Do you ever listen to a song and remember exactly what life was like when you first heard it?
“You don’t have good taste when it comes to music,” he says.
“I don’t have a good taste when it comes to anything,” I reply, looking pointedly at him.
But I wonder now why do we judge each other over the choice of their music. My playlist is weird. I have the trashiest of songs on it, and the most soulful ones. And there are songs that I don’t want to listen to because it hurts a little too much. There are songs I want to listen to – because it takes away the pain for some time. Some songs I keep listening to on loop because it reminds me of the times gone by. Incidents that have now become merely memories, that stays right below the surface of my consciousness.
My childhood is collection of every Beatles song, ABBA songs, Simon and Garfunkel, John Denver and whatever other cassettes were lying around the house that was played in our old tape recorder punctuated with nursery rhymes and stray Dutch songs that my father would hum as I drifted off to an uneasy slumber at night. Songs from the 90s that my sister would play in the tape recorder as she sat at the table and went through her Maths homework, and I would look at her in awe. I would wonder how one balanced the music with the complexities of Maths! She must be some kind of a genius. Because I would never be able to listen to music while I did Maths growing up – I would need my full concentration. Maybe even more!
She was gifted a walkman a few years later. So my source of music was cut off. All I had was the radio and the music they would play. I couldn’t discover new music on my own because our television time was limited and I preferred watching cartoons to anything else in any case. My source of music became my school’s Assembly where I swear they taught us songs in almost every language known to man.
It was when I discovered YouTube that I once again started listening to music again. I started off with the songs that I already knew. Then branched off into songs that I found on my own – and I slowly began to understand that the peppier and happier my playlist grew, the sadder I grew inside. I couldn’t listen to really emotional music without dissolving into tears. So the best thing was to just fool myself into believing that I was happier than I thought possible.
There are songs now that I cannot listen to without thinking about something or another. I know I can never listen to Simon and Garfunkel ever again without remembering that one night in an alien city, sitting next a friend and feeling lonelier than I ever had in over a decade. I know I can never listen to Mon Re from Lootera, without the image of a beautiful women in gold and periwinkle blue, sitting atop a high chair, swinging her legs and completely lost in the music. I know I can never hum Annie’s Song without remembering that was the song I had planned on once singing to the guy I’d decide to spend the rest of my life with. But those plans fell short of course.
I know the words of the song my sister made me listen to and promised me that I’d dedicate it to whoever I finally end up with. I know which songs to play loudly when I understand that my mother has been missing my sister, which songs in particular reminder her of the girl who used to live with us and burst into song every now and then. And how she kept trying to make me sing along with her and how stubbornly I refused. I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I write. That is who I am.
Speaking of dancing – every Pujo I am reminded painfully that not only I don’t dance, I cannot dance. Until I am in the company of my friends, then we end up dancing with reckless abandon. It’s hard to avoid the intoxicating energy during Pujos, and especially when it’s your best friends. And I remember all our slumber parties and singing songs that we love. Both seriously and in jest, because even though we will forget a lot of things, we won’t forget the night outs and the night ins. And the songs that we shared with one another, songs that eventually found their way into my playlist.
I hear Adam Young talk about his dad being his superhero and I get super jealous. Because I cannot connect with this feeling, I want someone to write about their mother being their superhero! I would connect with that better. I can hear Echosmith talk about the Cool Kids and I realize I was the same all through school – wondering why and how others found it so easy to blend in!
I have always loved listening to words more than I have liked listening to beat, the music and everything else. I like the lyrics maybe because I can connect to the words more. But sometimes a stray song here and there gets branded in my memory forever. And I know I can never hear it again without recalling every single detail of that time.
I will find songs that sing of hope, that make you want to believe in something. I don’t exactly know what. I will keep playing those annoying peppy tracks on loop because it helps me realize where I am today. I will find songs that others cannot connect with because honestly? It doesn’t matter. People always leave. The only thing I will be left with is a heart full of love and a playlist that makes no sense to anyone! It breaks my heart a little now, when I remember half the songs that I shared with other people. They’re not special anymore. Maybe I shared the song with the wrong people?
And suddenly I remember that night when I was unable to sleep and on a wild Google search, I ended up finding a beautiful song by The Band Perry called If I Die Young and I realize something...it’s funny when you’re dead how people start listening...