I will confess first. I am a huge fanboy of AR. But I have also evolved as a fan over the years. From just being a blind fan of his music to a much more nuanced fan of the technicalities in his music (as much as I could grasp), his thought process behind his compositions, his philosophy in life and in general, AR, the human being.
To wish any icon on social media or on the internet seems like a vanity seeking attempt, especially if I don’t know him personally. But this being AR Rahman’s milestone birthday, I decided to do just that. The irony!
My interest in music, my half-baked (or quarter or 1/8 or..) knowledge notwithstanding, can be divided into 5 phases..
I grew up getting soaked in Ilayaraja’s music (and MSV’s of course). And lots of carnatic music because of family surroundings and my own learning opportunities. The truth though was that most of my listening can be summed up as ‘casual exposure’.
2) Between 1988-1994
Serious listening. May be I was beginning to grasp the nuances better. And also because I was being exposed to a new world of music called classic rock. Thanks to the time I spent in Rajasthan during this time, I was exposed to more Hindi music than ever before (which doesn’t mean much if you spent all your time in deep south Tamil Nadu like I did.. till 1990). My half-baked music learning came very handy and I start analyzing. Even dabbled with making my own music. Just dabbled.
Completely absorbed by this storm called AR Rahman. Roja brought out the curiosity but Pudhiya Mugam sealed it. I became a fanboy. I must have listened to every song from every album of AR Rahman during this time for about million times. Life changing in many ways. Suddenly, I felt like I am hearing my own inner voice in music. Even though it was only for fun, I started making my own music in a much more “complete” way. They sounded terrible. Especially the ones I created during this time. But I got a kick out of making my own music.
4) 1998 to 2008
Digital music still new. My CD collection filled my basement and my fascination for AR’s music/experimentation continued to grow multiple times during this time. Being away from the country just made the bond even stronger. Also started listening to more contemporary western music, which internally made me appreciate AR’s music even more. And my own music creations got slightly better (even if I may say so myself).
Music streaming has completely changed the way I listen to music these days. Good or bad I don’t know. But I can listen to any music I want at any time without much effort. Thus resulting in me listening to lots of world music. The honest confession is that my comfort music is still AR’s. I am sure it will always be his music.
Just as a reflection of my own AR Rahman musical journey, I put together this Youtube playlist with 50 songs. These are songs that aren’t necessarily chartbusters. Less obscure in some ways.
Happy Birthday AR Rahman!
Thank you for shaping my musical appreciation of not just your music, but of any music.