My Parents Never Listened to this Music: 70s Spanish Pop Ballads

Porque Te Vas scene from the film Cria Cuervos

My love for cheesy Spanish 70s pop ballads started with this song, one of my all time favorites, Jeanette’s Por Que Te Vas. My introduction to this wistful melody was through the dark and melancholy 1976 film, Cria Cuervos. In the movie, the young girl Ana uses the song as way to escape the dreariness and sorrow of her family life (an allegorical stand in for fascist Spain). Ana’s father, a fascist military man has recently died (she believes she has poisoned him) and her dead mother who died a few years before, comes to Ana as a phantom memory. Her authoritarian aunt and dying grandmother are left to look after her but her real life lessons come from the anarchistic housekeeper. In the midst of this turmoil, young Ana begins to mix reality with fantasy and at times, her older self of the future speaks to her:

I don’t believe in childhood paradise, or in innocence, or the natural goodness of children. I remember my childhood as a long period of time, interminable, sad, full of fear, fear of the unknown.

In this context, the song is transformed and the lyrics “Hoy en mi ventana brilla el sol/ y un corazon/ se pone triste contemplando la ciudad/ por que te vas” take on more meaning than Jeanette could ever have imagined.

The director of Cria Cuervos, Carlos Saura went on later to make a number of fantastic flamenco themed movies.
[As an aside, for another take on childhood-turned-on-it’s-head movies, I totally recommend Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, an all time favorite of mine. Not for those that are squeamish, easily offended or have delicate sensibilities. Coincidentally, in both films the young protagonists have interactions with little critters. In Tideland, Jeliza-Rose is taunted by a squirrel and in Cria Cuervos, Ana is attached to a pet guinea pig. ]

On to more music!>>>>>
(warning, lots of videos after the jump)
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Casa Xochiquetzal

Emergency bar in a combi/mini-bus, Nezahualcoyotl

It’s rare when something can move me to tears…okay, not that rare. I’m a regular crybaby but I couldn’t stop the tears after watching this short documentary on a sex workers retirement home (well, despite their age, some have not yet retired) in the Tepito neighborhood of Mexico D.F. It’s produced by Vice but don’t let that dissuade you, it’s very well done.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Favorite Video of the Week: La Mentira

La Mentira-Javier Solis

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about music, when I made the most stupid remark ever. I said, “I don’t like romantic music.” I regretted it as soon as I said it. I absolutely love Boleros, music that can only be described as romantic. I love Flamenco, heart-wrenching melodramatic Italian arias, Kings of Convenience, Bossa Nova and I love this song! It’s one of my mom’s favorites and she had me sing it on her new karaoke machine the other day (much more fun that it sounds!). I’m familiar with the tune but it wasn’t until I actually attempted to sing it that I realized what a beautiful piece of music it is, very different than other Musica Romantica melodies. Javier Solis’ interpretation is my favorite.
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Rainbow Brite 2

Rainbow Brite 2

A photo I took for my 10th grade photography class at Fairfax High School Arts Magnet. Perhaps it need not be said but I had many adventures with these girls, lots of intense experiences for our age.
At school we were sometimes called The Rainbow Brites after the popular kids cartoon. In the punk/hardcore scene we were called The Hollywood Girls, usually by the suburban, OC punk girls who hated us. Yeah, good times.

top row (l to r): Izzy, Alice, Nicole
bottom row (l to r): Silja, Lee, Callie, Lisa, Claudia

Favorite Video of the Week: Arthur Russell

WILD COMBINATION, A portrait of Arthur Russell

Bits of songs float – through the radio, at parties of people who I don’t know very well, in ethnic restaurants while I sit eating, through open windows of cars driving by, and I listen. Sometimes I become so immediately enamored with the song, that I will do anything to discover it’s name or the artist. Other times, like in the case of Rita Mitsouko, I wait 20 years for this information. Luckily for me, Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals 1974-Vol 1 (please click to listen) was immediately findable thanks to internet sleuthing skills.
There are a few songs, like Instrumentals that stir my soul, that resonate in that place in me where music goes to be enjoyed. One day I’ll make a list of these songs and play them one after one until the harmonious nature of the melody and whatever it is that makes me tick, combine into one long joyful audio experience.
A little on Arthur Russell:
He was one of those genius musicians who cultivated their art in the heady days of 1970s New York. Like many of his peers, he passed away young but fortunately, his amazing music lives on. The clip above is from a new documentary of his life and work.