The minute the kids got into the car half sleepy at 5am in the morning, ready for the 7-hour road trip ahead, they knew what was coming next. Their dad started the car and then played the first song that he always played when they started out on long drives. The familiar voice of MS. Subbalakshmi emanated from the speaker chanting Venkatesha Suprabhatam . They resigned themselves to listening to it, silencing their inner groans , closing their eyes tight hoping to somehow magically shut off the sound as well. Well, it is a tradition. Deal with it. Who knows, maybe when the kids take their kids on a road trip, they would play this too, just to reminisce even if not for religious reasons.
Road trips in our house automatically become a play list warzone. The adults want Ilayaraja and AR Rahman and the kids want death metal and Rihanna. The easiest thing would be for everyone to wear individual headphones and let peace reign. But what’s the fun in that ! So we pick a democratic process. Everybody gets to choose one song and then wait for their turn. So it becomes a loop of Ilayaraja, AR Rahman, Arianna Grande, Slip Knot screaming..okok.. music and sometimes we play Drake just so that we can mock him and sing along with the ridiculous lyrics- God’s plan . So as we try to slip in some desi music into their playlist( and a few HAVE made their way into their playlist), we also learn a few new genres and try to keep an open mind as my son waxes eloquent about how hard it is to practice the death metal scream and throws in a demonstration to boot.
Music… one man’s food, another man’s poison.. one man’s trash, another man’s treasure. And just as we are sometimes resistant to try a strange cuisine, we are also resistant to sounds alien to us. Every generation is convinced that the music of “their” generation is the greatest ever. Ultimately, I guess it all just boils down to nostalgia. After a point we tend to only appreciate what we are already familiar with and cling desperately to the comfort zone of the familiar sounds. I was listening to Boney M on Spotify yesterday and I felt a mix of emotions. I felt happy because it brought with it a rush of nostalgia and a throwback to my childhood when I used to spend hours singing along until I knew all the lyrics by heart even though, I realize now, I had been clueless about what they really meant. And OMG some of those lyrics are really “cringe”(Lingo imported from my kids). But I also thought, wow… we have really listened to some stupid songs and thought they were really good
Today, as my son practices ‘Maha Ganapatim’ on his electric guitar just to present it to his grandfather, I see music can work both ways. It can make way for bonding between generations, or it can become a point of intolerance where each clings to his own “best music” and shuts out the other. Much like many of our opinionated views on religion, politics and social issues. So maybe we should force ourselves to actually LISTEN to another kind of “music” every now and then- it might broaden our palate of appreciation… for all things