Love, the key to living a fulfilling life, the path that leads to the real you, this emotion called love is universal and free.
An enigmatic thing, love is everywhere – in and around you and me, in our blue planet’s core, it is the main component of every heavenly body and the equally mysterious dark matter. Why else must the dark matter be dark if not for love?
Love – the power that knows the art of giving only too well, that takes pleasure in calmness, that patiently and leisurely creates, that also manoeuvres without light, that is fathomless – humbly colours the dark matter dark.
Who ventures in the unknown, hoping to pierce through the darkness like a sharp arrow, in a speed that surpasses the twang of its bow?
One who is courageous enough to Love.
Landing back on earth, let us see how Regina Spektor has perceived Love and what rhythm has she given to her definitions of Love.
Listen to ‘Blue Lips’ –
He stumbled into faith and thought “God, this is all There is” The pictures in his mind arose And began To breathe And all the gods in all the worlds Began colliding on a backdrop of blue
Blue lips Blue veins
He took a step But then felt tired He said, “I’ll rest A little while” But when he tried To walk again He wasn’t A child And all the people hurried past Real fast and no one ever smiled
Blue lips Blue veins Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away…
No one said that it will not hurt, that there will not be any sacrifices, that we will not forget and misconstrue, no one said Loving is easy and so we failed, repeatedly we failed.
But why lament when we can try again?
As humans, all we need to fully revel in Love is our ability to breathe and our home planet that looks blue from far, far away.
Regina Spektor believes in Love and Loves our beautiful blue planet; it is evident in her songs.
Listen to ‘Eet’ –
It’s like forgetting The words to your favorite song You can’t believe it You were always singing along It was so easy And the words so sweet You can’t remember You try to feel a beat eeet eeeet eeet…
‘Eet’ is a backspace key that you find on typewriters that allows you to type over the previous letter if you make a mistake.
Mistakes and life, life and mistakes, go well together if you are truly in love (no matter with whom/what). Even if you stumble, forget or lose, you will still try, sooner or later, for love will not allow you to rest.
It is strangely powerful, this emotion; it attacks with a strong gust of memories and then waits, it tickles with happy thoughts and then waits… waiting as if it knows it will win in the end.
If you ever think of using the ‘eet’ key, do try the Regina Spektor way of editing – turn the mistakes into musical notes.
Listen to ‘Better’ –
If I kiss you where it’s sore If I kiss you where it’s sore Will you feel better, better, better? Will you feel anything at all?
Born like sisters to this world In a town blood ties are only blood If you never say your name out loud to anyone They can never ever call you by it
If I kiss you where it’s sore If I kiss you where it’s sore Will you feel better, better, better? Will you feel anything at all?
Just like opening an old album, with slightly tattered and folded edges, we are greeted with some golden memories – happy and sweet and sad; sad because we cannot travel back to meet the ones we have lost.
And yet we go on, asking hypothetical questions, somehow reliving the moment mentally, grasping the answer that we know will work, at least for now.
Just like opening an old album, ‘Better’ by Regina Spektor gives us such a feeling.
Listen to ‘How’ –
Time can come and wash away the pain But I just want my mind to stay the same To hear your voice To see your face There’s not one moment I’d erase You are a guest here now
So baby, how Can I forget your love? How can I never see you again?
One always remembers sad endings and unanswered questions, but why?
So that one keeps walking, searching and living more sensitively… maybe.
Coming soon – Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV
Our shadowy past lives, though hidden in the fog, it lives, and we live off it.
Ancient cities now archaeological sites, history books, paintings, literature, music and ideas remind us of the assured presence of antiquity, our link with what was the truth back then.
Like the tail of a shooting star, our past/ the antiquity makes an equally good show in the darkness, at times even a grand show.
Like a terrific shaman, the past predicts when approached with a true question and predicts without any regret.
Come, let us see, what it predicted when Regina Spektor approached it with some melodious queries.
