It’s only words

It’s true, the music I usually love is all about the beats. The groove. The snappy-sassy-pantsy-ness of it that makes me get up and do a small jig around the place. But some times, just some times its about melody.


Who am I kidding. Most times its about the melody. The stickiest music is usually equal parts soulful tunes and equal parts rhythm, I’d say. And the words? Words don’t matter all the time.

Like when you’re about to dismiss a whole episode of a spanking new season of a largely shitty show, based on one or two tracks that you heard. And in the nick of time you decide to pause and listen to a Tamil track. The one you’d probably not pick instinctively, because you don’t understand the words, right?

But I listened to this one. And then something made me listen to it again. And again. And again. Until I realised I couldn’t stop. Pretty soon it was on loop. On my phone. In my car. On my laptop. On my music player.

I’ve been listening to it every where. While roaming around the house, going about my life. It’s blaring off dinky speakers in my kitchen as I cook. It’s plugged into my ears when I’m reading myself to sleep. It’s on loop in the car, where ever I go. It’s on all the time on my laptop, as I work, browse, write.

I paused for a moment when I had a passing thought this morning. Maybe my neighbours think I’m crazy? Or maybe they would have huge issues being subjected to the same song, in an indecipherable language, approx 37642 times over a few days. But I brushed it aside. And then I hit play again.

Because it’s just that mellow and smooth. The words glide effortlessly from note to note. The band is glued in tight. The song comes together like a power-packed punch that slams itself into my gut. Touching a chord I didn’t know it could. And just like that the song speaks to me. It says something. It makes me feel something, does something to me. All without understanding a single word that’s being uttered.

Really, words don’t matter, I told myself. This is all music. All melody.

But just out of curiosity, I googled the poem, looked up the lyrics and a translation. Then I died a little, and when I hit play again, the next punch came harder still and it continues to hit me, in waves, every time the song repeats. It’s just words, but it took the song from 100 to infinity on my imaginary scale of song-stickiness.

Music has that incredible capacity to touch you and move you, no matter what language it is in. No matter whether you know what the words say. Music speaks and some times that’s all that matters.

Most times, that’s all that matters.

This is all music. All melody. Except, there is this little added nuance. The words. Only words. Except, I now know what they mean.

17 thoughts on “It’s only words

  1. I have always been a sucker for lyrics. I think the tune doesn’t matter to me as long as I can connect with the words. Some of my favorites – simply for the evocative lyrics include – “Maula Maula” from Delhi 6, “Vidai kudu engal naade” from Kannathil mutthamittal, “Maayeri main kaa se kahoon” from Dastak, “Naina” from Omkara, “Ab mujhe koi” from Ishqiya. It helps that these songs have kickass music but even if they didn’t, they’d make it to my list of favorites simply because the words are so powerful.


    1. Thats so interesting! A lot d my favourites are in there too. But for both the lyrics and the music. I think the last song that got under my skin instantly for sheer poetry was dil to baccha hai ji. Just so beautiful.


  2. Dear R, I look forward to your posts on music. Somehow I imagine these songs, the melody – how wonderful they must be. I have lost my hearing, almost, since the past few years and had to give up on something I love. Listening to music. So you can imagine the relief your posts bring…Thanks for putting music to words with your wonderful posts. Do continue enjoying the melodies :)


  3. I am a melody girl but love beautiful, non-corny lyrics too. Certain lines in songs resonate deeply with me and I find them running through my head at random times.
    PS. I was wondering why you were so quiet the past few weeks and only realised today that I had accidentally ‘unfolllowed’ this blog. Oh well, the nice thing is now I have a backlog of your lovely words to read :-)


  4. Nisha

    I loved both these songs too .. I bawled like a baby when I heard naan yen (no translation problems for me lol) … Have you heard the other stuff on coke studio?… I am not impressed at all. Lots of obligatory remixes that’s all .. Like mixing those beautiful vocals of bhanwari devi with hard kaur. It was unnecessary….


    1. I didnt even bother with this season of coke studio. Combination of having lost faith with the first two seasons and no tv. But a friend made me listen to this episode and even that left me rather meh except for naan yen and soz o salaam. I made the mistake of checking out the next episode. And i wish there was a way to erase it from my memory. My biggest issue with coke studio india is over instrumentation and unnecessary circus. It just makes everything chaotic and so easy to forget. And hard kaur was just one gimmicky touch we could have done wihout!


  5. This and Zariya have been on loop for me as well. Sometimes it is so moving, so powerful, so addictive that even after listening to it for like 7 times, I still have tears and goosebumps in the train. – Yeah, I get those stares from people around when a girl with a Kindle and earphones is suddenly teary-
    But then I cannot stop it. Not when it is gliding so smoothly and so effortlessly – the music and the tears.


    1. Yeah. That feeling. Ditto. I didnt however find zariya impressive at all :( i tried but it was just too chaotic for me. Cant seem to digest the fact that ARR composed it. It just doesnt fit. Sigh


      1. Oh…. it does seem like different worlds together but I loved the chorus and when I listened to it like a couple of times, it started blending well for me. A couple of other songs liek jagao by ARR didn’t work that magic for me. Not yet, atleast!


        1. Absolutelt Nothing else apart from these two tracks on the episode impressed me actually. I was disappointed and sad after listenin to zariya and jagao, ad would have almost not listened to these two either. But thank god i did :)


  6. I so get that, like time infinity. One of my all time favourite songs is Aisha (of which I don’t understand a word) and another is Drops of Jupiter (which has the weirdest lyrics, which make total sense to me!). Anyway, that A.R. Rahman song has been in my head for the last two days and it’s gorgeous, much like the love song in Roja.
    Oh! congrats on your blog award :-)


  7. I fully agree with you here! To me, melody is all that makes a song worth listening to! I can love rock songs, pop songs, classical songs, jazz songs, anything as long as they are melodious!

    And talking of melody, I hope you’ve heard the Canon In D Major! Do right now, if you haven’t already! :D


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