Milarepa reviews Sudhananda’s latest album: “He has created something beautiful, straight from his heart to ours. I think everyone will find something on this cd to enjoy and be touched by.”
I first met Sudhananda in 1988 when I was coordinating the Osho Commune music in Pune, India. He walked through the door of the department when it was upstairs in Francis House, a long-golden-haired skinny guy with an American accent, handed me a tape and said, “Hi. My name is Sudhananda. If there is a chance to play music, I’d like to join. Here’s a tape of myself” – and walked out. What impressed me was his demeanor, his way of connecting. He wasn’t pushy. Just clean and clear. And then of course I heard his tape and realized in a moment he really knew how to play.
This was the beginning of a long friendship that has lasted until this day. He came along at a time when Osho was creating the Mystic Rose meditative therapy, which in the beginning all commune workers participated in. The musicians in our department came out of that process transformed and the Buddha Hall music went through the first of many renaissances. Sudhananda was very much a part of this shift and played by my side for countless Osho discourses.
Another burning memory I have of him was the evening Osho left-the-body. The musicians played for eight continuous hours that night: first in Buddha Hall, then the procession with Osho’s body to the burning ghats, and finally deep into the night celebrating with the thousands gathered around the fire. In the end as the embers glowed softly, in the sweet intimacy of those few remaining, I stood with my guitar singing the love songs of the sangha.
Suddenly I heard behind me an unmistakable guitar and voice. It was Sudhananda, right where he always is in the mix – centered in his generous heart, softy supporting, never asking for any recognition or something in return, just sharing his love and expertise from a space of pure gratefulness and devotion. I have come to learn in my life that people who are really good don’t need to blow their horn. They know who they are and don’t waste time trying to impress others and show off. Sudhananda shines with this quality.
I am a maverick musician. I never had a formal training in music. I learned to play by ear. God knows, I wish I had learned to use a metronome earlier in my career. Sudhananda is my opposite. He is precise and very in-tune. He approaches the guitar like a virtuoso pianist, crafting beautiful chords and melodies the way I hear music in my dreams. In spite of his amazing talent, he never once criticized or put down my playing to make himself shine brighter. We are an unlikely musical duo whose mutual love for the master makes it all work. To play with him, and count him as a friend, has been one of my life’s most precious gifts. I have learned so much from him. And continue to learn! I sometimes tremble sharing a new song or idea with him, bracing myself for his inevitable straight feedback. But the many times he has helped me craft a better song, a more tuneful melody, a more joyous harmony – are countless.
Because we are close, people often confuse our voices and playing. Many don’t know he is the genius behind some of the most-loved Osho songs. ‘Just Say Yes’, ‘Rising’, ‘Celebrate this Ecstasy’ are just a few of his brilliant compositions. Since years I travel the world singing his songs, witnessing his music inspiring, touching hearts, and lifting spirits everywhere. They have become part of a masterful legacy, woven into the tapestry of Osho’s vision. I consider myself honored and fortunate to be able to sing and share them. And he is just the kind of person who knows this is the highest royalty for a musician.
On this note, he has sent me a new album of his songs. He calls it simply: Celebrate. On first listen, I am impressed by its freshness. To hear something really original in this day and age is indeed a joy. The songs are well-conceived. His guitar playing and tone are of course impeccable; his voice clear and on-point. The woman accompanying him on vocals, Lucia Lilikoi, perfectly complements his tonality. I think it is true for many when hearing a new cd: there are always a few favorites one zooms in on and wants to hear again and again. These days I am drawn to Track 4, ‘Rejoice’. It is just a fun song to sing and play along with. I also like the follow-on, ‘We Are One Heart’. It is what I consider classic Sudhananda: beautiful chord voicings and vocals. In short, divine.
Some years back I remember him telling me he was learning the Logic recording software and creating his own home studio. Logic is something I have only recently delved into so I know firsthand what it involves. To hold down several jobs like he has been doing while at the same time carving out time to create a cd – it’s a lot of work. But he has done it and done it well. He has created something beautiful, straight from his heart to ours.
He’s much too modest to blow his own horn, so I am going to do it for him. I am going to add in a separate post a little slideshow tribute on his behalf showcasing one of his ‘new’ songs, ‘We Are One Heart‘. I think everyone will find something on this cd to enjoy and be touched by. If you like what you hear, please visit his website to get a taste of the remaining 11 tracks and to purchase the cd: www.sudhananda.com.