TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Still retrograde…

A late dinner and tea with a couple of friends.

Conversations about music we used to listen to when we were kids. Humming a few lines and strumming imaginary guitars.

How Richard Marx worked for us all, lovelorn teenagers, when we wanted to say what he said so beautifully in his ballads ‘Right Here Waiting‘ and ‘Now and Forever‘. Sad that his music doesn’t make much noise. Hurt that Marx opened for Backstreet Boys concert. Happy that his music gave us so much, back then. Hazard to Angelia, Touch of Heaven till his last big hit ’till I Find You Again.

Remarked that today’s generation doesn’t know who Barry Manilow is.

Still revere artists like Madonna and Sting who have managed so well to keep their music alive and constantly evolve. Everybody cannot do it. In fact most can’t.

Admired Sting for still giving us lyrical succour and musical moksha. The ‘gentleman’ still walks the walk.

Madonna still makes the cut. Although haven’t heard or bought much of her latest works, or honestly put, don’t care much for the sound of today but she has managed to stay fresh in public memory. Rued that Michael Jackson and Madonna were to collaborate on two occasions, both of which fell through. Imagine ‘I Just Cant Stop Loving You‘ with Madonna. Instead she chooses to sing with Ricky Martin, years later. Or eat the fact how the song ‘In The Closet‘ would have looked with MJ and Madonna in place of Naomi Campbell!

Recounted Madonna’s rare TV tribute to Michael Jackson, where she spoke about how MJ and she took a long drive. She joked that with her kids who are all MJ fans, there is a lot of crotch grabbing at home! 

How MJ made a bigger country of Liberia with just one song of his –  ‘Liberian Girl‘. How I miss MJ still not being around.

Discussed how fresh some songs sound till today. It is amazing, how one can listen to ‘Human Nature’ over and over again. No wonder that, that song was the first black American song to be aired on MTV. And MTV never remained the same again, all thanks to MJ.

Agreed with my friends how contemporary English music radio stations sound the same. Grimaced at the fact that Virgin 104.4 FM plays music by artists that sound re-hashed and re-re-hashed from the same groove cycle or beat bed.

Lamented that no corporate or media conglomerate feels brave enough to start a Bollywood retro radio station. Add to that another statistical fact that when one has to sing a song or play ‘antakshari‘, 9 out of 10 songs sung are retro. There must be a reason why a Pritam doesn’t stick that well or a ‘Breakk Ke Baad’ is totally forgotten. 

Veered to how miserable R D Burman was in his last years. He was the Prince of Hindi film music and most shunned him like the plague. He was surrounded by wrong people. Opportunists. All of them. Including some very famous and respected personalities.

How beautiful would a song become when it was touched by R D Burman, Gulzar and Kishore Kumar.

Amazed at the humility of world-famous flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia when he used to sit around R D Burman’s recording studio, playing the flute and experimenting for hours on end, in the hope of getting something extraordinary. They don’t make musicians like them anymore. Recounted my experience with Pandit-ji when I interviewed him for my first radio station. And how beautiful his autograph was where he would draw a flute and scribble his name along-side.

Exchanged stories of super-talented percussionist Ustad Zakhir Hussain and how he would make different sounds using different parts of his palm on his tabla. He has immense stage presence. How he would joke with his audience and play the tabla, one hand at a time, as he would crack a couple of jokes.

How excited I was to see the radiant Pandit Ravi Shankar on his 75th birthday where he introduced his 13-year-old daughter Anushka. How wonderfully he would credit each artist. How heavenly the sitar would sound in his hand.

Sitar was also the sound that Ricky Martin used in his song ‘She’s All I Ever Had‘ and ‘Bella‘. Little do people know that Jon Secada was invited to do the backing vocals for Ricky Martin for that album and the mentioned songs.

Jon Secada is still known for ‘Just Another Day Without You‘. I love him also for ‘Break The Walls‘ and ‘Speak To The Wind‘. He is very particular about his coffee. He brews his own coffee in his spacious kitchen. Bueno!

Truth is there is nothing that can beat the melody and lyricality of the years gone by. I do shun and abhor the 90’s, specially for the Hindi film industry. That actually was signing the death deal for all melody and poetry that the years before had given to us. I wish I could bunch up songs from the yester years and get them re-mastered and digitised and then release them back to connoisseurs of pure music. 

Till that happens, I shall continue to talk about it. I will keep it alive.

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2 comments on “Still retrograde…

  1. HARI ACHARIYA
    May 12, 2011

    What do one say, when the views he had been harbouring for so many years deep down in his mind, is mirrored/put across by a talented authority in that field in such a fluid manner. Simply Nothing, except go with the flow of words & thoughts and feel the anguish. My non-existent, limited knowledge of ‘Western Music & its Artists’ do not permit me to say anything about them. However, I can certainly empathize when it comes to retro Hindi music,a forgotten heirloom passed on to next generations for its repeated abuse,mis-use & exploitation. The music greats like RD,SD,Pandit Hari Prasad,Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma etc were not only masters but also humble, down-to-earth human beings, which reflected in their timeless & ageless compositions. Unfortunately, we are living in an era of “INSTANT pleasure”, where ‘quality’ is compromised & traded for ‘quantity’. Hence, when today’s composers,producers,record companies etc pompously declare golden, platinum,titanium hit-sales on the very next day of music release, I often rue how quickly the degeneration & deterioration have set in. Hope this phase or cycle passes over quickly.
    NOTE: Not long ago, a few years back, a retro-FM station named ‘PULSE’ was operating, in which, yours truly graced the air-waves as a RJ….for the brief period it was on air, hearing that FM station was truly bliss (reminding me of the yester-years when Vividh Bharati,Bela ki Phool, Jaymala etc ruled my music world). And like all good things,PULSE ration station came to an end abruptly.

  2. Dev J Haldar
    May 12, 2011

    Hari, thank you for your kind words. Means a lot. And I understand the anguish. I feel that we must rise or walk away from the ‘awesome’ generation and hold on to the legacy that makes us what we are.
    Shubha Mudgal once told me something, when I was in school. She said that true knowledge always gives you a glow that comes from humility. I am a traveller on the quest of that knowledge.

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