I was thinking what could be a good topic to write this evening. So, I thought why shouldn’t I venture into music? I was suddenly excited and many things started coming into my mind. Today, I will be writing about the different ways that have cropped up to listen to music all throughout my life. Quite predictably, the only thing that remained constant is the song. Sigh!
I can also boast of belonging to a generation that has seen the most changes in terms of the evolution of technology. So, as I look back, there has been a myriad of ways through which I have really listened to my fad called music. It has been a constant in life right from the very beginning. So hop on, it is gonna be a ride.
The record player that was there in the room where I gained consciousness was actually older than me. It was a small record player. Some Vinyl records used to be there. It used to be bigger in size and remains the biggest of all that I have seen so far. It was a time when a cassette player had arrived and the whole family had shifted to listening to it. The old gramophone was like a showcase but sometimes I insisted and listened to songs on it as well. Mostly, the records were of movies from the late ’70s and early ’80s.
As I have already mentioned, the cassette player was already there in the room. I listened to songs on it till the late 80s. It was a BPL-Sanyo cassette player and had a very crisp output. It was the one on which my interest of song actually grew. One late evening somewhere in 1982-83, the songs of Disco Dancer were playing. The movie was released in 1982. I had an impromptu dance, as natural as it can get. It was an album by the maverick Bappi Lahiri. The pop had arrived in India. Mithun Chakraborty had great success with Disco Dancer. He rode on the success and did many such similar movies afterward till the end of the decade, although, they were not like the Disco Dancer.
In the 90’s, there was this Philips cassette player in my grandfather’s room, on which I listened to songs. I would find my favourite corner of the house and plug in the player. I would listen to the songs on it. The early ’90s was eventually a decade when the melody made a resounding comeback. All the music composers were doing only the melody. Baaghi, Aashiqui, Saajan, Rang, Darr, Deewana, Ham Aapke Hain Kaun, and all the other albums that you could think of, they all had melodious songs. The composers who were raving the music followers were Nadeem-Shravan and Anand Milind. Every other album would be of any of the two.
In the mid ’90s through the end of it, melody continued to rule the roost. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Pardes, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – They all had oodles of melodious songs. The cassette player remained to be the companion. A glimpse of the cassette shelf drives so much nostalgia.
The ’90s were also the time when people actually started to listen to music on TV. The emergence of Cable networks and the proliferation of music channels including the trendsetter MTV and Channel V was seen in the ’90s. It exposed us to many genres of songs. We could listen to what would be on Charts in the West as well. Incidentally, Fatboy Slim’s Right Here Right Now attracted me a lot as I heard it on Channel V for the first time.
Zee TV’s Philips Top 10 was a very sought-after show for me. At the end of the decade, there were many channels on which you could listen to music. A channel EL TV was the one which played songs too often. I was exposed to videos of old songs. Incidentally, I froze at my position listening to the beautiful song – Tera Mera Pyar Amar – featuring Dev Anand and Sadhna. I was mesmerised and wondered how melodious the songs were from the era that had gone by. I still watch songs on TV.
As I moved to the capital city of the state in the late ’90s, it was the time when the likes of Sony, Panasonic, and AIWA had made their way into the market. I had a great curiosity and would often visit the shops to do a recce and would be just surprised by the quality of audio which was hitherto unknown to me. I persuaded my father to buy one. We had this Sony CD/Cassette Player at home. The CDs would be costly. I would cut all the other expenses, even on my clothes, and would always try to save money for CDs. I can recall, the Taal CD had come in 300 bucks at Music World in Park Street of Kolkata. The Sonu Nigam’s masterwork Deewana CD had come for 200 bucks. At this time, I was totally obsessed with quality. Though, I could not afford every other album on CD.
As I moved out of home and came to Delhi, I started feeling a void in my life. I eventually realised that it is nothing else but the craving for songs. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham of Karan Johar released. He was riding on the stupendous success of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I arranged 1,800 bucks and bought a Sony Walkman. Suraj Hua Madham looked divine.
It was the time in Delhi that I got to know about the FM. AIR had an FM channel. From 2 am in night till 3 am, for one hour, they used to play all-time classics non-stop without a break. It used to be a motivation to be awake and study till the 2-3 am band. Again, listening to the classics during the tranquil nights would take us to cloud 9. Eventually, that time, FM was privatised and it was everywhere. Even the local buses that you took in the metropolitan city played FM. Mirchi, and Radio City were the early birds.
My brother was joining TS Chanakya after qualifying for JEE. He decided to go for this Discman. He thought he would be a rich man. What an experience we had listening to songs on that sophisticated device. At that time, I had a PC and I had started writing songs on blank CDs. A whole new dimension had opened with the advent of the PC.
PC with 2.1 Speaker
A whole new paradigm shift in listening to songs was witnessed with the arrival of PCs. The technician would just paste almost everything good that Bollywood had produced to date on the hard drive and here you go. You had to just navigate the folders on the drives and choose your favourite songs and play. The whole of Bryan Adams was in one folder. Listening to songs had become easier and cheaper. I would create my own playlist and write them on blank CDs. This Saregama Caravan ad reminds me of the times when I would carry the CDs written by me of classical songs of the Golden Era for home when I went there on holidays. Everyone would be surprised how could I had the access to these goldmines.
I was in Pune when Apple was making news with the latest innovation of iPods. You just had to store your favourite playlist and play. My friend this relatively cheaper pod, not of Apple. Those were the student days. We travelled to Goa with one bud in my ear and one in his’ with Chicane playing. No Ordinary Morning had made me numb. We heard the Indian Ocean as well.
Ever since, the way of listening to music has graduated to smartphones, I think music itself has gained popularity. It is so easy now to listen to music. You need an earphone and you can hear whatever you want. Now these earphones have become a necessity. There is no one today without the smartphone and the earphone. YouTube is also a revolution and my abode. What is not there? I think everything. What to say more – It is the present and everyone is well abreast and living this life.
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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi