Love, a mixtape

This boy I liked sent me 'Sledgehammer' by Peter Gabriel because of which I never spoke to him again. I read into every word of the lyrics and (over) analysed the song because I really liked him. But this particular paragraph doomed our blossoming romance forever;

Show me round your fruit cage
'Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be.

Many months later, someone else made me a CD of songs by Télépopmusik. The songs had no lyrics. But the music sounded like light and air. I couldn't analyse him, but I knew I liked him. We've exchanged a hundred or more songs and a few vows, since then.

 I have always felt that the songs of your relationship are the most beautiful way to describe the love you shared. The song you heard when you first met, the song you made love to, the song you danced to at your wedding, the song he sent you after a particularly awful fight, the song you heard when it was raining outside and the one that makes you dance no matter how old and tired your bones are. Put those songs together and you have put together your entire relationship. 

But love is also pain, anger and heartbreak. Nick Cave and PJ Harvey's murder ballad on betrayal is in my opinion, the most perfect break up song for anyone seething with anger. But like me, I am sure everyone has just about fifteen such recommendations of their own. Break up songs are that intimate genre of music where everything seems to have been written especially for you. And while those songs won't fix your broken heart, they might just tape it together momentarily. 

And although break ups have anger and passion, the intensity of feeling fades. Loss is what puts your love for someone in perspective. Some songs remind you of people, times you shared and love that will never come back again. You might have moved on, but the song and its memory can take you back to where you were and fill you with a strange sort of longing. Or even leave you with the trace of a fond memory, turning back time for all of three minutes. 

It is truly incredible how music can make you feel. In this video a quiet old man suffering from Alzheimer's becomes animated and alive when his favourite song is played for him. "What does music do to you?" someone asks the old man. "It gives me the feeling of love and romance," he replies.

For our latest story, Soup interviewed people in different stages of love, from being together, to being single, to reminiscing about old and forgotten lovers. We asked these people to share a defining song from their relationship with us. And with those songs, we have attempted to measure love, with music.

It is the sheer bluntness of the song I can relate to, love is pleasure and pain at the same time.

Priya Singh, The Fall, Rhye

I don’t know what it evokes in me. It’s the emotion that it is sung in, it resonates with me, I love to sing it. It’s my ongoing love song.

Shweta Kaushik and Vinay Venkatesh, Music sounds better with you, Stardust

Our differences are so pronounced that we really look like we are from different sides of the tracks. I sometimes feel that we may have preconceived notions of what each one of us would like. But sharing music is beautiful, it’s almost like baring your soul and breaking all those stereotypes. And the fact that we both love this song and this band was quite amazing.
I like trance, I like energy, I don’t want to be tied down. I don’t know about love but this music is right for me, for now.
Being in Ogilvy Delhi about a decade ago was like being in college. We were a bunch of loonies passionately creating ads while playing love songs on our PCs. It was really this magical time of multiple crushes, life-changing heartbreaks and romantic ideologies. It was right there that the sparks flew between us. I would sit on one side of the floor in the Creative department while he was on the other end in the Account Management section. He would play this song every time I passed his cubicle. I would take at least ten minutes to cross the area, slowly enjoying the unsaid attention.

Jai Bhadgaonkar Tum se hi

When we were dating, I would miss my girlfriend when she wasn’t around but I would sort of feel her presence everywhere. I can’t really explain it. But it made me realise that love is more than just physical attraction. When you really love someone, they seep into your life and become a part of you. I used to play this song when I missed her.
Our wedding came at the end of a very emotionally exhausting few months and they were finally taking their toll during the festivities. We could barely get through a half hour together without going for each other’s throats. Hemant had said he wanted the first song to be a surprise and in keeping with how everything else was going, I was fully prepared to hate it. I think I probably even did in its first few seconds because the choice was so unexpected, but a few more seconds in and I felt a weight lift off somehow. It’s nice to suddenly remember why you love someone, better when it’s on your wedding day.

Sandeep Madhavan In spite of me, Morphine

Sometimes you can’t help but wallow in self pity and this song is for those dreary days.
There was this girl, once.

Rifat Jahan and Javeed Ahmed, Chaudvin ka chaand, Mohammed Rafi

Javeed Ahmed- We had an arranged marriage, we fell in love only later. I want to dedicate this song to her. It only reminds me of her.

Photographed by Anish Sarai

Written and compiled by Meera Ganapathi