Wednesday, March 30, 2016

'Guitar Genius' Eric Clapton and Friends

Exactly two months ago, both my son's performed at their School Annual Day. While my younger son (6) was part of the welcome song, my elder son was part of a 25-piece fusion orchestra playing a mix of Western and Bollywood tunes. The run-up to the event was exciting for him since he was playing lead guitar and even a solo for possibly the first time.  

One evening while practicing he asked me, why I focus more on rhythm guitar than the lead. I picked up the guitar, and showed him one of the first lead intros I picked up and played. It was a ballad that I'm sure a lot of you love or have loved - Wonderful Tonight. 

Did you hear about the vicar who while visiting homes of parishioners saw a guitar in the home of this gentleman and invited him to come and practice for an evening performance at the parish. The gentleman regretted that he could not make practice, but would be there on the actual performance day... and indeed he was. Up on stage was this very modest guitarist playing the most fantastic guitar riffs... none other that Eric Clapton

There's another song of his that I really like... and there is a story behind it... It's dedicated to a beautiful lady, who got him down on his knees.

Layla (not her real name) was dedicated to a British model who was also the wife of a good friend... Beatle George Harrison. Eric wooed the beautiful Pattie Boyd whom he later married. The lovely lady had a host of other songs dedicated to her including Something from her previous husband, George. She's currently married last year to Ron Weston (I don't think he's a famous singer). In 2007 she published her autobiography titled "Wonderful Tonight".

It's Eric Clapton's birthday today. And he share's his birthday with many many talented musicians - some of whom he has even collaborated with. One such collaboration is another talented guitarist and singer-songwriter - a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy winning artist, Tracy Chapman.

Another Musical Birthday today is the Canadian singer who has done a cover of Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven - the diva Celine Dion.

Eric Clapton hasn't collaborated with this young singer, songwriter and sometimes actress who also shares the same birthday. But Eric and Norah Jones have both collaborated with the country great, Willie Nelson.

One more singer (or rather rapper) has a birthday today. While they haven't performed together, they have on the same stage. In fact they both won Grammy's in the year 1991 - Eric Clapton with Bad Love and MC Hammer.

U Can't Touch This - you surely can't touch the guitar genius of Eric Clapton. 

Do come back to this blog and check out my take on music and life. Also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter for a near daily dose of Musical Birthdays.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

It's a special weekend - the Holy Week Triduum. And today is Good Friday - a day to reflect on the great Power of Love. "Greater love has no one than this, than He lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). 

On this solemn day, I thought I'd share with you the hymns on this 'great love' that I've heard and loved over the years. 

How Great Thou Art

A common hymn that we sang in church, I must have learnt at the age of 4 or 5. Close your eyes and listen carefully to the words, and maybe you will understand the power of this song. 

The Old Rugged Cross

Another traditional favorite. Whenever she played the organ in church, and need a filler (my first ever music teacher in school, late Mrs. Rachel Lobo) would play this with such feeling that it would nearly get tears to my eyes. 

Via Dolorosa

First heard this song on a hymn compilation cassette (some of you may not know what that is) given to us my Sister aunt. Listening to the song made me feel like I was jostling along with the crowds on the 'Via Dolorosa' - the road of sorrows. A warning for the weak-hearted, the images on this video from 'The Passion of Christ' may be a little too hard for you.

In My Place

Also featured in 'The Passion of Christ', this song by Coldplay is a reminder that 'Jesus Died ... In My Place'

Driving Nails

The fourth station on the Way of the Cross is "Jesus meets his mother'. Remembering the words of Simeon, the prophet "A soul will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:35), this song tries to capture Mary's thoughts through his life with significance to the 'Driving Nails' up on the hillside. 

Above All

I was driving on my way to work in the busy Sharjah Industrial Area, when this song I had only recently downloaded started playing on the car CD. And when the chorus played, the hair on my arms was standing. 

God Saw The Cross

Another beautiful reflection about the victorious power of the Cross. Listen to it... and remember the meaning of this day...

As we go through this Good Friday... in prayer and reflection, let's be thankful for the 'Greatest Love of All' and that it's there for ME.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Holi - Celebrate the Colours of Spring

Spring is in the air... and with it, the colours of new life. 

In India, Spring is celebrated with a host of festivals, the most prominent of them being Holi - the festival of colours. 

My favorite Holi song over the years remains the Big B hit from Silsila - back in the early 80s. Listen to it, I'm sure you'd like it. 

Holi celebrates the changing colours of the earth with the new season of Spring. While the earth will see vibrant changes with the new plants, flowers and grass of the season, we need to learn to paint with all the 'Colors of the Wind'.

