In 2020, watching any new television series or movie was almost impossible. The mental inertia to consume fresh content was strong. But even before 2020, my go-to music playlist had not been updated in years. It was the same old set of songs since undergraduate days, already dominated by songs sung by SP Balasubrahmanyam, KS Chithra, Hariharan and a few other select group of singers. Familiarity was comforting.

On the night of September 25, the day he died, I decided to create an SPB-only playlist. It was long overdue. Of course, there are curated playlists available online. But the process of creating the playlist felt personal and a chance to go back and listen to lost favourites, relisten to the classics and what not.

That night, it could be termed a coping mechanism. However, the playlist was not just a short-term exercise. In 2021, it kept me good company throughout. Most nights, in an attempt to find sleep, turning to his voice became Plan A, B, C and D. It became the go-to distraction from work. Road trips, now possible again, were incomplete without listening to this curated playlist of popular songs and lesser-known gems.

Idho Idho En Pallavi, Sigaram (1991).

One of the most repeated tributes to SPB in 2020, cliched as it may be, was that though he might not be around, thousands and thousands of his songs will be. It rang true. And in 2021, there was the chance to add just one more song to the list as a Rajinikanth-starrer that released featured a song that he had recorded earlier. To hear SPB return through his trademark “Rajini intro song” was a worthy addition to the playlist that has become a constant source of solace.

Annaatthe Annaatthe, Annaatthe (2021).

Read all the articles in the Comfort zone series here.