Listen to “All The Rowboats” before reading further –
…First there’s lights out, then there’s lock-up Masterpieces serving maximum sentences It’s their own fault for being timeless There’s a price to pay and a consequence All the galleries, the museums Here’s your ticket, welcome to the tombs They’re just public mausoleums The living dead fill every room
But the most special are the most lonely God, I pity the violins In glass coffins they keep coughing They’ve forgotten, forgotten how to sing…
It seems the antiquity, through this song, shared a message for all those who are listening, which is that the past is not static, so no point in decorating and forgetting it; no point in generalising it and awarding it with a damp stamp.
Feel free to interpret it; relive the change.
Listen to “Samson” –
Samson went back to bed Not much hair left on his head He ate a slice of Wonder Bread And went right back to bed And the history books forgot about us And the Bible didn’t mention us And the Bible didn’t mention us, not even once
You are my sweetest downfall…
Delilah, Samson’s lover, actually a spy, had his long hair cut one night, making him powerless; the Philistines captured Samson and tortured him brutally. Samson, blind and weak, still destroyed his enemies by magically regaining his strength. He died along with his enemies after he collapsed the temple of Dagon.
This biblical account doesn’t mention the infinite voices that made Samson, Samson and Delilah, Delilah. Culturally nourished biases have always restricted so many voices and the history books have often conveniently ignored it… until someone dares and explores and talks about the sweetest downfall.
Listen to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” –
…I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping While my guitar gently weeps I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know why nobody told you How to unfold your love I don’t know how someone controlled you They bought and sold you
I look at the world and I notice it’s turning While my guitar gently weeps With every mistake we must surely be learning Still my guitar gently weeps…
Regina Spektor covered this “Beatles” song for the film Kubo and the Two Strings (a must watch), magnifying the song’s impact so wonderfully. The antiquity becomes fully alive here; it reassures and promises the unfolding of another epic. It is pure magic!
Return in some time dear readers, and continue the tour of Regina Spektor’s musical world here at Chiming Stories.
Walking down the street with old heavy memories, frozen and hazy, not bothering for a while and the unknown liveliness of the fresh sounds greeting us from all around – the dripping thaw, the golden sunny warmth, the tiny twittering birds, the ‘oh my god’ honking of a dashing car’s ghost that passes by, the hearty smiles and laughter – we blush with hope teasing us, giving us bright ideas, gleaming as we experience our quiet, still mind-pond.
These ephemeral moments of joy, so true and innocent, are hard to capture, harder to sustain, probably that is what makes it so special for and loved by all.
Regina Spektor, the star singer, songwriter, musician, the starry-eyed star, the star magician, knows how to hold such moments very well. She doesn’t capture it, na-na, she only knits a pretty, sweet and soothing melody and then soaks it into such warm moments, letting the melody take this ephemeral colour.
To this colour, she adds free-play, emotions and her pianist-self and, voila, a Regina Spektor song wave is ready.
…And down on Lexington they’re wearing New shoes stuck to aging feet And close their eyes and open And they’ll recognize the aging street And think about how things were right When they were young and veins were tight And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past Then wont you stay the night?
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere Ne Me Quitte Pas…
She amalgamates it all so well, life’s experiences, cut both ways and so gently she allows herself to smile an honest smile. How beautifully this song captures time and lets it go.
And she loves Paris, especially when it rains there and so do we all (at least the rasiks* do).
Listen now to “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” –
…I’m walking through the city Like a drunk, but not With my slip showing a little Like a drunk, but not And I am one of your people But the cars don’t stop…
This is nothing but a memory, cold, harsh, but funny in retrospect; one that glares until you glare back at it, acceptingly. And Regina Spektor handles this mixed emotion so peacefully and at the same very eagerly, probably eager for it to evolve.
Also, listen to the live performance of “Dance Anthem of the 80’s”, how sweetly she thanks her audience.
