Music for your soul

Updated: Mar 20, 2020, 10:29 IST | Karishma Kuenzang | Mumbai

On International Day of Happiness, we invite four musicians to suggest their 'happy' song to help curate the ultimate mood-upper playlist for tough times

Kamakshi Khanna
Kamakshi Khanna

Listening to glum tunes may not be the best idea at such times. While Queen's Don't stop me now and Muse's Pressure are instant pick-me-ups for us, we invited four city musicians to give us theirs. Plug in and smile.

Kamakshi Khanna: Sara Bareilles and Lizzo

For vocalist Khanna, one artiste who always makes her feel good is Sara Bareilles. "Sara Bareilles is an artiste who makes me feel like I'm being hugged with promise of hope in humanity. Her songs have so much heart and purity that's hard to find. Currently, I am obsessed with Teach you by Sara Bareilles and Emily King. I think this time of isolation is really teaching us how to love the people in our lives and the little, simple things that we often take for granted and the song always reminds me of that," Khanna says.

Lizzo is another artiste who makes her feel empowered. "The minute I turn on Juice or Good as hell, I feel this wave of energy. It's crazy how music has the power to change how we feel almost instantly," she adds.

Gino Banks: Allan Holdsworth and The Temptations

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Allan Holdsworth's guitar playing skills are what work for drummer Gino Banks. "The sixteen men of rain has a soothing melody which is quite complex but sounds simple, while being sophisticated and lush," he says. But, while in quarantine, he has been singing My girl by The Temptations to his wife, Kesang Alexander, also a musician. "I've been putting on a mix of Motown music, and My girl is a fun song that is an instant mood lifter. I sing it for my wife and it's an amazing track for everyone to listen to while at home and enjoy in a positive way," the musician adds.

Shirish Malhotra: Marvin Gaye; Ibrahim Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club

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Saxophonist and flautist Shirish Malhotra dips into nostalgia with God is love by Marvin Gaye, which he used to listen to in his 20s. "For a long time, it embodied the religious belief I had. It's about gratitude, unconditional love, loving your family and community. It's about how God isn't the God of judgment but the God of love," he tells us. There's also Bruca Manigua by Ibrahim Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club, which transports him to a forgotten time and place. "The lyrics are written in first person. The first verse makes a statement about the freedom of African slaves and their descendants in Cuba with lyrics that go, 'Yo soy carabalí, negro de nación; sin la libertad, no pue'o viví,' which translates to 'I am carabalí, black of nation; without freedom, I can't live.' The song is written in a form of Creaolised Spanish known as 'bozal', and the thematic elements of the song fall within the context of the Afrocubanismo movement that began in the 1920s to acknowledge and preserve Afro-Cuban culture," Malhotra says.

Subid Khan: Django Reinhardt, Ezra Collective and Claire de lune

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For guitarist Subid Khan, it's Django Reinhardt's version of La mer that helps him. "La mer, originally by Charles Trenet, is like a ballad which has a beautiful melody and is something I was listening to in Sri Lanka — my last trip before the clampdown. It reminds me of the sea and brings back happy memories from the beach," Khan says. Then there's UK-based Ezra Collective that he listens to, especially the song Mace windu riddim. "This again reminds me of the good times I've had in my early 20s. Then there's Dance inna Babylon by Mood Mellow, a reggae tune that speaks about Babylon and everything that has gone wrong with the society —politics, religious war and capitalism. It's important to enjoy what's beautiful in life. There's also Claire de lune, a classical tune which makes me feel uplifted when I listen to it. The original was by Peter Schmalfuss and the cover by Kamasi Washington," he adds.

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