Once a friend, teasing me to no end, speculated that on my death bed I’d be surrounded by books (that I published or my writings just bounded like a B.Tech project thesis) and I’d die gazing at them with (or without) smug satisfaction. A few months later, Covid19 arrived and though I was in a safe zone for most part, death anxieties were common.
It is in those anxious nights that I discovered my writings (or even readings) wouldn’t feature anywhere in the pre-death memory rush. My mind’s eyes would only show me the mountains, the gigantic and seductive rocks of Himalayas. Occasionally, beaches I’d been to. Then, the music and dance shows I’d attended. Not the exact ragas or thumris, but more like the ambience of that evening, the mesmerizing moments. For over two years of strict (self-imposed) lockdown, the only thing I yearned for were these.
Only when Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma passed away earlier this month, I started wondering why this blog never had a category “Music”. My usual reasoning is that I don’t know ANYTHING about music, least about classical music, so what would I write? Also, music and poetry are something to internalize, to surrender, and not to talk about. What little I can amuse about these events I share on my social media. What else is left?
I don’t know. But attending Guitar Prasanna’s event last weekend, a live musical event after a gap of 2.5 years, I was also overwhelmed for reasons other than music. That I’m specially blessed to be part of these. That my senses treat me to such exhilarating experiences. That these moments are not common enough to take them for granted. For all I know, I may attend another concert or never again in life. Who can guarantee?
Yes, I won’t be able to write Prasanna’s genius with Guitar or how incredible the rest of the band was. But I can share some moments. Like, I now never want to forget that “31” was titled “31” because there are 31 flavours of ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Or that, Prasanna did some incredible compositions even as a student at IIT-M. That, Shyam and he are friends for close to 30 years! Or the set list he played for us:
- Maha Ganapathim – Muthuswamy Dikshitar
- Peaceful – Prasanna (from ‘Peaceful’)
- Satyam – Prasanna (from ‘Be the Change’)
- Blues for Saraswathi – Prasanna
- Ode to Kubla Khan – Prasanna
- Garuda – Prasanna (from ‘Ragabop Trio’)
- Pot Belly Blues – Prasanna (from ‘Electric Ganesha Land’)
- Kalyani Connection – Prasanna (from ‘Be the Change’)
- Ta ka ta ki ta Blues – Prasanna (from ‘Be the Change’)
- Illayaraja solo guitar medley – D min (Kannan Vandu Padugiran+Mandram Vantha+Putham Pithu Kaalai+Oh Butterfly) C min (Raja Raja Chozan)
- 31 – Prasanna (from ‘All Terrain Guitar’)
- Encore – Bowling for Peace – Prasanna (from Electric Ganesha Land) – Dedicated to the memory of Prapancham Ravindran
Compared to his concert in 2018 at the same venue, there was very little of Raja. Despite repeated requests from the audience, he didn’t concur. Not complaining, but Raja on Prasanna’s guitar is an altogether different joy.
I’d like to end this post with his medley of SPB’s 125 songs. As he says, may music comfort us.