it grew on me eventually. We would watch the videos for hours and emulate the steps. I know how much I was laughed upon, because it became a sort of a ritual. I picked up a song, mugged up the lyrics and steps before I put on a show for everyone, which had to be watched and appreciated at every family gathering!
Music was constant at our home. The radio, AIR, MTV, Records, we taped shows and music, made note of lyrics and it obviously was something that gave meaning to everything around. At school Aunty Stephanie made us sing, play the keyboard, express, and enjoy. (Of course she scolded us if we missed a note.)
Then came a time when all creativity came to halt. Drawing, Dance, Theatre, Sports, Music, etc didn’t remain to be subjects but recreational activity, subsided by the weight of Math, Geometry, History and so on. Creative expression got restricted. We wrote in a certain pattern, grasped a particular chunk, and that would divide us on our illegibility with a grade.
Puberty hit, silence crept in, and boy oh boy, was it me against the world suddenly? And when that ‘disconnect’ or ‘conflict’ takes place, it’s when one connects with music most. It was the golden era of a ‘walkman’. I don’t know any teenager who didn’t go quite and replace words with those gawky looking black chunky headphones. Spice girls, Backstreet boys, Boyzone, Westside; did those bands sing a tune to our heart! Well, that’s what happens when we let music play. It transforms us to another space. An alter ego, a parallel universe, that makes us forget everything else.
As we grow older, we open up to different things and similarly listen to music from a diverse genre. In my teenage years, I was lucky to be introduced to some old classics, jazz, pop and rock at home. Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, The Doors, Police, The Beatles, Janet Jackson, and so many more. It was the early 2000, internet had kicked in, and we were discovering new music on soundcloud, youtube, and unfortunately taking to piracy through Limewire. I discovered multiple genres and bands, and understood it was not just the music but lyrics that mattered. Words gave music a soul. Pearl Jam, Nickel Back, Morrison, Joe Sat, Zeppelin, Lennon, The Who, Goo Goo Dolls, Pink Flyod, Maroon 5, even Dido, Eminem, Shakira, Rihanna and Avril Lavigne spoke to me. The pain, remorse, love, life, rebellion, gave me a platform to be what I was, or wasn’t.
These weren’t the only bands I listened to. Of course alternate rock was the closest to me, but I enjoyed diversity and tunes, and how we moved differently to each beat, from each genre. It was just about letting go, being free, and dancing or grooving mystically. Head banged to metallica, hips moved to Shakira, swayed to Steve Martin, among others. Today when I look back to how we evolved not just technologically from a walkman to disk man, to an ipod; but also how each decade that was about a certain genre, has now become about EDM.
Electronic Dance Music, sure it’s in vogue and has a buzz to itself. The gigs are exciting, the energy level is great, tempo is high, neon accessories add the quirk and mayhem, all in all, its super fun. But, I often wonder for how long? I doubt if EDM will leave the kind of magnitude that age old bands left behind.
I do enjoy these new emerging artists, but also feel it lacks depth. I mean its okay when you’re in a club, you wanna dance, unwind and have fun, but it ends there. So, call me old school but it does feel like a fling—exciting and fiery, with not a long lasting impact.
Moving on, what motivated me to write this piece was that in my near five years of professional writing, I refrained from writing on music. The reason? I have friends in music. I know how they’re anal about it and live, eat, breathe; music. Seeing it as their religion, I respect it even more and wish its best to let the experts talk the talk.
KRSNA an emerging Hip Hop artist in India, and a friend introduced me to the genre a couple of years ago. For some reason, or maybe culturally, I didn’t quite like the sound of it. However, when he explained the history and the movement, and made me listen to what he considered good Hip Hop, it started to ring a bell. I guess that’s all it takes, understanding, interpretation and appreciation. The music, dance and culture surrounding it, there was a connect; and thank you Dr Dre!
The point however is that music rings a bell within all of us. Regardless of the genre or language; through school and high school, it defined the ‘cool’ kids from the ‘not so cool’ kids; and made it easy for us to make friends, or connect to people who got the same music as ours. It’s as pure and simple. Listen to all, but see what touches your soul the most and let that rhythm take over.
When we grow up and real life kicks in, remember in the middle of all the complexities, the only music that will connect you to people is the one that ‘gets you’. When the heart, mind, and soul connect to the music of another being, it’s time you know what it is; accept it, treasure it and nurture it. It is stronger than any genre or lingo, because it’s pure and simple—a beat, similar to that before we learnt to speak or understand what we listened to.
(C) Ekta Marwaha
April, 23; 2015