I'm sure you know and love many more songs with Holi and Color... Now's the time to share them right here on the comments. Will be back soon. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

World Water Day

Its World Water Day today

Water is a precious commodity that many take for granted. This year’s theme focuses on the vital role water plays in creating and supporting good quality jobs.

Though around 71% of the earth's surface is covered with water, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water while 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. These numbers published by highlight how troubled the waters are, therefore requiring us to be the bridge. 

More stats indicate that women and children, especially in Africa and Asia walk an average of 3.7 miles per day to collect water spending upto 6 hours a day collecting water. The estimated time spent each day collecting water is 125 million hours. Are they chasing Waterfalls?

And that's not all. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-borne disease. Maybe we need to give it a thought, like the exiles on the Rivers of Babylon.

Why is the so much trouble with the water? Are we responsible for the Smoke on the Water?

We can set things right as well - by investing efforts and resources in saving water and utilizing it more economically. A responsible outlook on our parts could make the Gods happy and have a 'happy' Saawan rain down on us. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Apro Parsi Bawa Na Navroz Mubarak

Wishing all the Parsis in Mumbai and around the globe 'Navroz Mubarak'. 

Being Navroz today, the Parsi or Irani New Year. I'd thought I'd dedicate this post to some World-famous, India-famous and Mumbai-famous Parsis. 

The most famous Parsi in the world of music was and is .... hold your breath... the Queen of the World... Apro Freddie... Freddie Mercury of Queen. 

While Freddie has done all things Crazy, the other world-famous Parsi musician has made a name for himself as one of the greatest Classical Music conductors in the world - Zubin Mehta.

Back to India to the man who's rocking Bollywood with his versatile roles - comedian... villian... you name it... he's done it... he's also played a good Parsi boy in Shirin Farhad ki Nikal Padi... Here's a scene with Boman Irani. 

And if that clip had you laughing, this Parsi will make you dance... Let's do the Shabop with Shiamak Davar.

And last but not the least, I must introduce you to the Bawa who makes us laugh. He lives down the road in Chembur... runs a bakery and a Bawa restaurant... but best of all, he likes to sing Bawa songs. He's mentioned most of the Parsis I've mentioned in this post in his song... sit back and enjoy... with Shahriyar Atai...

So once again... Happy Navroz to all the Parsis....

Lots more famous Bawas and Bawis... who's your favorite?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Some Birthdays, a Wedding and a Funeral - This Day in Music

A couple of months ago, when I wrote a post - 'The Century Week' - about two individuals in my contact circle celebrating their 100th birthday in the week, I didn't think I''d come across anyone in the music circles anywhere near that age. 

Got an absolute surprise when 'This Day In Music' reported a wellknown English lady or 'dame' from the WWII days who starts her 100th year today. The oldest living person to have a record on the UK Top 20 chart at the age of 97 just about 2 years ago, Dame Vera Lynn. In 2009 (at the age of 92) she actually topped the album charts - No. 1 indeed with the collection of her songs over the years.

Dame Vera Lynn - Then and Now
Lynn​ is beloved by Britons and people around the world for the songs she recorded during WWII that served to lift the spirits and bolster the hopes of those fighting the war and those who waited prayerfully for their safe return. If you're in London, you should probably catch the party celebrating her 99 years. 

Or maybe you could wait till next year because "We'll Meet Again".

We go across the Altantic to Linkin' Park to celebrate the Ruby birthday of the crooner Chester Bennington. We along with the 183 movie scenes wish Chester a Happy 40th Birthday. 

The title of this post was inspired by the 1994 British Romantic Comedy. And today marks one of the most prominent Musical Weddings of all time - that of John and Yoko in 1969.

While John is no longer with us, today we also remember a little boy, four-year old Connor, who fell to this death from the 53rd storey of a New York City apartment building. His death inspired a ballad from his Dad - Eric Clapton, "Tears in Heaven"

But since it's today is also World Happiness Day, we need to wind this post with a happy song from the Dame we celebrate today, starting her 100th year. 


Where Have All The Sparrows Gone?

Spent my entire childhood living in the Mumbai suburb of Chembur. And remember the constant chirping of little birds around the house. On many occasions, they would make their way into the house... and sometimes even make themselves at home - by putting together their little nests around the wooden windows or on the loft.

We don't see those little birds anymore... which is why today (World Sparrow Day) has been dedicated to the Little Sparrow. 

Along with the house sparrow, many other common species of birds have also disappeared. This has been mainly due to the lack of habitat and food in cities where they once co-existed with all of us. What can we do to bring the sparrow back? 

