Monday, June 06, 2005

Song tag (not to be confused with Sontag)

I’ve been tagged. Again! By J this time, and it’s a million times harder because the key question is about five songs that mean a lot to me. This is clearly impossible to do but I’ve been tagged and it must be done; and so, again, here’s the standard disclaimer: the list will be completely different 5 minutes after I’ve finished writing it.

The easy questions first:

Total volume of music files on my computer - pretty insignificant actually; I’ve never been able to listen to music while working.

The last CD/cassette I bought was the Kisna soundtrack

Songs playing right now none

And gulp, here goes:

Five songs that mean a lot to me - am dividing this into 5 Hindi and 5 English songs (as if that’ll help!)


- “O Saathi Re” from Muqaddar ka Sikandar and “Chale the Saath Milke” from Haseena Maan Jayegi
One of the first music cassettes in my life was a collection of songs from Prakash Mehra-directed movies, and “O Saathi Re” and “Chale the Saath Milke” inspired my one serious attempt, at the age of six, to develop a singing voice of my own – with the aid of a double-deck tape recorder. As posterity will record I failed spectacularly, but these songs are still very special to me. “O Saathi Re” of course also carries associations with Amitabh at his most soulful; our most underappreciated romantic actor gazing longingly at Raakhee (and this was one time I could even put up with her shrill “Ameeeeeet!”)

- “Dil ke Jharoke mein” from Brahmachari
For the longest time I had two videocassettes featuring songs from Shammi Kapoor movies and this was my favourite of the lot. Great, vibrant track that manages to be menacing and melancholic all at once, and is forever complemented in my mind by the image of Shammi K sitting at the piano glaring daggers at Asha Parekh (I think) and Pran. And masked dancers dressed in black and white performing in the background. Awesome.

- “Katra Katra” from Ijaazat
Very difficult to explain why, but if you’ve heard the song I probably don’t have to…

- “Ae Ajnabi” from Dil Se
When Dil Se came out I preferred this quiet track to the other, more instantly catchy, radio-friendly songs like “Chaiya Chaiya”. But it became even more special when the singing star of our post-grad crowd started dedicating this song to me at each of our drunken get-togethers. Still have a very muffled version of one of those dedications recorded on my cell-phone!


Pointless, because my original idea was to include one song by each of my favourite artistes/bands but then I realised there are far more than five of those. Still:

- “Drive” by REM
If all traces of rock music from the 1990s had to be erased and I were allowed to save just one representative track, this would be it. There, I’ve said it.

- “Echoes” and “Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd
Two 20 minute-plus tracks that show Floyd as they were (and could have been) before superstardom and ego-swell swallowed them up. Nothing they did post-1971 matches the breadth and ambition of these two songs (though the middle-section of “Atom Heart Mother” is a little too radical even for my taste).

- “My October Symphony” by the Pet Shop Boys
From PSB’s elegiac, underappreciated album Behaviour, this little-heard number alludes to the Russian Revolution, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to lost love and to whatever else you like; but the real treat here is how beautifully the string arrangement works in conjunction with Neil Tennant’s mellifluous voice.

And, just one song each by Dylan and the Beatles? What a hoot! Oh, well…

- “Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan

Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet,
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it…

Enough said.

- “I am the Walrus” by The Beatles
Because of “googoojoob”. Because of the semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower. Because of the elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna. Because of Lewis Carroll and Jabberwocky. Because this song was the real Lennon in the Sky with Diamonds.

And I’m tagging:


Working Title

Mixed Bag

(Of course, anyone else I know is free to pick this up.)


  1. I find katra katra haunting, and in some ways I feel guilty on behalf of "man"kind whenever I hear it.

  2. Jai, you are a Predictable Non-Conformist. Hence the choice of "katra katra" over "mera kuchh saamaan", and one of the most remote Zimmermans.
    And "O saathi rey"? Give me a break! Didn't YOU say you liked Bemisaal?

    Me, I'm happy with Tambourine Man and Ob-la-di ...

    Btw, if you like romantic crooners, check out Jim Croce.


  3. Hey JAP,
    Good to hear from you, as always. I haven't even SEEN Bemisaal (or saw it when I was 4 and don't remember it) - but at least four people I know tell me it's Bachchan's best performance. Maybe you read one of those comments on an earlier post.

    P.S. I wouldn't have thought "Visions of Johanna" was Dylan Obscura. In fact it's one of his most highly rated lyrics, and it's a key single from his best album. But yes, if you mean that most people still think of B.D. in terms of his folk-singer days - "Blowin in the Wind", "Times they are a-changin" etc - yes, it might be remote by those standards.

  4. Johanna, seminal? Too wordy, Jai. Whereas T Man is Eliotesque in its staccato imagery.

    We should discuss this over a drink or three when I'm in your city. (Now don't tell me you're teetotal!)