Today Songs of Yore completes one year, and like any new born in its first year, it has looked at the beautiful world of old Hindi film music with wonder and amazement, flitting its gaze from one beautiful sight to another spontaneously and randomly.
My articles so far have been on themes which were on top of my recall and on features I found most interesting.
This gave rise to two articles on two important watershed years heralding a new era, emergence of new stars and new style of film music – one in the backdrop of 1949 Lata Mangeshkar versus Noorjehan and the other on 1969 Mohammad Rafi versus Kishore Kumar. Twin Songs always puzzled me. Chitragupta was my special favourite for his extremely melodious songs, yet he remained outside the big league. Similarly some more articles came off without any particular structure or deliberation. If some pattern emerged at places it came about without prior planning. For example, Kamal Barot was followed by some more niche singers such as Subir Sen and Jagjit Kaur.
Now that Songs of Yore has acquired some form and shape, in future I visualise a number of themes which would require some planned series. The Golden Era (1950s and 60s) abounds in a number of composers who shone like a comet fleetingly, gave some immortal songs, usually in obscure and grade B films, and vanished. Not much is known about them, except the few songs which would remain immortal. I plan to write about them in a general broad category Forgotten Composers, Unforgettable Melodies. I have enormous fascination for Vintage Era (1930s and 40s). The songs of this era are generally more obscure and you do not get to hear them as a casual listener. Moreover, I have heard many knowledgeable listeners expressing some mental block in relating to music of that period. The vintage songs are indeed very different, some reflecting the theatrical and artificial style of acting and dialogue delivery of the period, some reflecting pure classical tradition. But once they grow on you, you can never have enough of them. They are a very important part of our legacy. I plan to write about that period in a more systematic manner than one needs for 50s and 60s. I also plan to write on special days like birth and death anniversaries of important personalities as I did for Pankaj Mullick.
If the above conveys an image of a serious blogger, nothing can be farther from truth. Blogging was never on my horizon for various reasons. For one, I always felt blogging belongs to a person who is an expert on a theme. I am not one. At best I am a passionate and, perhaps, an informed listener. Secondly, there was a natural inhibition – music is a deeply personal matter; I would not feel comfortable to mention before a stranger that a particular song brings tears to my eyes – that song may not mean anything to him.
The anonymity provided by the internet has enabled me to express feelings and emotions which would have remained deeply inside me. And what a wonderful journey it has been! I have reconnected to the beautiful songs which were deep inside me and which I had thought I would never be able to listen to again. I have also discovered many new gems. But most importantly, I have met on the blog many readers who relate to my kind of music and even particular songs in an identical manner, and enrich me with their comments and information.
Some more acknowledgments are due:
1. Internet in general, You Tube in particular and all the unknown good Samaritans, who have selflessly put information, songs, videos in public domain.
2. http://indianscreen.com/. They have, according to me, the most amazing collection of rare vintage songs (audio). Their display is, however, like a museum, where only a part of the collection in vaults is put up for display. The site does not give any system of accessing their archive, so you need to visit it every two weeks or so.
3. Hindi Film Geet Kosh by Harmandir Singh ‘Humraaz’. He needs no introduction to music lovers. His work of compilation of songs with their references (films, year, directors, actors, singers, lyricists, music directors) is a life-time endeavour and simply awesome.
4. Dhunon Ki Yatra by Pankaj Raag. A comprehensive survey of music from 1930s music director-wise. A very useful reference source.