SPB: A Mellifluous Voice That Moved Generations
There are songs. And there are songs sung by SPB.
We all have our favourite SPB numbers. I will refrain from getting into that because one could debate our choices for days on end.
I would, for now, stick to that voice - one that seeped in through our ears and stayed in our hearts forever. For over five decades. That voice has finally stopped singing. It is akin to Michelangelo stopping to create art one fine day.
SPB has left a gargantuan, melodic void that cannot be filled.
I can look back, over several years, and recall instances where an SPB song just switched my mood in an instant. For those of us who were lucky to grow up during his most prolific phase in the ‘80s and ‘90s, his songs were a sort of a coping mechanism.
He laughed with us in our joys, he cried with us in our sorrows - using his voice as a soothing balm - to help us penetrate through our daily lives.
Way back in the ‘80s, we would often listen to SPB hits from various films on radio. The only other option was through cassettes, which brought out his ‘hits’ from films. The joy he gave us in our childhoods, when we played his songs at home - sometimes in solitude, among friends, in family meet-ups - were moments that we truly cherished.
And slowly, as I grew older, I was able to listen to him in different languages.
Truth be told, herein lay his true genius.
There aren’t many singers at his level who could comfortably sing in so many languages and not sound a bit wanting. The reason, SPB could do it so brilliantly, is because he took the effort to learn those languages before he started singing.
You would reckon he was an enigmatic polyglot as much a versatile genius. And this was also his small effort to get closer to listeners and fans from various parts of India.
SPB’s greatness also lay in the fact, that ever so often, he improvised on every single song. He disrupted the way his fans listened to him - especially in live shows - when he conjured magic with his vocal delivery, taking his band mates by surprise.
As he leaves us and travels gently into that heavenly abode, there’s one line that he sung in Tamil that comes to my mind - “Indha Dhegam Maraindhalum Isaiyaai Malarven“ (“when this body is no more, I will bloom again as music”).
Fare thee well, SPB sir.
I am sure you’ll light up the heavens, like you did our lives.