DANIEL VIGLIETTI - LA CANCION DE PABLO [URUGUAY, 1970]
“Pablo is a man that knows that life is changing, the comrades are with him marching toward the dawn. And if they put him in chains, others will stand up demanding liberty.”
One of my favorite songs lately, Daniel Viglietti’s folk ballad Pablo’s Song is a story of the emotional departure of a man from his home and family to join the guerrilla struggle. Viglietti, being from Uruguay, is likely referencing the experience of many of his comrades that left their homes to join the Tupamaros, a former
urban guerrilla movement that is now a member of the ruling Frente Amplio coalition, though the lyrics remain generalized enough to refer to any number of armed struggles across the continent which, in the tumultuous era when he wrote this song, were ubiquitous across Latin America.
In each verse, Viglietti points out that the repressive state forces will come looking and asking for him in his house, trying to find information on his whereabouts to track down the notorious guerrillero. He instructs his wife to resist their interrogation, and to remember that he is off fighting in the name of freedom.
I’ve posted a couple of songs by Daniel Viglietti before, and I’m always surprised how many people don’t know about him. He rivals Victor Jara for his poetic finesse and composition, and his influence in the development in nueva canción is only slightly less than the Chilean legend. Anyway, below are the lyrics in Spanish and with an English translation, give it a listen! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me, and definitely check out past episodes of this series here.
Compañera, vendrán a preguntar por mí; Si yo he sido, dónde estoy, si usted sabe adónde fue su marido. Usted levanta la vista, mira y calla, está pensando: Pablo andará por la tierra, su bandera enarbolando, Una bandera de trigo, de pan y de vino, levantando. Por el camino, a los hombres irá enseñando la libertad.
Compañera, buscándome vendrán aquí, Mi retrato, una carta, algún signo para dar con mi rastro. Usted recuerda mis manos, ya no piensa, está soñando: Pablo se fue navegante por un mar de sangre joven Con su rebelde destino, sin pan y sin vino andar luchando. Su corazón guerrillero olvida en las calles la soledad.
Compañera, vendrán a preguntar otra vez, Si me ha visto, si le escribo, si usted sabe adónde fue su marido. Usted los mira a los ojos, con ternura va pensando: Pablo es un hombre que sabe que la vida está cambiando, Los compañeros lo llevan hacia el alba caminando. Y si le ponen cadenas irán otros brazos por libertad.
Pablos hay muchos y andando por la tierra van cantando Con sus banderas de trigo, de pan y de vino, van luchando. Pablos hay muchos y andando por la tierra van cantando.
Comrade, they will come asking about me if I’ve been here, where I am, if you know where your husband went. And you lift your gaze, look, are silent, and think: Pablo will walk the earth, hoisting his flag; a flag of wheat, bread and wine will be raised. Along the road, he will be teaching men about freedom!
Comrade, they will come looking for me, my portrait, a letter, any sign to give away my trail. And you will remember my hands, no longer thinking, only dreaming: Pablo left to navigate in the sea of young blood with his rebellious destiny, without bread or wine, continuing to fight. His guerrilla heart forgets loneliness in the streets.
Comrade, they will come asking again if you have seen me, if I write you, if you know where your husband went. You will look into their eyes, with tenderness and think: Pablo is a man that knows that life is changing, the comrades are with him marching toward the dawn. And if they put him in chains, others will stand up demanding liberty.
There are many Pablos and they sing while marching the land, with their flags of wheat, bread and wine they go forth fighting. There are many Pablos and they sing while marching the land.
Lo que soy yo mismo no puedo verlo
lo que veas de mí, no puedo esconderlo
ni siquiera cargo con mi armadura
el que pueda herirme hallará en mi hechura
sangre mestiza sin condición,
que mantiene abierto mi corazón.
Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez (born November 29, 1946 in San Antonio de los Baños, La Habana, Cuba) is a Cuban musician, and a leader of the nueva trova movement.
