Back to my lists. The top twenty romantic songs (as I remember them now) I have heard in English. And the memories attached to them.
1) Id' die without you: PM Dawn's soulful song from the movie Boomerang tops my list. Reminds me of Sunnie and Bangalore in 1992 because that was where I discovered that a music shop had this song. I can still feel that delicious anticipation of getting the cassette and wanting to go home and listen to this song. Later I got another cassette of the Boomerang soundtrack in Pune which I still have.
2) Everything I do, I'd do it for you: Bryan Adams scores with this song which incidentally was used in the Kevin Costner starrer Robinhood, the Prince of Thieves. Memories include the MTV visual of a dreamy collegian state we were in the early nineties, of a burning arrow released from Costner's bow and some romantic visuals that followed.
3) Strangers in the night: Frank Sinatra's wonderful rendition is a haunting all time melody. Memories of this song are primarily that of Ram singing this song aloud. This song was first discovered by Ram and Sinatra was his collection. But then he sang both Strangers in the night (still does) and Piano man exceptionally well.
4) Keep On Loving You: REO Speedwagon's old hit is an all time favourite. I got this tape in one of early jaunts as an Intermediate student. The day I discovered Sangeet Sagar in Basheerbagh, my entire focus was on collecting thirty rupees so I could buy a cassette. And once I got the money together, I got into a bus, normally on Saturday evenings and got off at Control Room. I loved to walk from there to Basheerbagh in the slanting rays of the evening sun, deliciously anticipating the new goodies. I spent hours staring at the music on display, picked what I wanted and came back home to explore that album or group for the next month, until I raised the money again. REO Speedwagon was entirely discovered there and this album had some great numbers including Keep on loving you and In your letter.
5) Words: The Beegees/ Boyzone song has an old association with me, from the days of the radio. From first hearing it on the radio in the late seventies to finally finding it in a Beegees collection at Madhav's house and then finding Boyzone's version, it was and still is beautiful. Perfect to introduce stillness in the mood.
6) Quit Playing Games with my heart: The Backstreet Boys number got me hooked since the time I heard it being played in a shack in Goa. That was a trip we made in 1998, an boy gang me, Koni, Ranjan and Vardha
in a trip that was as much coming of age as can be for thirty year olds. Vidyuth accompanied us one way, Vicky took us around Goa, and this was the song that a shack played in Baga beach while I mulled over the final changes on the first draft of 'The Misfit' Can still feel the place, the mood.
7) Annie's song: John Denver's soulful ballad is an all time favourite ever since I heard it sung on radio and by some others. They say John Denver wrote and sang this song for his wife. It sure is beautiful. One of the few songs in English that I remember the lyrics of and can sing almost entirely.
8) Just the way you are: Billy Joel is a genius and his lyrics are poetry, this song is brilliant for all it says. Reminds me of the early nineties when I bought a double cassette of Billy Joel's greatest hits in Pune, soon after I made my life's biggest purchase - a Phillips deck for Rs. 10, 000/- Never have I spent money so happily and did it give me some pleasure! Hours and hours of music! Billy Joel played for hours too.
9) Nothing's gonna change my love for you: Glenn Medeiros and so many others who sang this classic. I first heard this song way back in Engineering College and we were all shot down by the soulful singing, our hearts on our sleeve as it was then. It always makes any list and is one song one can listen to anytime, any number of times.
10) Faithfully: Journey's slow ballad is another one that gets one into a soft mood. A swap from Kumar of my cricketing days, in the late eighties, who is a complete philistine when it comes to western music. He got the tape on one of his foreign jaunts and I was only too happy to swap it for my old worn out helmet. But Journey proved a great investment and I still listen to that cassette - this song in particular. Heard it before my cricket matches as well.
11) Careless Whispers:D. Suresh, one of the best batsmen of our time, and I went to a little shop in Guwahati on an evening stroll. We were in Guwahati to play the Under 22 all India tournament, representing South Zone. I remember picking a cassette and checking with Suresh if he knew the songs and he said he liked the collection, so I bought it. That tape with Careless Whispers in it soon became a rage after we returned in the Engineering College D Hostels and everyone was soulfully singing this song all over the place. Careless Whispers became an anthem those days. And, we won the All India tournament in Guwahati as well.
12) All out of love: The Air Supply must feature in any love songs collection and this is one of their best. The memories are strictly restricted to a garage party we gave in Madhav's garage for all our juniors at the end of our Engineering days. Oh, it was a fine party with everyone coming in, gatecrashing, dancing in the dark and having a ball. And then this song was played at all parties later where dancing was envisaged as part of the activity. A major hit with C. Sanjay who still slips into a reflective mood when he hears this song.
13) It Must Have Been Love: Roxette's ballad is a must - from the Pretty Woman soundtrack. Again the nineties period when we heard it first. This song came with Koni who came for a month long break from Australia, having transformed half into an Australian himself. He got several tapes for me, many original ones and several that he patiently taped from the radio. One of those discoveries was 'It must have been love'.
14) Alone: Heart's classic ballad. Discovered in the 1991 period, I took this song with me to Vizag during the Inter varsity tournament. The seniormost player in the side, my sixth year at the varsity level, I used to keep to myself with my walkman. Kartik Macheri, a young kid then, and I would walk to the beach from the University accommodation to catch the sunrise and listen to this song. Or I would play it when I went off on my walks during that long fifteen day tour in December 1991, when we won the tournament after ten years.
15) Addicted: Enrique Iglesias's soulful rendition draws me every time. Memories carry me back to the concert of Enrique that I attended in Mumbai, just after I quit jobs and decided to start writing. It was a feeling of freedom, a heavy freedom, loaded with responsibility. 2004 was it? Enrique was in his element in the concert and this song was sung more than once. I heard the album 'Seven' all along on the bus ride to Mumbai from Pune, on a lovely summer afternoon.
16) I Swear: Boyz to Men. Got this song and album in Pune after listening to it on MTV in the nineties. I used to sing this song to Jui and Saie when they were still happily swinging on my shoulders and asking me to sing some songs. For some reason they used to crack up when I sang this song but I can feel that air of Pune in those days, 1992-93, as clearly as yesterday.
17) I'm mad about you: Belinda Carlisle impressed me right away with her voice, distinct as ever and I tried to hear as much of her as I could. I really liked most of her songs 'Leave a light on for me' being one that Shobhs and I discovered and enjoyed. But 'Mad about you' was part of a collection I heard from Iftekhar, my old school cricket team mate, on a Inter varsity trip - to Bangalore if I am not mistaken. And after that I made many attempts to get the song and did finally get it. Loved this number.
18) Heaven: Bryan Adams was introduced to me by Naresh when we rediscovered each other in our Engineering days. He played the songs 'Run to you' and 'Heaven' and then showed me the videos which I remember very clearly. After that I think I have bought every single Bryan Adams album I could lay my hands on and even went to his concert in Bangalore with Shobha and Ajay. 2003 circa.
19) Hello: Lionel Richie's song that wound up as runner up to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' lives on for the fantastic memories of the first ever Grammy I watched on television. It was probably the only one with that kind of competition - Jackson swept everything away but there was Lionel Richie gamely clapping on, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Billy Joel and so many more legends in that line up of nominations. 1984 if I remember right.
20) Glory of Love: Peter Cetera, Chicago's lead singer sang this song as one of his solo singles, and this was a big hit. Memories attached to this song are clearly with Naresh, sitting on some pavement o footpath after a night of revelry near Parade Grounds or Paradise, and singing it loudly, each of us helping the other along with the lyrics.