AN ALBUM BY ARUN LAKRA/SUBPLOT A
Bonbonnieres. And songwriting.
Thirteen years ago, Arun Lakra didn’t have a clue about either.
He zapped eyeballs all day, wrote screenplays all night, and was quite content in his obliviousness.
Then he met her.
And one fateful mind-numbing Saturday afternoon seven years ago, he learned. About bonbonnieres. And about centerpieces. And the up-do. And most importantly, he learned what most men learn sooner or later… that weddings were not about the groom.
And he was cool with that. He didn’t care whether the tablecloths were beige or taupe or even eggshell. He also learned (quickly) how to say “I don’t care” in several ways that didn’t sound like “I don’t care”. (eg. “You have much better taste than I do”, “I love them both/all”, “There’s a great sports bar down the street with amazing tablecloths.”)
Arun decided to defer every decision about the wedding to his bride.
With one exception. The first dance song. And it would be a surprise.
And she was cool with that. She may have said, “I don’t care”.
That night, he was driving home and heard Brian Wilson interviewed on the radio.
And he said to himself (and accidentally out loud, within earshot of the creeped-out lady who had pulled up beside him at the red light), “I know… I’ll write our first dance song. How tough could that be?”
Only slight problem… he had never written a song. Oh, and he couldn’t sing. And because he had sort of lied to his grade seven piano teacher who thought he was the world’s most untalented pianist ever… (“I guess if you’re practicing four hours a day, we should probably bump it up to four and a half hours”) thereby depriving himself of the Juilliard education he desperately needed if not deserved, his musical abilities had never realized their full potential. (Or worse, maybe they had.)
Undaunted, Arun put pen to paper and wrote some words. They rhymed. Kind of. Then he called Paul, his pal of many hats and years.
Paul tinkled on the piano (as they say in Britain after one has had one too many pints and can’t find the loo) and voila (as they say in France while they offer you a croissant de chocolat and regarde de condescension… aka combo #3), they had a song.
Wes, friend of many talents and stories, played bass. Paul sang. Bobby recorded. And Arun did what he later deduced to be producing.
And she married him. And they danced. And she was surprised, in seemingly in a good way (the opposite way of that “surprised” guy in that Joe Pesci scene in Goodfellas).
And Arun kept writing songs.
There was no particular goal or method or rock star fantasy/delusion. His fantasy/delusions remained more filmy than rocky.
Still, it was part fun, part catharsis, part creative release.
He wrote words. He learned how to write music. He worked at it. Not quickly. Not exclusively. But seriously. (But, of course, not too seriously.)
Over seven years, Arun wrote and recorded a bunch of songs. To varying degrees of completeness and goodness. With lots of help from many talented and generous friends and musicians.
And a couple of years ago, Arun realized that he had inadvertently produced an album.
This is it.
Thirteen years ago, he was young, single, drove a two-seater convertible, didn’t glare at people for talking too loud in a movie theatre, would not have considered a two-goal performance in a rec soccer league game to be worthy of a mass email, and could not infrequently stay up past 11 pm.
One wife, two kids, some physical and psychological grey hair, and a minivan later, this album tells the story of those years.
Like when Pluto got demoted and he felt an inexplicable need to launch a musical protest into the universe (Pluto Rocks).
Or when his wife was expecting their first child and he wrote a heartfelt song for their unborn daughter (Starry-eyed) who popped out a few months later… as a boy.
Or when he found himself throwing up in a toilet and realized in a moment of epiphany and drool that even Bill Gates puked alone (I Puke Alone). Sure you can hire someone to clean it up, but the actual puking into a toilet… it’s every man, woman, and child for himself.
Or when he heard himself complaining about some kids playing their music too loud (Cranky) and it didn’t sound pleasant or familiar.
Or when he got strip-searched at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris (Two Empty Seats) and it wasn’t because of his attire - unless terrorists are camouflaged in Aloha shirts these days. (And no, it wasn’t the fashion police, but thanks for asking.)
Or when one too many people wearing one too many colored ribbons interrupted one too many dinners with an uninvited doorbell (I Don’t Care) and the ulcer-inducing raging inner conflict that ensued.
This album is messy. Like puke. Like kids. Like a doctor's handwriting. Like ageing and disease. Like his life. And maybe yours.
And this accidental album is a mere subplot.
Not so much the centerpiece. More like a bonbonniere.
I Don't Care: Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Contest - Finalist - Best Newcomer
Saturday Night: Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Contest - Finalist - Best Newcomer
Cranky: Billboard Songwriting Competition Honourable Mention