This is not going to be about how good an album Kadal is, or how Rahman’s doing a great job of importing blues and gospel to our shores. This album may not rank among his absolute best, but it is certainly very good. More importantly in the context of his recent collaborations with Mani Ratnam, melodious — his work in Raavanan or Guru or Yuva, while undoubtedly good, did not burrow its way into my head and refuse to leave.
My reason for writing this post is more personal. For a long time, especially back when I was a grad student, I related to songs like Barney Stinson related to women — I couldn’t pass a good one by without wanting to pick it up.
Then the urge sort of died down. I have no idea why, really. I could say something like, “Oh, real life got in the way.” Truth is, real life didn’t get in the way of anything I absolutely wanted to do. I just didn’t feel like singing. My skills, such as there were to begin with, have been slowly diminishing. So now I don’t sing too well, but I still remember enough to realize it, which makes it even more difficult to sing without wincing.
But over the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to Anbin Vaasalae and Adiye and desperately wanting to learn how to sing them right. Okay, given how important the backing vocals are to these songs, if I were to belt them out solo while driving to work, nobody will want to carpool with me for sure. And since, like I said, I know how badly I sing now, I’m gonna have to pull out my shruti box, get started with sarali varisai again and get to the point where, when I sing a note, it doesn’t sound like a probability distribution around that frequency.
Still, this need has not made its presence felt with such urgency in God alone knows how long. And for that, A. R. Rahman, I am thankful.