Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Te doy una cancion

My earliest memory is of my mother playing the guitar in our front porch. I must have been about 3 or 4, and I remember her playing a song that to this day I can recognize though I didn’t hear it again until I was almost 20 years old- which is also when I found out what it was.

She sat on the floor wearing her khaki shorts and a delicate white blouse and played as if she were serenading the moon. It was beautiful. Every once in a while she would sing a line or two “…y yo no tengo mas que un unicornio azul…” but it was mostly her playing that hypnotized me.

That was the last time she ever played.

When I was 4, my mom made me start taking piano lessons. I hated them. My mom swears that the only reason why I hated them was because being as rebellious as I was, I had to say no to everything; but in reality, the reason was that I don’t have piano playing hands. My hands have always been so small that after an hour or two of piano playing they hurt. But I digress. I took piano lessons until I was almost 17 years old.

After my last rehearsal, I never came near my piano again for years.

When I was 18, I moved to Santo Domingo. For the few years that I lived there I was so unhappy that I just wanted to die; but like they say, God closes a door but he/she opens a window. Every step of the way I had friends to help me through it. I was lucky.

The first Dominican I ever dated, A.P., who incidentally wasn’t Dominican, was a bit of a bohemian. We met at a bar that was very bohemian and it was there that we usually hung out. One day, out of nowhere I heard a song I didn’t really recognize but the style seemed REALLY familiar: “El tiempo pasa nos vamos poniendo viejos y el amor no lo reflejo como ayer…”. A.P. had said that it was
Silvio Rodriguez, a Cuban singer.

Too many
Presidentes later, I went home and without thinking about it I sat down on my piano for the very first time in years. The song I played was the song my mother herself had played when I was a little girl and though I didn’t know all the lyrics, I did remember “…y yo no tengo mas que un unicornio azul…”

The next day, my mom asked me when I became a fan of
Silvio Rodriguez, to which I answered “I guess I always was”.

For two nights straight now I’ve dreamt that He who must not be named was hooked up with this girl who is just about the biggest airhead I know. In my dream, there are no voices, just this background music playing.
Silvio Rodriguez singing “…si miro un poco afuera me detengo la ciudad se derrumba y yo cantando…”

I don’t know what this means. Hopefully that won’t happen. But I think that if I had to use Silvio's words to describe how I feel about this all I can say is “
Ojalá se te acabé la mirada constante, la palabra precisa, la sonrisa perfecta. Ojalá pase algo que te borre de pronto: una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve. Ojalá por lo menos que me lleve la muerte, para no verte tanto, para no verte siempre en todos los segundos, en todas las visiones: ojalá que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones”.


Edwin R. said...

One of my favorite songs from Silvio Rodriguez is "Te Doy Una Cancion"... As a matter of fact it may be the only song that I have memorized by guy...

Te doy una canción
y hago un discurso
sobre mi derecho a hablar.

hmmm... To Blog or Not to Blog!?!

KARAKALA said...

Wow... I will buy his album just to listen to that song. Perhaps I can learn a thing or two on how to forget about my loss.

And perhaps even practice more on my Spanish writing.

Thanks for sharing that with us Annush.

Jonas said...

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

annush said...

Wish you were here by Pink Floyd. One of my all time favorite songs.

Jonas said...


I practice it on guitar. Your post made me think of it.

LocuTus of Borg said...

Well, I don't know Spanish, so don't know the words. Guess I will have to pick up that CD and listen to the song. Thank you for sharing your experience though.

On a side note: My aunt started teaching me piano when I was 4. Around 8 or 9 I hated it, but my parents kept me playing. I would go to lessons and cry. Then around 13 or 14 I found that girls thought it was cool ;). Then around 16 or 17 I really enjoyed playing and still play today. I have a piano at home and wish that I could play more often, but it is usually only a few hours a week. Music is such a wonderful thing!

Luzbeíta said...

Yo pensaba q "Ojalá" era 1 canción de amor, hasta q 1 amigo me contó q en realidad es 1 canción escrita para Anastasio Somoza, dictador nicaragüense. Cuando dice "1 disparo de nieve" se refiere a 1 tipo de proyectil inventado x los alemanes p/ penetrar blindajes (nieve es la forma en q se pronuncia o parecido, no sé cómo se escribe; lamentablemente sólo en los primeros discos se encuentra la palabra escrita correctamente) Otra referencia directa es cuando dice "a tu viejo gobierno de difuntos y flores". Slds.

Bracuta said...

Not only that, but down here in the DR it was an anthem against Balaguer's regime, hence the reason why Sonia Silvestre and all those other revolutionary artist sang it.
As for me, whenever I have boy problems, I ride around in my car and hit repeat on my iPod, singing it at the top of my lungs...

Grant said...

Oh, boy. A chance to dust off my Spanish.
"Hola. Me llamo Pedro. Me tango un lapiz. Me lapiz es negro."
Okay, now I'm tapped out.

Walter said...

All I can say is,

H_E_n_R_Y said...

Damn, I forgot how great "Ojala" is!! Thanks for the reminder! "Unicornio" sounds good, too.

Oh yeah, and long live "Wish You Were Here," my favorite song to play on guitar...

cuidate. chao.

Bracuta said...

Muy bien hecho Grant! (That would be "very well done Grant!). Just a question, though:
I thought your name was Grant, not Pedro.
Do you dance tango with your black pencil?
I'm sorry, I had to do it... he he he!
Actually, the possesive form of "me" would be "mi" instead of "me", to have is written "tengo" as "tango" is a Argentinian music.
As for everything else, your spanish is very good!
If you need extra spanish lessons, don't hesitate to ask. I promise I won't charge!

Mona Buonanotte said...

What a beautiful, beautiful song! Music is so much better in a foreign tongue! I will search out Silvio muy pronto!

AVA said...

I got goosebumps just reading this post.
What a magical memory the one ofyour mother playing the guitar and singing Unicornio Azul. I'm a big fan of Silvio Rodriguez, and he's one of the reasons why I've always wanted to learn to play the guitar, I guess it's never too late, is it?

AVA said...

Hey! wish you were here is one of my favorites as well!!

Libélula said...

"Oleo De Mujer Con Sombrero"...definitivamente una de mis canciones favoritas de Silvio...Lo adoro! Su música tehace sentir tantas y tantas cosas juntas...Ya hay pocos músicos como él...que canten entregando el alma en cada canción...

"...Una mujer con sombrero,
como un cuadro del viejo Chagall,
corrompiéndome al centro del miedo
y yo, que no soy bueno, me puse a llorar.
Pero entonces lloraba por mí,
y ahora lloro por verla morir..."

Johnny said...

aloha mamasita

tu pantalones esta en fuego!


whitneydonkey said...

My grandfather, in Corpus Christi, Texas, used to wake us up by blasting a Freddy Fender song
La Poloma Blanca or something like that. It was a record so it was really scratchy. We would all start laughing and sing really loud. Songs are so cool that way.