Here, at Chiming Stories, the blogger will be covering Regina Spektor’s musical world in the coming posts, trying to live and relish her songs in your company, so dear readers ‘ne me quitte pas mon chere’ (don’t leave me, my dear).
*A rasik, in Hindi language, is a passionate and thoughtful being.
Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.
Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.
The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).
Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.
The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.
The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam
Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam…
Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai
Apne hi haath laga ja balam
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam…
(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)
This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.
*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.
*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.
One summer gleaming morning, back in the 90s, a musician woke up, looked at the world maze and its commuters when a rapturous beat filled his mind… it was a fusion, a fusion of ragga and bhangra beats… the musician knew it was the time to sweetly twist the great razzmatazz of the world maze drama.
And so Apache Indian, the British Indian singer and reggae DJ, mixing cultures, tunes and beliefs, London to India via Jamaica, created a new wave that danced its way into stiff-grumpy-busy society’s heart. His funky hybrid tracks spoke bluntly but always with the spirit to bring a change.
Staying true to its roots – the reggae music genre is known to attack social evils – Apache Indian tried to arrest some fanatic dogmas and set free our handicapped progress.
“High caste low caste, we don’t want that,
Everyone equal, let us decide that.
High caste low caste, Sanu ni chahida (we don’t want that),
Saare jaane barabar (we are all equal), Maano rab da kehna (listen to the one God).”
Caste System – Apache Indian; Album – Nuff Vibes
“Caste System”, “Arranged Marriage”, “Aids Warning”, “Election Crisis” are some tracks that talk about an era and some persistent crippling ideas, all composed in an upbeat style. The very vigorous sounds of bhangra beats give these songs a desi, identifiable and yet refreshing touch; the east and the west amalgamates beautifully.
Then the peppy catchy dance numbers like “Boom Shack-A-Lak”, “Chok There”, “Don Raja”, “Ragamuffin Girl”, “Jump Up”, and “Celebrate” call out to all the listeners to enjoy the moment.
No.1 in a the Bombay chart Indian me a tear them apart When me come me bring a new stylee So listen crowd of people and you have to follow me Chok there – them a ball when they see the Indian Chok there – raggamuffin under style and pattern Chok there – when me come that a different fashion First tune a say me do no it reach No.1 In a the reggae charts and the Indian Chok there – see me face upon the television Chok there – hear me voice pon the radio station Promotor them a come them a rub off them hand Keeping a session and them want it fe ram Chok there – put me name pon the invitation Chok there – pon the gate go raise a million Me bring a brand new style upon the Island Fe the black a fe white and a fe the Indian So each and everyone come follow fashion
Chok there – dip your knee cork out you bottom Chok there – everyone in a the Bhangra fashion Nuff DJ them a have a fe them own stylee Some a wa da dong deng same a come follar me And some a them a say Oh Lord a mercy Pnumina ick pnumina do and also in a three But anytime me came me bring a brand stylee So listen crowd of people and you have to follow me…
Chok There; Songwriters: Simon Duggal, Diamond Duggal, Steven Kapur aka Apache Indian; Album – No Reservations
Experimenting freely and successfully, Apache Indian collaborated with many artists worldwide, from Sean Paul, Maxi Priest, Shaggy, Boy George to A. R Rahman, Asha Bhosle, Bally Sagoo, SteroNation and Jazzy B.
It was in the 90s, a summer dream that came true… not a super-sonic era, but moving towards one, grooving and listening to Apache Indian’s music… that was created with a hope, adding a little bit of this and that to ragamuffin magic, a hope to become better… a hope that is still alive.
