It was world music day recently, and Pankaja Srinivasan remembers some old favourites that she grew up with
Have you heard Bono and The Corrs sing Summer Wine (originally sung by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood)? Oh please do. It is lovely. My friends and I would never tire of singing it in the 70s.
When I told my daughter about this song, I was outraged that she had never heard of it. So, I played her the Bono version and rattled off my other favourites… Yesterday Once More, Once Upon A Time there was a Tavern, L.A. International Airport…
That set off a string of recollected melodies which my daughter then played to me on her smartphone. And that is how I ended up cooking a killer morukuzhambu thanks mainly to Elvis and the Jailhouse Rock. Now, every morning as I contemplate my cooker, I do so with a smile rather than a scowl as Harry Belafonte, Kenny Rogers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, Doris Day, and Edith Piaf join me and we have a party, right there.
My friend Devarati had the latest LPs courtesy her sister who lived in the U.K. I particularly remember the bright red sleeve with Richard and Karen Carpenter on it. It was a double album called Yesterday Once More. It had all the lyrics printed on the inside cover. We soon knew them by heart and sung our lungs out.
And Simon and Garfunkel, believe it or not, entered our lives in a moral science class! The dashing young Ms Sheela Masilamani became our hero the day she walked in with a two-in-one, put on Sound of Silence and then asked us what we made of the song. Unthinkable, in a convent where pop music was the devil’s work. Once, some of us wore black armbands to school as someone told us (wrongly, as it turned out) that Neil Diamond was dead. We were roundly ticked off by the nuns. Yet, Sister Augustina waltzed around the music room when a pig-tailed chorus sang the Blue Danube!
Evergreen Tree, Lemon Tree, Jamaica Farewell, When the Saints go Marching in…(there is a wonderful YouTube clipping of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kay singing this together). Ah, the raspy, velvet voice of Louis Armstrong singing Dream a Little Dream … I mean, have you heard another with a voice like that? We would coax and cajole our music teacher in school to play the popular songs of the time. Where Do I Begin from the film Love Story was one of them (we knew the dialogues of the movie by heart, and all of us were in love with Ryan O Neal). Where Do I Begin has been sung again and again by the likes of Shirley Bassey, Barry Manilow, Andy Williams and then some more.
My 13th birthday gift from my parents was a turntable (Before that, it was Band Box on the radio). So, most of my friends gifted me records. Osibisa, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Cliff Richards, Belafonte, Cat Stevens, The Doors, Deep Purple, Slade, Bob Dylan…And sleepovers with friends at home were never complete without dancing to the Beatles (I saw her standing there from their Please Please Me album). Kenny Rogers came a little late into my life, but he is going to be there forever. I first heard him in the early 80s for the first time and he still reduces me to mush.
It was world music day recently, and, as my daughter played me my old favourites from the 60s, 70s and the 80s, I sang along, just like before…