Opinion Gurmukh Singh's LP Records - History Resonates In Barnala


Jun 1, 2004
Lending an ear to Gurmukh Singh Lalli's collection of long-playing (LP) records is nothing less than a historical milestone.

If you're curious to know what Mahatma Gandhi felt about Kashmir just 75 days after Independence or listen to the famous 'Tryst with Destiny' speech delivered by Jawahar Lal Nehru on the midnight of August 14, 1947, or get inspired by what Subash Chandra Bose said as way of public addresses between 1938 and 1944, Gurmukh Singh's enviable collection has it all, and more.

A resident of Naiwala, a tiny village in Barnala, Punjab, Gurmukh Singh is a middle-aged banker - hardly a profile for somebody who is the proud owner of about 25,000 LP vinyl records, many of them rare.

Apart from the ancient gramophone discs, there are many maidens in his sound assemblage: the first recording of the Sikh Ardaas in 1905 (Gurmukh claims not even the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee possesses this); the first-ever recording on gramophone by Gauhar Jan; the first duet to be recorded on LP ...

Interestingly, this banker is said to have many discs that even the recording companies don't have a copy of.

Gurmukh says students researching folk music or other artistic forms regularly approach him for help. The records lie carefully in two rooms that are specially prepared to stock them.

'Though Mahatma Gandhi's Kashmir speech delivered on October 29, 1947 and the iconic 'Tryst with Destiny' are very close to my heart, the address by Gandhi and Nehru to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the UN charter 'Peace Through Freedom' is also special. Apart from these, I have Bengali poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu's English verses, speeches of Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Hussain in a single vinyl record,' the proud owner elaborates.

Gurmukh says his repertoire has records that he claims were played in India and Pakistan, respectively, to keep the soldiers' morale high during 1971 war. 'While Pakistan used 'Kyon jhooth boldi ae Akashvaniye, zara sach vi taan bol khind pund jaaniye' ('Why do these Indian airwaves lie, at least say something true') to pep up the mood, the Indian song was 'Nikal gaya diwaala Pakistan di taqdir da, len aaye Kashmir, de gaye Dargah Haji Pir da' ('Pakistan's destiny seems to have gone phut. They came to take away Kashmir, but they left us the Dargah of Haji Peer)',' he relates.

Grown up on Punjabi music, Gurmukh says he consciously began collecting records in 1977 after sensing that their popularity was on the wane. With the passage of time, LPs became his passion. 'Radio stations in Canada, U.S. and India have asked me for old records that are not even found in archives,' he says, claiming his is probably the largest private collection in the country.

Money has never been a consideration for this gramophone record fan. 'I once spent Rs 20,000 on a rare one. Many-a-times, I travel to far-off places to lay my hands on the LP,' Gurmukh explains, adding that the total expenditure on his collection has been close to Rs. 2 million [ $ US 40,000].

As the soft strains of Amrita Pritam's Aj akhan Waris Shah nu rise in the background, Gurmukh says the singer had rendered the timeless number for Punjabi-Pakistani film 'Kartar Singh'.

'An all-star festival record featuring greats like Louis Armstrong, Maurice Chevalier, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Nana Mouskouri keeps the music going,' Gurmukh adds.

[Courtesy: The Times of India]

July 20, 2010


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ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
Remarkable collection it is.