Unabashedly bold and free, vivacious and ebullient, adamant like the silent stone, transforming every micro-second, Nature rules… and the ones living close to it celebrate and sing, enjaaee enjaami…
Flowers shining bright, the rich yellow, orange, mahogany, red and white, the bugs, caterpillars and flies, the upside-down dancing struggling beetles, the sun-soaked green leaves, together – even when captured in a glorious painting – sing enjaaee enjaami…
Whose is this land, this divided piece, this circled boundary, that 12 acres, that mango orchid, that dry-wet soil, that cool-cool well, that fragrance casting spell… certainly it doesn’t belong to the ones who toil round-the-clock and sing, enjaaee enjaami…
Festivities when unearthed by bare hands, the swaying harvest and booming lives of the lords, shacky mud-roofed huts full of laughs and cries… all sing enjaaee enjaami…
Grandmas and old voices together have knitted the folktales, passing it with pickles and homemade sweets, carrying it closer than a life lesson, breathing it day and night, walking and singing enjaaee enjaami…
Like a tree, like a giant tree, full of flowers, then fruits and seeds, then sweat and blood, patiently bowing, accepting it all… walks an old bent figure, bare feet, singing enjaaee enjaami…
Jackals, parrots, elephants, reptiles, dogs, cats, butterflies… give their share back, turn around, don’t flee… those sitting on margins know Noah and the King, then who will ultimately sink? I sing enjaaee enjaami…
The fiery soul that burns itself, weeding the flower bed and burning the dead, it runs the life, it spins the earth, decorating the darkness, breathing lightly it sings enjaaee enjaami…
So how can you forget, threaten, betray, walk astray…? Come, not in repentance but acceptance for then your blinded eyes will see the majestic drama, lament if you must, cry and shed it before you sing enjaaee enjaamee…
So listen, listen to the storyteller, the old voice-heart beats well, this beat matches your beat and look, your mind watches you sing enjaaee enjaami…
Enjoy/ Enjaaee(my dear mother/ dear lady) Enjaami (my feudal lord, master) Vango Vango Onnagi (come together to reap the bounty of nature).
This wonderfully powerful Tamil song is sung by Dhee and rapper Arivu (who has also written it); the song revolves around Tamil migrants (and labourers and all our ancestors) who toiled on lands but always remained landless and suffered due to poverty; the song emphasises on how the earth, the nature is for all living beings and not for the wealthy class/ caste.
This thought-provoking, globally popular number, asks us blatantly to check if we are hurrying in the right direction.
Sound is a sensation and a stimulus; reflected, refracted, and humbly attenuated by its medium, the sound wave propagates. Only the frequencies between 20 Hz and 20KHz comes in the hearing range of us humans.
Voices, calls, laughs, and whispers fill this range of ours, from morning to evening. We consider, approve, discard, ignore, and absorb it as and when we understand the hidden meaning.
The hidden meaning…? Yes, the message that every sound wave carries is the hidden meaning, it shapes this very understanding of ours.
And what an exuberating elusive message a melody is, a wonderful wordless story that nevertheless is discernible, more than that in fact, as it touches and soothes our heart and soul.
Bansuri, a bamboo flute, taps a tune, using wind as the source and wind as the medium, carrying the message as far as possible, resonating beyond the visible, accepting all, conquering all.
Two and a half ample octaves and the bansuri deciphers happily the message using the Sargam (solfege); a subtle and soulful tune reads it to us.
Lord Krishna, the Jamun coloured Hindu deity with a peacock-feathered crown, is always depicted with a bansuri in his hands. Various stories tell us how Krishna, the charmer, used to mesmerise the listeners, stopping the time as if to unveil the beauty of the cosmic play.
The leading character in several ancient Hindu religious, mythological and philosophical texts, Krishna plays his bansuri to win Radha’s heart, to celebrate the victory over evil, to turn impossible into possible and routinely for shepherding cows (he played a melodious tune on the bansuri and the herd of cows themselves returned to him).
Natya Shastra as well as the other Vedic texts associated art and music with the Supreme, calling it the spiritual means to rise above, concentrate on and connect to one’s consciousness, witness it and attain Moksha (enlightenment, release).
Why would one make a creative artist’s job tougher by leaving the great responsibility of enlightening the receiver on her? Let art be for art’s sake.
