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(all txt from 'Eastern Spring' by Neil Kulkarni, published 2012 by Zero Books)

1. Lata Mangeshkar - Ghanu Waje Ghun Ghuna (from the album ‘Amratachu Ghanu’, song by Hridnyath Mangeshkar)

“Happy daze - I hear the Seekers and the Sex Pistols and Val Doonican and it all sounds the same. I also hear this song and I realise that music can make me cry and choke. This song is about moonlight, shelter, looking in the mirror and not seeing yourself looking back. It's by Maharashtrians of a similar vintage to my parents, Hridaynath Mangeshkar and his sister Lata, a familial combination that created gold whenever it collaborated... but at age five I knew none of this. I just knew it felt funny, that this song woke and walked into new chambers of my still-growing heart, instrumentation I couldn't quite picture that pulled the brine from your eyes in pure melodic yearning and sent you on through your day levitating a few inches above the ground. A poem that's over 1000 years old. Hits you like it were writ tomorrow."

2. Lata Mangeshkar - Are Are Dnyana Jhalasi Pavan (devotional Abhang to the Saint Dnyaneshwar, arranged by Hridnyath Mangeshkar)

“That dislocation increases with age, even if the future generations of people who are going to call themselves proud to be British will be similarly composed of phantom solidity, but in numbers will find STRENGTH from that non-alignment with the monolithic, the strength us nervous pioneers had to keep locked up, sipped from in those moments alone after the freshest latest despair. When we didn’t have the advantage of numbers, our music made us strong, gave us voices upon voices, calling us back, pushing us on.”

3. V.G Jog & Ustad Bismillah Khan – Dhun Karhawa (from the album ‘Sublime Notes’)

“Listen to Bismillah Khan, perhaps the single most inspirational musical artist of the 20th century this side of Miles Davis, and remind yourself how little any of us know, how much any of us can feel.”

4. Lata Mangeshkar – Ya Chimanyanno (composed by Shrinivas Khale, words by Ga Di Madgulkar)

“Lata Mangeshkar, like all Marathi singers, sang songs about Shivaji because he was a hero to Marathis.”

5. Lata Mangeshkar – Avachita Paramilu (from the album ‘Avachita Paramilu’, musical director Hridnyath Mangeshkar)

“Melodies I couldn’t explain, rhythms without time conjured by the all-powerful multi-tracked voice above the drone. Another Hrydnath/Lata gem, another 1000 year old libretto by the Saint Naneshwar who translated the Gita into street-level Marathi from Sanskrit and that has the good sense to know that God is a perfume, and his stink is everywhere.Screens off if you can bear to be reminded of pure sound, and the pure vision that can come from it. Format matters.”

6. Sudhir Phadke  - Jag He Bandishala (literally ‘Imprisonment As Metaphor For Life’ from the 1960 movie Sakharam, a Chaplinesque tragedy of blindness, gangsters and revenge. Lyrics by G.D.Madgulkar and music by Sudhir Phadke)

(Lyrics Translation) “This World is a dungeon/ Nobody here is virtuous / Everyone is a wanderer off the path/ Everyone loves his cell / Friends and consorts in the cell/ Be it handcuffs or heavy gyves - everyone sticks to them/ Everyone clings to his place ! Nobody's vision goes beyond the walls/ Worms in a fig, in the fig they exist/ Nobody knows what's the term/ From where he comes nobody knows/ Everyone fears his deliverance/ Every one is happy with confinement”

7. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi – Raag Puriya Pt 4 of 4 (from the album ‘"Raag Puriya Dhanashree: Vilambit Bandish - "Ab To Ritu Maan" In Ek Taal (12 Beats) / Drut Bandish - "Paayaliya Jhankar" In Teen Taal (16 Beats)")

“Joshi’s music is proof that Raga is simply a framework within which anyone and anything can happen, his melodies the most astonishing modernist improvisations within that ancient framework, his songs as Islamic as they are heathen, as prehistoric as they are futuristic, as civilized as they are untamed.”

8. Asha Bhosle - Ya Dolyanchi Don Pakhare (from the film Paath Laag, 1964, Music & Songs by Datta Davjekar)

“Haunted by who you are, by the idea of being someone. I don’t lend vinyl anymore but there’s a song at the heart of this. It’s a song sung by a dead woman, a ghost to her husband, warning him that wherever he goes and whoever he’s with she will be in his heart. It’s soundtracked by vamping keys, insanely heavy reverb, spooked and wracked sound fx and was made in about 1964, (just before Marathi song started being bulldozed out of Indian cinema, just before my mum and dad decide to blow Mumbai for the other side of the world) for the film Paath Laag and is called Ya Dolyanchi Don Pakhare.”

9. Asha Bhosle - Vikat Ghetala Shyam (from the film Jagachya Pathivar, 1960)

Lyrics translation: “Didn't spend a farthing, neither did I spend a penny/ I acquired my Shyam (Krishna)/ Some may think Its a theft, some may think I borrowed him / But as many as thebreaths in my whole life I've counted His Name/ Child Shepard from Yamuna river, naughty child of Sant Poets/ He has names as many as owners he has/His habitats are as many as hearts are there in the world/ But still nobody knows Him/ He still remains a poor nameless orphan”

10. Suman Kalyanpur – Jhite Sagara Dharni Milte (from the film Devbappa, 1953)

“The pictures are out-of-synch and so is anyone who escapes the world they were born to, to step and stumble out into another. Out of synch as is anyone who's walked on these black beaches barefoot and finds themselves grown up and trudging through a substance called snow that they'd only read about before.”

11. Lata Mangeshkar - Karangali Modali (from the film Padchhaya, 1965 music by Datta Davjekar)

“Born out-of-synch. Because 'Indian' culture as perceived by the English is either hidden or horrific by then, bar the odd gem precisely those pale imitations and painful malapropisms of contemporary western pop that the west loves so much, the camp failure of all these Bengalis-in-platforms trying to look like they belong on the dance floor where it's unlikely they'd make it past toilet-attendant. I don't need that neediness cos with the Indian music I hold close in my juvenile 16-year-old fogeyness there's no attempt to ingratiate, only the instant ability to fly, to be yourself where that self is free, where your eyes hurt because you've been waiting for god too long.”

12. Lata Mangeshkar – Om Namo Ji (‘Invocation Of Saint Dyanyeshwar’ from the 1971 album ‘Dnyaneshwar Mauli’)

“Crucially, Indian music at its best reminds me that I had music before I had words or categories for it: at its best, it suggests to me that it’s time I shut the fuck up about music and spend a few years just listening. Care less about having the final word than exploring those moments for which there aren’t words, let those folk who mistake music for the accumulation of taste have their lists and lineages and things You Must Hear Before You Die. Get busy finding out what and HOW I must hear before I can start living again.”

13. Asha Bhosle – Gyansham Sundara (from the film Amar Bhupali, 1952, music composed by Vasant Desai and lyrics penned by Shahir Honaji Bala)

“I suggest it to you because I love you. Because you’re my friend. Because we’re living proof that it never was about finding out who you are. Just about making sure who you aren’t, who you’re not gonna stand alongside, who you’re going to share your impure bastard-past and fucked-up future with. Sorry to have kept you so long. Let our eyes meet on the nearest star through the silhouetted branches. At the start of a new day of eastern spring. The summer soon come.

Vultus oriens, Ecce Homo Sacer, Rodus Dactlyus Aurora I don’t have long so listen now, before your house wakes and time starts stealing your future again an ancient song for a new dawn. Hear the sun? Hear the noise it makes?

Feel it in your heart.”

Eastern Spring page at Zero Books 
Eastern Spring on


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