It’s not my song

It’s not my song

Recently, I watched an old song being performed by a new singer. To be honest, I did not like the way it was presented. The song is not just old enough but also good enough to be regarded as a classic. It was sung by a folk singer who became popular because of that song. I am not sure, but I think it was written by her. In its simple form, it was played using one or two unsophisticated instruments and the music was not extraordinary on its own. The ingredient that made the song famous was the lyrics and the singer. The lyrics were about a nomadic woman of the desert longing for her lover. The singer was that gypsy woman who moved from place to place depending on the time of the year. Her voice had the essence of the desert sand and her pain was expressed using those powerful words. She not only sings her sorrows in an honest way, but also makes the listener see the world through her eyes. By the end of the song, you wish that she feels better, hope that she meets her lover and they live happily. There may not even be a lover, she may not be longing for him, but such is the strength in the voice and the words that she makes you imagine, she makes you believe.

The new song is different. In my humble and musically-uneducated opinion, the new song will never be as good. The new singer has a great voice, don’t get me wrong about that. She is talented and has worked hard, and if I had heard her without knowing about the old song, I would have liked her. But I have heard the pain in the old song, I can not forget that. The new performance has the best instruments and recording technology that money can buy, but it is missing something that the old one captured. The words are the same, but somehow the new ones lack the strength that the old ones have. The musical instruments play a happy tune when the song is sad, the singer does not make the listener believe that she is sad and longing. The pain and sorrow is the heart and soul of the song, but the new singer fails to capture that.

I know it is not her song. It was not written for her. She may not be able to relate to the situation in the song because she is a city girl and not a gypsy. The longing, lack of contact and poor communications are also a thing of the past. So it is understandable why she can not recreate that for the audience. When she sings it, she knows she will be compared to the classic. This will surely add more pressure to be better if not similar to the old performance. I can understand why she is unable to have the same effect on me, and althougth my sympathies are with her, I think she could have done better. Instead of re-singing something that everyone has heard before, she could have done something new. She could have impressed everyone with a new song, something that could not be easily compared to anything.

Art is like coffee. The ideas need to reach a certain boiling point in your brain before they extract the flavour and taste of what they try to create. The original song was as good as it was because the artist gave it freedom to happen when it wanted to happen. She did not write the song just because she wanted to write it. That would be like making coffee with lukewarm water. She waited, tried to picture the situation in the words, embodied the pain and helplessness of that woman and then sang the song with all her heart. It was a thing of beauty. The new singer tried to recreate the old magic, but it was like warming up a coffee that has gone cold. It is never the same, will never be the same. The boiling point where ideas begin to mingle, words get their depth and the songs becomes genuine was never reached again. She should have made a new cup of coffee for herself, rather than warming up someone else’s. I am over-stretching the analogy, but the new singer should have presented a new song. She should have just said “It is not my song, I can’t sing it in the same way!” It’s the same with many other things. Sing your song, play your tune and dance the way you dance. If you can try to recreate someone else’s magic, you are capable to create some of your own!

— Mayuresh

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