One organisation conducted a special sparrow walk in Navi Mumbai earlier this morning. Most others recommend installing nest boxes with grain and water to attract the sparrow back to our surroundings. Also maybe register with as well.


Hope to see you... sometime soon

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day

Came across St. Patrick for the first time, when we had a special Mass to celebrate his feast at St. Mary's Church in Dubai. Any party loving Dubai resident would definitely have been to the Irish Village. And being a Thursday today and the start of the weekend, I'm sure the place is alight with celebrations. 

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Legends about him abound. But here's a report on him as posted in Saint of the Day on Listen to this hymn with words from the quote credited to him. 

How many Irishmen (or Irishwomen) do you know? While I didn't really know too many in Dubai, I've had the good fortune of knowing Irishmen in Mumbai (not Englishman in New York). And what's more, the Irishmen I knew were 'Men of God' - Redemptorists priests stationed at our parish church in Chembur in Mumbai. Fr. Frank Toner who used to be the parish priest of the parish in the early to mid-eighties, and who has a football tournament named after him at the parish. Also remember 'my dear people' Fr. Gerry Morgan and his wonderful homilies.

Celebrating the Irish today on the feast of St. Patrick, the music world is lucky to have a philantropic singer in Bono from U2. I remember their album having a biblical name in it. 

An Irish woman musician who was in the forefront in the '80s was the 'bald and beautiful' Sinead O'Connor.

The nineties saw the rise of an all girl Irish band with a combination of rock with Celtic Irish tunes. Enjoy the sounds and instruments in 'Dreams'.

The last song on this post is a personal favorite that was released around 50 years ago. Van Morrisons 'Brown Eyed Girl'.

 That's all for now. Will be back soon. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Date in the Mathematical Circle (Pi Day and more)

My vey first post on this blog was about 'Music and Maths'. And today is a mathematically significant date for more than one reason...

Did you get it? There's one reason right there on the stage. 

What's the date today? March 14th or put it numerically 3.14... and any Maths geek will tell you that that's the value of π. That's what you multiply by the diameter to get the length of the circumference of the circle. And multiplying it by the square of the radius gives us the area. 

Have you noticed that the basic shape of music media in round like a circle. Vinyl record (LP) or for those who do not know what that is, your CD or DVD disc. 

The other reason for a special date for Maths and Physics is that we mark a Scientific Birthday Remembrance. Not just any one, but one of the most renowned physicists ever 

So while you make up your mind, I'm leaving you with one of the best 'circle' songs I know - The Circle of Life.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Have you heard the word A CAPELLA?

The term that most of us understand as 'vocal music without instruments' is Italian for 'in the manner of the chapel'.

The Youth Choir Competition that I attended in January had some excellent presentations of A Capella. I guess most of you would have heard the captivating tracks by the Pentatonix and other a cappella performance including Boyz II Men among others.  

But do you know which was the first 'acapella' song to reach the number one spot on the Billboard single charts?

A clue: the year 1988

The song and singer also won Grammys in 1989 for 'Song of the Year', 'Record of the Year' and 'Best Male Pop Vocal Performance'.

Do you have an answer?

Even if you don't, 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'.

You got you're answer right there... the first 'a capella' song to top the Billboard singles charts ever was 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' by Bobby McFerrin.

Ten-time Grammy winner, Bobby has been a strong proponent for creativity in music and unique voice techniques. He's demonstrated most of that vocal talent in the song including scat techniques and vocal percussion... that is gaining popularity nowadays as 'beatboxing'.


On his 66th Birthday today, he has a lesson for all of us. Put up the volume on this one and join the audience in this exercise on the Pentatonic scale.

We look forward to more music and lessons from you during the year...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Invisible Instrument

How many musical instruments can you name in the next 30 secs?

Can you play any of them without touching them? 

Maybe by just waving your hands in the air...

Listen to that humming sound in the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations...

Or check out the sci-fi sounds in this clip from Led Zeppelin...

Possibly the first electronic instrument ever is the THEREMIN (originally known as the etherphone) which has been named after its inventor, Leon Theremin who patented the device in 1928 (unbelievable). 

The theremin comprising of two antennas and an amplifier which broadcasts the sound produced by moving your hands through the magnetic field produced by the antennas. The significance of the Google Doodle today was to commemorate the 105th birth anniversary of the best known thereminist ever - Clare Rockmore. 

Wasn't that sheer perfection...

Winding this post on a lighter note... with the inimitable Dr. Sheldon Cooper from 'The Big Bang Theory' and his music...

Hey Hey Hey, I learned something new today... I hope you did too...

Don't want to beat around the bush... Well, do share your thoughts on what I could cover on this post. And please feel free to share some feedback in the comments below. 

