Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 65 years old. It’s amazing how many of my memories of him are attached to music. And there is so much music knowledge that I have gained because of him.
My dad was a musician himself in his 20s. He had his own band in the glorious heydays of Calcutta and was a huge Beatles fan. I have pictures of him with the Beatle haircut.
One of my early memories of him is a Beatles memory. I was in school and I had had chicken pox. It was very painful as we all know. So one night, I couldn’t sleep and was in agony. My dad came to my bedside and picked up his guitar and played Golden Slumbers for me. And a few years later, when I began to discover the Beatles on my own, the line, ..and I will sing a lullabye.. had a special emotional resonance for me. It still does.
On my own
I remember one afternoon, I had got back from school and my dad was all excited about this new song he had heard and wanted to play it for me. I was very much into Hindi film music at that time, my grandmother being Amitabh Bachchan fans. So my dad pulled out this cassette and played Bohemian rhapsody for me. I was very intrigued with the song as it was so unconventional compared to anything I was hearing at that time.
As time went on, post my induction into the Michael Jackson and breakdancing mania, my dad would periodically keep buying me cassettes of music that he felt I should be hearing as I kept veering towards 80’s pop.
So while I was dancing to Madonna, dad would play me Joni Mitchell. While I was blasting Guns ‘N’ Roses, I was also playing Led Zeppelin. And as I was discovering Bruce Springsteen, dad would educate me on Bob Dylan.
And upon seeing my appetite for music discovery growing voraciously, the few music magazines that existed before the start of the internet, would find its way to me, courtesy Dad. So Sun magazine, Upbeat, Jetset, Connect, were a large part of my knowledge cultivation as I was growing up.
My cassette collection also began to grow manifold, because dad had many friends who would travel abroad and bring back the newest music for him. At one point I had over 500 tapes! I still have a few score left.
On birthdays, the only gift for me was the latest music albums. So I would get everything from Motley Crue to George Benson to Leonard Cohen to Ella Fitzgerald to Stevie Wonder!
Later, in my teenage years, when I was part of my first band, I would ask my dad to work out songs for me on the guitar and teach them to me. I remember asking him to work out With or without you for me, and getting so frustrated with the (simple) chords, that I said “You play, I’ll sing!”.
And today, although it has been many years since he has passed away, there are no songs that I associate with his passing. I only have music memories of him that are alive and vibrant. And personally, that’s how I like to remember everything…if may say so.