longevity

One of my favourite musical artists is back with a new album. I first came across Tanita Tikaram in 1998 when a friend back in college who shared the same musical tastes as I did gave me her cassette of Tanita Tikaram’s The Cappuccino Songs. We always shared music with each other and she knew my tastes and thought I was going to like it because she did, but she just found Tanita Tikaram’s deep voice “weird.” My friend said she’d listen to it if it played but she didn’t think she would actively play it herself. So she gave me her cassette because she knew that it was something I’d play on my own.

She was right. I fell in love with the album and later on, I would find the CD and buy it. And then, on trips to Singapore and Hong Kong, I would find more of Tanita Tikaram’s old records in CD stores and I started collecting. Lovers in the City has become my favourite Tanita Tikaram record and is one of my favourite albums of all time.

When I started buying music from the Internet, I was so happy to discover she is still writing music and I bought Can’t Go Back off of iTunes. I bought the CD of Sentimental when I visited some country, I think it was Singapore. I just love her music.

I realised early on that I had heard of her before, Twist in my Sobriety was a hit in the 80s and I heard it then but I was too young to appreciate the song then (I do now). But I didn’t discover her until 1998 with The Cappuccino Songs.

And now, I’m elated to discover she’s coming out with a new album this year on March.

And if this song is any indication of where this album is going, I’m going to love this record just as much as any of her records that I’ve bought.

Almost thirty years in the business and Tanita Tikaram is still making gorgeous music. How does someone do this? She may not selling millions of records like she used to, but she’s stayed true to her craft and her music and the people who appreciate that have stayed and they attend her shows and keep the cycle continuous.

She didn’t have to sell out or go mainstream. She kept doing her thing and it might not be successful in the terms of business or profits but she has remained successful in making fabulous music. Maybe her audience is smaller than it has been (I seem to be the only one amongst my friends, most of them young, who even know her name) but they are loyal and appreciative and they will buy her records and go to her shows.

Money and fame is such a shallow standard to use to define success, especially in the terms of artistic production. Because, man, Food on my Table is such intricate, gorgeous work. What a wonderful song!

I wish that I could have that sensibility, to not lose my way as I’m building a name for myself (so late in life), and to stay true to my voice and my craft regardless of how famous or rich it makes me; that I stay true to what I love doing. I want to keep writing until I can’t move my fingers anymore. I don’t want to stop creating and dreaming up of words and worlds.

And like Tanita Tikaram, I want to be a better artist than I was when I first started out. I want to always keep getting better.

I cannot wait for this album to come out.

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