Respect the Dead with Anoushka Shankar

Death is something that we all have to deal with until we don’t. Which is when we’re dead.

As with most things, it’s the swirling vortex of implications and the psychological need to always act in favour of self-preservation that has us going into debt for a moulding flesh sack we once called ‘grandpa’.

Elegies are sonnets to our own pathetic fears and the more flowery-a way one can phrase the sentence “grandpa was an alcoholic who once fingered me in the basement”, the more pronounced and deep-seated those fears are revealed to be.

That’s a hurdle we won’t ever be able to avoid. It’s in the construction of the story of an unimpressive, fractured human that beauty is created. So, essentially, the funeral industry will always have us by the nutsack.

But the living do get our own back in ways more practical than minstrelsy. And that is by sucking as much credibility, noteworthiness and residual wealth as we can out of the dead. Your mother may have been a cold, emasculating bigot, but damn she had a nice car and some pull with the local planning council. So the dead have their uses, and perhaps there is no situation in which that is thrown into sharper relief than the progeny of famous musicians. Take, for instance Anoushka Shankar.

Boundary-crossing, multi-Grammy-nominated sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar returns to the Proms, showcasing two of her most recent collaborations. In the centenary year of her father Ravi Shankar’s birth and with the aim of presenting ‘ragas and the sitar in a new light’, she combines recordings of some of his works both with her own sitar improvisations and with live electronics by composer/producer Gold Panda.

We’re not saying she’s coasting entirely on her dead father’s name. She undoubtedly has talent of her own. But when you’re trying to plug sitar music to a Western audience, you’re going to have to siphon as much out of the corpse of the guy who was once on The Simpsons as you can.

Groovy, man.

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