Monthly Archives: September 2017

Write Here, Write Now: 9.29 – La Vida Es Un Carneval

Celia Cruz – La Vida Es Un Carneval

The third song from my Mexican colleague, and something completely different from those two straight rock tracks – the queen of salsa performing in what looks like a transatlantic version of Carry on Camping, very much channeling the spirit and performance of Barbara Windsor.

The tune has all the subtlety of a Benny Hill soundtrack with trumpet parps here there and everywhere and a constant lively beat, to which Celia adds her rich, confident voice.

I’ve tried dancing to salsa with mixed results, so anyone who can do so, like in this video, gets my vote. I’m sure it’s great  on the dancefloor, but it’s not my sort of music even given my suggested UK comedy associations.

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Write Here, Write Now: 9.27 – La Camisa Negra

Juanes – La Camisa Negra “c’mon c’mon baby

The second of three songs from my Mexican colleague is this hit (78 million views on this clip) from this Colombian singer and guitarist. In researching Spanish songs for this month, Juanes had a song (and a credit on another) on the Billboard all time top 50 Latin songs page (http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/latin/6760654/best-latin-songs-of-all-time) – “A Dios le Pido”, but I didn’t really like it that much.

This is a much better listen. The balance between strummed acoustic guitar and plucked electric guitar, balanced by bass is crunchy and satisfying like a well-prepared bowl of muesli, balanced but with highlights among the solid oats.

A song about wearing a black shirt in mourning for a lost love, it was taken up by Italian fascists, an association denied by Juanes. the words flow through constantly in rhythm with the music. each verse succeeding the previous without pause, tumbling into the chorus. And then it suddenly stops, for some unfathomable reason.

Just like I am going to stop – because I have nothing left to say about this sweetly-sung song about a sad subject.

Write Here, Write Now: 9.27 – Corazon Espinado

Santana ft. Mana – Corazon Espinado. “Como duele, me duele mamá

The first of three songs from a Mexican colleague. I’ve known of Santana for years though never consciously listened to his /their music – it was never introduced to me and I assumed it was the worst kind of self-indulgent Carlos Castenada-influenced stoner metal. Mana, I can’t say I’d heard of before this month of Spanish language songs, but the song that kept coming up from them (Mariposa Traicionera) did nothing to persuade me to devote an evening to them.

So here I am listening to both of them together. The expression about two birds and one stone comes to mind. Starting out with 6 seconds of simple salsa rhythms and piano, the power of the Santana electric guitar is soon unleashed and releases a flurry of power notes, even as underneath the conventional salsa continues, managing, moreorless, to tame Carlos’s OTT outbursts. Maybe I could have included this track in last month’s mashup thread?

Carlos looks like he’s having great fun, working up and down the fret board, plucking out as many notes as possible. Someone should maybe have told him that less is more.

That certainly seems to be the case for the lyrics – a simple set of verses about the agony of rejection (presumably).

Truth be told, after a few listens, it’s a bit of a grower. Not something I would turn the radio off for, were I to be browsing music stations and this came on, despite the ubiquitous presence of the OTT guitarist. It’s good to have a few of my prejudices corrected.

Write Here, Write Now: 9.26 – Obsesion

Aventura – Obsesion. “calmar mi ansia

Another new song for me, and a genre of music I am completely unfamiliar with – (urban) bachata. But that doesn’t matter – it’s an easy listen with lovely syncopated rhythms and guitar plucking, beautiful singing,

And, having listened to it a few times, the theme of the song is relatively unchallenging to follow, the lyrics being sung clearly and distinctly without difficult accents. It’s the sort of song I could imagine listening to happily in the background, the meaning of the language seeping slowly in as I focus on other tasks.

One frustrating thing about the song is that there is one instrument playing that has a tone and follows a rhythm and melody that I am sure I recognize from a song I have in my collection. I won’t be really satisfied until I work out what it is and what the possible connection between the two songs is. If I do, I will come back and edit the blog.

In a way, that’s a kind of obsession – a thought that won’t go away, an itch that needs to be scratched. There is a vision of a better world, of life being (slightly) improved if the action is carried out, and the insistence on doing it is physical, rooted in who we are – rooted like a determined weed that has squatted down into the soil and will not go, demands to be fed and watered. Is it better to dig it out and despoil the soil and vegetation around it, or to encourage it, that it might grow into something productive, or to pay it no mind, but feed the other plants around it to shade it out? In all things, I think the third option is best, although not the easiest to reach for or the simplest to effect.

Edit: I have found the song that was in the back of my head. It has a very similar melody, but knowing next to nothing about bachata, I ca’t say whether that coincidence is commonplace or unusual:

 

Write Here, Write Now: 9.25 – Jodida pero contenta

Buika – Jodida pero contenta

I think I love the sound of this woman’s voice. It is so strong, so rusted (yet not rusty), aching and rough like a complex peaty whisky an she sings in such a full-throated way.

I was recommended to listen to her at the beginning of the month, but to a different track – Mi Mina Lola, but when that track finished, this one started and I instantly preferred it for several reasons.  The words of the song look more interesting, and darker than that recommended. Buika is smiling and laughing in this one – clearly enjoying the performance  much more evidently, which makes it more of a pleasure to listen to.

The wild flamenco guitar helps too – it all captures some rare smoke in the bottle-shaped room they are sitting in.

I ‘m not going to learn much Spanish from this song – the words are too indistinct, and appropriately crude, I should add. But even when it rages wild, there’s still control there – magnificent.

Write Here, Write Now: 9.24 – Bésame mucho

Cesaria Evora – Bésame Mucho

Apparently the most-recorded Mexican song ever, this is the first version I have heard (after listening to versions by the composer Consuelo Velázquez and the Beatles), that kept the pace of the original, yet didn’t come across as a throwaway bit of easy listening pop.

Cesaria sounds as if she means it and the saxophone blast at the end of the song seemed to convey the release of tension after the song – that together with the insistently mournful drone of the violin. I like a good dirge.

Lyrically, it’s not up to much. Just a lot of kissing, Very romantic, and now I feel comfortable about using the Spanish phrase for Kiss me a lot in (im)polite conversation.

There’s something small to be celebrated from tonight’s listen at least!

Write Here, Write Now: 9.23 – La vida sigue igual

Julio Iglesias-La vida sigue igual.  “Siempre hay por que vivr por que luchar”

It was a coincidence (or was it?) that lat night I suggested I would post a track by Enrique Iglesias’s father tonight. I’d forgotten that Julio not only shares my first name (almost), but he was born 25 years before me to the day. So today is a a very good day to start exploring somebody who I have never listened to before, but who is reputedly “the most commercially successful European singer in the world“.

I chose a song that he sang in 1968, as that was my birth year. It’s a philosophical song, in both senses of the word – reasoning about some of the eternal questions, but also accepting that life goes on, not always as we would like it, but sufficient to keep us going.

Julio looks like the lovechild of Cliff Richard and Pierce Brosnan, though has a singing voice most importantly akin to that of Cliff than the mighty foghom, I could do without the perpetual backing singers,cooing and oohing, The backing music could be a dictionary definition of mundane and easy listening hell, I like the bit of grit that tuns out pearls. This has none of that.

As a result, it’s as slippery and as difficult to grasp as a glass climbing wall. I’m not sure if I had expected to uncover deep and meaningful, not to say mystical connections between this singer and myself, but for this, my birthday post, I’m not sure what to make of Mr. Iglesias.

Maybe more fruitful inquiry tomorrow?