P.S. Btw, before I started writing the post, I had registered 3773 pageviews on this blog, interesting symmetry... or has it got something to do with Physics...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Groovy Kind Of Love...

Most of us have heard this song "A Groovy Kind of Love" sung by former Genesis drummer, Phil Collins in 1988 which went to No. 1 on most of the world charts. It also featured in the soundtrack of 'Buster'. But did you know that the song was originally recorded by The Mindbenders, all the way back in 1965. 

'That's What Friends Are For' performed here by Dionne Warwick and Friends - Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder was originally performed for Rod Stewart. But this version went on to win not one but two Grammy awards - one for the performers and the other for the song writers. 

If you heard the introduction on the video it gave credit to the songwriters who were awarded the 'Song of the Year' - Burt Bacharach and his then wife Carol Bayer Sager. 

The songs above have something in common with Leo Sayer's "When I Need You" and also by Celine Dion.

While we know most songs by the singers, not many of us pay attention to the writers of the song. All the three songs above and many more wonderful songs that we have enjoyed over the years have a common writer behind them.

Today's #MusicalBirthday wish goes out to the lovely Carol Bayer Sager, who has given us many many love songs to dance cheek-to-cheek. Hope we get many more wonderful songs from you. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Shaky Shakin Stevens

An 80s party would be incomplete without Marie - not the girl - but Marie Marie the rock n roll song by Shakin' Stevens.

Marie Marie

And our Saturday Date (on All India Radio) was incomplete without either of the following ballads.
Give Me Your Heart Tonight

Because I Love You

And to end on a quick note, I heard this song on a Gospel compilation, and just loved it. 

What's your favorite Shakin' Stevens song? It may be one of these or something different. Click this link and let us know...

Happy #MusicalBirthday Shakin' Stevens

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Name One Thing You Can't Live Without?

Take a minute to think...

I'm quite sure the answer will be unaminous...


Well... today we remember the man who invented the earliest version of the phone. Who else... Alexander Graham Bell, born on this day (3rd March) in 1847.

As we celebrate this great inventor, I thought I'd share some songs about him and his invention...

Talking of Alexander Graham Bell, I recall a lazy Sunday afternoon back in 1987, when we sat watching TV and heard this song;

Graham Bell, Graham Bell,
You’re dead and its just as well;
But if you saw the phones in Goa.

You’d jump into the well.

The singer was a little known artiste from Goa (where else) performing at the Aid Bhopal' - a concert held to raise funds for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy ('Live Aid' was held in 1985 in London and Philadelphia to support the victims of the Ethiopian famine). 

That song along with 'Pack That Smack' won recognition and accolades for Goan singer Remo Fernandez who made it to Indian and International fame and fortune.

While that's for the inventor, the invention has heard (or had) many many referrals throughout the ages, the most recent being Telephone by Lady Gaga and Payphone by Maroon 5 - both of which I have not posted here for reasons of taste.

The first song that I remember hearing though about the phone was by Swedish Group ABBA.

Much later in the 90s, I fell in love with this song by the jazz group Manhattan Transfer. One of the songs I particularly enjoyed, was titled 'Operator'.... Go ahead, listen, and CALL.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Big Bands, Calypso, Rock and Pop - on Stage, in Movies and the Small Screen

It's a new month... a changing season... and a great day for Musical Birthdays.

From 1904 to 1994, the 1st of March has been a first day in the life of some great musicians and singers who have left their mark (and still do) on the musical preferences of young and old. 

First, let's get "In The Mood"

Any lover of the Big Band sound would have heard of Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, just perfect to get you 'in the mood'. While most of his tracks get you 'swinging', the Moonlight Serenade gets you in quite a different mood. 

Take a trip from America down to Caribbean islands and the classic Calypso sound made famous by 89-year old, Harry Belafonte. Had a couple of songs featured in the 1988 comedy 'Beetlejuice'. 

Hope that didn't really startle you. Moving on from movies to TV and my favorite Crime shows that has versions for three of the major American cities - Las Vegas, Miami and New York and now has a series on the newest city - CyberCity. CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) themes to the three city versions were all by The Who - headlined by Peter Townshend and the birthday boy today - Roger Daltrey. Here's are the CSI themes.

With the dollar sign in her name, Ke$ha raked in loads of the greens with her debut single, 'Tik Tok'. I know of a person who'd replace his 'S' with the '$' especially when writing to the marketing team of the company. $trange Chap.

The youngest one on this list of Musical Birthday, is this 22 year-old who's currently on the charts - Justin Beiber. 

Liked the dance steps on this track, especially after a weekend of Dance Events. 

Have a wonderful day... a lovely March... and keep the Music alive. 

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