He is known for his highly eloquent and symbolic lyrics. Many of his songs have become classics in Latin American music, such as Ojalá, Playa Girón and La maza. Rodríguez is well known for socially critical yet ambiguous lyrics, which have raised the suspicions of both the Cuban government and Cuban-American groups on various occasions.
Pablo Milanés, Cuba’s 2nd most famous folklorist of the post-1959 era. Famous for classics like Yolanda, Yo Pisaré las Calles Nuevamente, Si Ella Me Faltara Una Vez, Si el Poeta Eres Tú, Canción [De Que Callada Manera], and El Breve Espacio en que No Estás, and my personal favorites No Vivo en una Sociedad Perfecta, A Salvador Allende en su Combate por la Vida, Háblame de Colores, Buenos Días América, Mi Nostalgia, and Como una Bendición.
Aunque las cosas cambien de color, no importa pase el tiempo. No importa la palabra que se diga para amar. Pues, siempre que se cante con el corazón, habrá un sentido atento para la emoción de ver que la guitarra es la guitarra, sin envejecer.
SONG OF THE DAY: AMPARO OCHOA - MI ABUELO [MEXICO, 1975]
In the fields, the cries of the campesino are heard once again, “The land should belong to those who work it!”
Continuing with the theme of Mexican grandfathers from the last song of the day, this episode is going to focus on a revolutionary song by Amparo Ochoa that goes into a bit of the history of my beloved homeland, told through the experience of three generations of activists. Today’s episode will be shorter than usual, but if this is your first time
seeing a Song of the Day from me, I encourage you to dig through my archives and read/listen to some other pieces I’ve written. If you look on the right-hand column of my page, you can even listen to some of the most recent songs I’ve posted without having to navigate away!
Amparo Ochoa was one of Mexico’s more famous folk singers, and we previously got a chance to listen to her music about a month ago, when I posted her corrido in solidarity with the Frente Sandinista’s 1978 assault on the National Palace, a f***ing badass song if there ever was one. She was known in Latin America for her regular use of traditional Mexican sounds and styles in a nueva cancion genre dominated, at the time, by musicians from the southern cone of Latin America. She passed away in 1994 at the young age of 47 from stomach cancer, but not before leaving an impressive discography and a timeless legacy for future generations.
This song, succinctly titled My Grandfather, tells the story of three generations of Mexicans who have to fight for justice. We hear of a grandfather who fought alongside Benito Juarez against the French interventionist forces, a father who fought alongside Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution, and a daughter who has to fight for land reform despite all the sacrifices her family has made in the struggle for justice.
Musically, there are a few unique things here to notice. First, we can hear that Amparo repeats each line twice, something we have yet to observe in any featured songs. It is not a widespread technique in Mexican music, but it can be heard in a few traditional classics, such as Acábame de Matar. Second, we’ll notice that it features a triple meter, which is common in a variety of Mexican styles including all Mexican sones that I can think of; huasteco, jalisciense, jarocho, etc.
Here are the lyrics provided in Spanish with an English translation below. Enjoy!
Mi abuelo mató franceses y mi padre federales, y yo tan sólo heredé un jacal y tres nopales.
Mi abuelo fue juarista y mi padre zapatista, y yo siembro en tierra ajena y eso que soy agrarista.
Mi abuelo y mi padre murieron por la justicia, yo pienso que esa señora los jacales no visita.
A mi abuelo lo enterraron en olla de barro negro, a mí padre en un petate, más no al derecho del pueblo.
En el campo vuelve a oírse al campesino gritando, “La tierra debe de ser de quien la esté trabajando!”
La nueva trova es música tradicional inspirada por la Revolución cubana. Como músicos protestantes de los 1960’s alrededor del mundo, los compositores de la nueva trova movimiento enfocaron sus letras y literatura en problemas sociales serios. Aaron Levinson, ganador de un premio Grammy, visita a raíces latinas de World Cafe, una serie sobre la música del mundo hispanohablante, para presentar a los trobadores pioneros de la nueva trova, y a los intérpretes de esta música hoy. Hemos incluido una lista de nuestras favoritas canciones de la nueva trova en Spotify. Mira aquí.