Right! But apart from just being true, pure art, what if say a tune played on a bansuri leaves a listener illumined, will this not add to the beauty of the melody? It absolutely will.
If it deciphers the message for the listener, showing her more than what is on the surface, by additionally doing absolutely nothing, then surely the message is intrinsic to the composition.
Wonderfully it all also depends on perception. Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight, thus, in such cases sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour, shape, and movement.
Read what the first recorded case of synesthesia was about –
“The earliest recorded case of synesthesia is attributed to the Oxford University academic and philosopher John Locke, who, in 1690, made a report about a blind man who said he experienced the colour scarlet when he heard the sound of a trumpet.”
Keep your dream light on. When bright it reveals the Narnia world, takes you to Alice’s Wonderland, and introduces you to Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz. When dim it shows you the path that no one can see in the, hah, real world…
The real world of oh so beautiful Earth, the real world of oh so enchanting colours, the real world of oh so troubled minds, the real world of oh so trapped hearts.
So keep the lantern ready and walk towards the dream light. Tip toeing the wooden floor, tap dancing on the way, gliding on the sea, swirling high in the sky, however twisted maybe your turn, the lantern will keep on glowing, it will never betray you, even when you go blind.
How to select a lantern for such a trip? Always, write it down if you want, always choose the lantern that chimes, hums and whistles, after all music fuels dream lights.
On the lonely road towards your dream you will see things that you have never seen, meet djinns and dragons, flying carpets and cars, funny friends and foes and your doppelganger for sure.
And when you fall down, when your heart breaks, close your eyes, breathe and believe, you’ll then remember to follow your dream light.
Golden, glowing and emitting exuberance, vigour and vibrancy, the dynamic, ceaseless dance of fire, the Sun has mastered the art of discipline.
It has attained absolute freedom for nothing else can explain the mystical, marvellous zeal it possesses and the pizzazz it flaunts so calmly, so brilliantly.
The Sun enthrals us wholly, it rules all life forms; in its magnificence, it conducts the solar system without a baton.
147.19 Million kilometres away from the Sun I feel its warmth, I feel home, I feel alive.
Silver cascade shimmering the night sky, music to the waves and surreal beauty to the eyes, the Moon loves the art of discipline.
It may be difficult to believe for the Moon’s splendour defies time, it stupefies the clock, it follows the path of a dreamer, but how could this be possible if the Moon knew not discipline?
Think for yourself, it never fails to heal a sad heart and rejoice with a happy soul, it never leaves one alone, it moves with the one walking, it blinks at the dreamy one, it soars with the child allowing the little hands to embrace it.
The Moon’s discipline is unique for it never minds the clouds, the rain, the darkness; it shines serenely, reigning in power and peace. Divine o divine!
What is this magic? This Universe, this miracle… it is disciplined to invite life, to hold the infinite, to make the ending light and the beginning bright.
This Universe, it sings and plays rhythms that touch every element quiet and sentient both; it is a rainbow of colours that paints with accuracy and fun alike.
The Universe runs the art of discipline, it gloriously celebrates the art of discipline, for what else are the galaxies going round and round, round and round… for why the invisible cells in a body are forming a life…
The macro and the micro worlds imbibe the Universe’s joy and freedom, which is nothing but the art of discipline.
A roguish year, 2020, I believe was a twist in our LIVE story. Terrible, oh, terrible things happened. Let us nurture hope, let us learn from our mistakes, let us help each other and contribute honestly to this change.
Let the old charm of stories work, let stories heal your tired heart.
This colossal twist proves that the great writer is planning to finish a chapter, but the story is far from over. Dawn is about to break, the sun rays will fall on a new beginning soon.
Come to Chiming Stories, pocket old and new posts and watch, along with me, the horizon.
Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on. Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
Arthdal Chronicles is a South Korean fantasy drama TV series that takes us back to the Bronze Age in a mythical land named Arth, where different human species and tribes struggle to be on the top of the power pyramid.
Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.