While I might wish to have lived as colorful a life as Richard Burton, the explorer, poet, and translator of The Arabian Nights, such was not my fate. However, it occurs to me that I act in a similar, but far more humble capacity when writing about Bollywood: I explore a genre little known to the average Westerner, react sensitively, I hope, to its often-poetic atmosphere, and attempt to translate my enthusiasm into lively prose for the amusement of a receptive audience of music lovers. Two threads connect my earliest recollections to my eventual appearance in Fanfare. First, a predilection for music that manifested itself in infancy: I’ve played the piano throughout my life, have taken up the guitar and flute, and have dabbled on the sitar. My musical education followed a predictable, classical syllabus, but never inhibited my love of improvisation or my fascination with the music of other, more “exotic” cultures. Second, seeing The Thief of Baghdad (1940) in childhood imprinted a taste for extravagant spectacle, lyricism in song and story, and the mysterious East that has remained in force to this day.
Concerning Fanfare, I had been a subscriber for many years, never thinking that I might one day be called upon to add my thoughts to its impressive contents. Indeed, whenever I contemplated writing about music, I considered the possibility too daunting to be pursued seriously. It still strikes me as an impossible undertaking, in which the writer seeks to evoke the magic of music with the relatively crude, no matter how artfully contrived, artifice of words. That said, I’m consistently awed by the skill, insight, and knowledge of my fellow reviewers, and can only hope I deserve to be read in their company. The events that led me to contribute to Fanfare are easily summarized: I discovered that Joel Flegler and I shared a passion for Indian musical “picturization,” which led him to suggest I grace the pages of Fanfare with my opinions. In such fashion I, who had been known to speak somewhat rashly and contemptuously of critics and their ilk, became one of that often unfairly denigrated fraternity. “Thus the whirligig of time brings on its revenges.” I’ve enjoyed my tenure at Fanfare immensely, have heard and seen many things that would otherwise have eluded me, and will likewise find many new marvels to add to this pleasurably acquired treasury. I trust that you who faithfully devour the text of The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors will be similarly rewarded.