Music has no mortality

The author writes on coming to terms with the demise of the legendary singer, SP Balasubrahmanyam 

Songs stay with you in a way films cannot. They flavour your best times, guide you through your worst, and offer you unconditional companionship during all the times in between. They occupy centrestage and become the subject of conversations, and when the said conversations end, they slide in to fill the gaps in between. Given their omnipresence, is it a surprise at all that when someone like SP Balasubrahmanyam, whose vocal signature is stamped across our film music, passes away, it feels like the loss of a family member? For, isn’t that who he is to us? If family refers to those people who stand by us through thick and thin, who regale and console us through life, who stand by us without judgment, is it not just that we think of SPB and his voice as family? Isn’t this why news of his death cuts so deep?

He was 74, and yet, it came as a shock, for his magnificent voice had betrayed no signs of aging. A viral clip of him singing, just a few months ago, that testing AR Rahman song, En Kadhale, bears testimony to the eternal youth of his singing voice. We knew that like everything else, this too wouldn’t last, but we clung to the hope that we would get a few more years of a voice more intimately familiar to us than that of a loved one. And if those years had passed, we would have asked for a few more years. However, time forces us now to reconcile with the cold truth that this legend, such a regular at concerts in the city, can never be seen singing again.

And yet, despite the sorrow that chokes us, admirers, let us remember that this is no tragic story. Let us remember that this singer lived his dream, sang 40,000 songs, worked across 16 languages, and won more awards than can fit in a room. SPB’s is a life well-lived, a fame deservedly earned. The miraculous longevity of his voice will outlive you and me, comforting us till the very end before taking on the mantle, once again, of playing in the background while a new generation of people live and love. Goodbye SPB sir. Rest assured that your song—and voice—is safe with us.

This column was written for Cinema Express and is live at

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