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My Favorite Music: Subir Malik

Keyboardist and founding member of Delhi rock veterans Parikrama, Subir Malik goes back to the age of Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd to pick out his top ten tracks

Rolling Stone India Aug 20, 2015
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Subar Malik. Photo by Monisha Ajgaonkar.

Subar Malik. Photo by Monisha Ajgaonkar.

The keyboardist and founding member of Delhi rock veterans Parikrama has a plea to make before he lists his favorites. Says Malik, who picks everything from Led Zeppelin to violinist L. Subramaniam, “Every day when I wake up, there’s always some song that’s ringing in my head. I just cannot figure out 15 songs or so. I still have at least 2000 [songs] to go.”


“Paper In Fire” John Mellencamp, 1987

This was one of the songs I heard way back when I was in school, starting out with bands. I even recently shared it with a friend on Facebook and told him, ”˜there’s no way you can’t like this song.’ John Mellencamp isn’t a very mainstream guy, if you ask me, but he’s so great.

“Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin, 1971

Do I really have to say anything here? There are a lot of Led Zeppelin songs that I like, and as a person, I’m not really critical or over-analytic about music. A lot of people complain about Bollywood films, all I say is, it’s a film made for people who lesser intellectual things, what’s wrong with that? The same way, some rock ”˜n roll is just great without being complex.

“Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun” Pink Floyd, 1968

This was one of the initial songs off Echoes [Live at Pompeii]. I remember I picked it up on VHS at Palika Bazaar. This song just encapsulates the whole feel of Sixties and Seventies culture. It’s the song that was my introduction to Floyd.

“Leaving On a Jet Plane” John Denver, 1969

I love this song because of its universality. Even my younger daughter heard it and started singing along. It’s one of those easy-going, evergreen songs. I listen to it with everybody.

“Who Are You” The Who, 1978

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This is one of the few songs where all four gentlemen in the band play solos, and it’s as though they’re all playing four solos together, at the same time. I don’t think there will ever be a setup like that. Yet, it still sounds so simple. The Who were an early influence for me.

“Back in Black” AC/DC, 1980

This is the total reverse of The Who. It’s basically one man playing a solo throughout the song! It’s also an example of how the other members don’t need a lead part to shine out or anything. They know their job and play their parts to simplicity. “Back in Black” was also their tribute to [late AC/DC vocalist] Bonn Scott. This was a critical album for them after losing the main guy. I’m not surprised this album is still selling big.

“Lazy” Deep Purple, 1972

This song and Deep Purple is what got my love for [keyboardist] Jon Lord and the Hammond organ. It has such an amazing organ and guitar solo. It’s mostly instrumental, actually and it’s still so catchy.

“Light My Fire” The Doors, 1967

Here’s another song that increased my love for the Hammond organ. Also, a lot of people think the round glasses I wear are imitating the John Lennon style, but I actually first saw Jon Lord and Ray Manzarek wearing it. The glasses are my tribute to them. This is also the first song I took out when I played for Parikrama.

“The Number of the Beast” Iron Maiden, 1982

I was originally a bass player and this is my favorite song as a bassist. I actually started learning music really late and I didn’t even know a bass guitar had four strings! I loved jamming to this on a rainy night. In fact, we played this song with my school band. We took part in five competitions and won all of them. That’s how I got into music in college and eventually got in Parikrama. Otherwise, I would have been selling motor parts!

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“Dancing in the Dark” Bruce Springsteen, 1984

I heard this song again just earlier today, in the morning. I like a lot of his earlier material. It made him a household name, you know? If you go to a retro night anywhere in Delhi, I can guarantee this song will play. It never gets old.

“Top of the Rock” Rock Machine, 1988

I still remembering buying the Rock N Roll Renegade album cassette for Rs 25. I mean, who wasn’t into Rock Machine at that point? I still remember watching them when they played in our college. It was really crazy stuff.

“Freebird” Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1974

This is a heavy metal gaana if you ask me! For me, it’s on the same level as “Stairway to Heaven.” They’re both iconic songs that I doubt will ever be written again. From all the bands making music today, I don’t know how many will be remembered 40 years on, like all your One Directions and stuff. This song still gives me goosebumps.

“Panama” Van Halen, 1983

This one is from the album 1984, which was one of the first rock albums I’d ever heard. A friend had passed it on to me. It really started my love for rock. I still keep thinking, how does the guy play the guitar parts on this song? It’s fantastic.

“Don’t Leave Me” L. Subramaniam and Stephane Grapeli, 1984

I think this was out nearly thirty years ago. It actually started my love for the violin. Listening to people like L. Subramaniam is probably one of the reasons we have a violinist in the band.

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