Thursday, June 15, 2006

misty watercolor memories

So, according to Mo I'm acting strange... maybe another funk is coming on (or the last one never left me), maybe it's just PMS. Today I decided to listen with El Niño to some of the music I grew up with, and I found myself getting very choked up. He, of course, was totally dancing all over the place.

My dad loved music, and I've mentioned before that we had a routine on Sunday mornings of listening to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and then an assortment of other kinds of music -- classical, jazz (Daddy loved Miles Davis and Benny Goodman), the Beatles, and even some amazing recordings of Russian marching bands. While my mother's taste in music stagnated in the rarefied offerings of PuertoRican public radio (the worst most obscure operas anyone could ever dig up), I got to listen to everything else with my dad. He even bought me the Foreigner 4 album, Queen's Greatest Hits, Prince's Purple Rain and Cindy Lauper's She's So Unusual. But my first and somewhat secret love is the nueva trova music that I heard at parties, at the university (where my parents worked), everywhere I went in PR as a child of the late 70's and early 80's. Let me tell you, I have no idea how that 8-track of Haciendo Punto en Otro Son's debut album survived being played over and over and over, until I memorized all the songs and came to believe they were thinking of me while writing them.

I wish I knew how to set things up so I could share an online "mix tape" of this music with everyone, just like Dutch did. Oh well, I cannot... this is something else I'll have to learn how to do, right? I hope anyone out there reading this will feel like going through the trouble of discovering the music created by the incredibly talented musicians of the Haciendo Punto ensemble, as well as solo artists Pablo Milanés, Víctor Jara, and Mercedes Sosa. They are my favorites, the ones I listened to when I was a rebellious teen in Puerto Rico, a lonely college student in Manhattan, a melancholy and out-of-my-element single mom in Sacramento, and now... whenever I need to feel my roots, feel my heritage in ways I don't yet know how to explain.

The CD we listened to today was Punto Final, which was recorded live during what was supposed to be the final reunion concert of Haciendo Punto. My then-boyfriend and I stood in line because each person was only allowed to purchase two tickets -- the concert took place in the relatively small venue of the University of Puerto Rico Theater, once home to the Casals Festival -- and we'd promised my grandfather and great-aunt that we'd take them. The experience of being in that theater with them, of watching my Über-conservative great-aunt mouthing the words to every one of their beautiful, patriotic (and liberal, pro-independence, possibly communist!) songs with tears in her eyes while they performed is something I'll treasure forever. When I listen to that CD, I feel like I'm there again. It makes me hope for my country, even as my heart breaks and I'm reminded of how things are now, all these years after those songs were first written. I'm glad I can play it for my sons, so I can give them a taste of Puerto Rico, like when I cook rice & beans for them. Maybe they'll be the future of my beautiful island...

***

Speaking of music, I finally listened to Pink Martini this weekend, and I liked it. If you're not in the mood for Latin American protest music, this may be a more lighthearted and fun choice for you.

Carry on, then!

1 comment:

PBfish said...

Heh. We have a lot in common. Peter and the Wolf was a mainstay when I was little. My Dad is a huge fan of classical music and an opera fanatic.
My maternal Grandmother is Puerto Rican and my Dad taught Latin American Literature. So I remember big house parties with everyone listening to lots of music from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and all over Latin America. Imagine my surprise when I was marching against the war in San Francisco and the crowd began to shout "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!", an Inti Illimani (Chilean band) song I loved when I was little, and I could say it right along with them. :)
Sure wish I had learned more Spanish, though...