Singer/Songwriter Stick To Your Songs

If you had not enough with the debate about Bob Dylan literateur,
Ignacio Juliá opens a new one: Bob Dylan painter!

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I’m translating here the gorgeous article I received via email thanks to one of the good and admirable friends I got in the Dylanite community, the well known writer, traductor and articulist, Antonio J. Iriarte. Thanks to him for providing me the access to this priceless text and, of course, to Ignacio Juliá, author of the present writing about the pictorial work of the recent Nobel Prize for Literature. The original paper written in Spanish will be found through the following link here supplied:

http://abcdefghijklmn-pqrstuvwxyz.com/cantautor-tus-zapatos/

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Here’s my own translation:

Singer/Songwriter Stick To Your Songs

I have forbidden myself to make a comment, even if only on the fly, regarding the absurd controversy generated around the long-announced Nobel for Literature to Robert Allen Zimmerman. So much nonsense makes me mad as I imagined, deluded, that the imbecilic abyss between high and low culture was definitely forgotten. And I want to make clear that I take the guy by high culture. I will only allow myself an indisputable axiom: the word was prior to literature, it was prior to the invention of printing, and consequently telling stories should never be confined to the occlusive stop caps of a book. And one more thing, come on! How many voices of the last century were more verbally piercing, inspired, playful, socially cathartic, gleaming, fraudulent, in human terms, than those of the so-called Bob Dylan?

It seems that I have always been behind something, anything in motion – a car, a bird, a leaf carried by the wind – anything that would take me to a better place, an unknown land downstream.” That’s what the elusive Nobel writes as an accurate self-portrait in the catalog of his pictorial exhibition The Beaten Path. What … how dares he? In addition to be an award-winning literateur, the simple musician, the rogue singer/songwriter … does he paint pictures? And still he sculpts, welder in hand, metal artefacts from recycled parts! I leave such imaginary comments, typical of the intellectual minds, as I cross the threshold of the exquisite Halcyon Gallery in London’s Mayfair. And I come across a monographic sample that is pure Dylan: pictures of ingenuous chromaticism capturing the secondary landscapes of his own America, the one he has been cruising tirelessly during the Never Ending Tour.

A certain America is visualized while strolling through the very noble rooms of the gallery, neat and empty except for the walls where they hang from large paintings to manageable sketches. It’s an America that the artist wanted to be as real as the one that survives in memory. “Your past begins the day you are born and not taking it into account is to deceive yourself about who you really are,” reflects Bob. Hence he decided, in that naturalistic appearance of his paintings, to hide what did not interest him, which is the modern and the advertising, that ugly commercial world. The framing of a hot dog stand on Coney Island completely omits skyscrapers that “litter the sky” just two blocks away. And the modest fishery in San Francisco’s Chinatown erases everything that came after that Victorian-style neighborhood was built. “These cold and gigantic structures are meaningless to me in the world that I see or choose to see, the world of which I am a part,” he confesses.

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The silent intention of he who spent two years sketching and painting these transitory natures was to contradict the modern world. Facing complex details that his hands could not reproduce the same way as his gaze transmitted to him, he applied the ‘dark camera’ method. He did it using an old Nikon with a wide-angle or else the screen of a small spoiled television. He paints with watercolors and acrylics because of its meager emotional load, although he does not see these materials as necessarily astringent in that sense. He represents reality without idealizing it, working with either universal or easily recognizable objects, framing them in a certain stability. It is necessary to depersonalize the portrayed subject, to strip it of any illusion, looking for common places located in a rationally defined space. Sometimes the focal point is centered, others it is placed in the distance. He longed to create images that could not be misinterpreted, that curse that still bears on him.

Those who accuse him of intrusism should know that he acted as painter and sculptor since the early sixties. There is the front cover of “Music from Big Pink”, debut of The Band, as first glance. The meaningful simplicity of these images – “roads, huts, jetties, cars, streets, marshes, railways, bridges, motels, bus stops, power lines, farms, theater marquees, churches, signs, etc.,” he enumerates – are the work of a curious and honest observer, still amazed by life, its truths and mysteries. What he sees connects with his inner vision of the big country, and it will be intuited by those who live immersed in his music. But what is important – another of his literary traits – is how these paintings neutralize reality, its strangeness. Endless Highway, his largest oil to date, finally symbolizes the endless road Dylan undertook.

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“Endless Highway,” painting by Bob Dylan

The Beaten Path represents a different theme from the everyday imagery of consumer culture,” he says. “There is nothing to suggest that these paintings have been inspired by the texts of Sigmund Freud or that are based on the mental images that happen in the dreams, there are no fantastic worlds, religious mysticisms or ambiguous thematic. It is not necessary for the viewer to ask himself in front of these pictures if they are real or imagined objects. If anyone visits the place where that image exists, he or she will see the same thing. This is what unites us.

We have forgotten that the true artist is such (an artist) in any project he may undertake. Dylan, who always seemed embarrassed by his abilities and therefore refused to discuss them with anyone or to charge them with presumption, is one of those chosen to transform a press conference into a fight half way between pugilist and Dadaist whose puns continue to be quoted half a century later; Make of a recital a kind of cosmic riddle in which one has to discover what he is really singing, questioning an entire industrial rock mythology; Or end folded to the order of a gallery owner to start painting pictures that redefine the canon of the Americana challenging with impressionist luminosity to the very Hopper.

It’s good that the good man did not heed the call of the Stockholm syndrome, that he “was not there,” as in the famous song. In the end, he did not even show up to pick it up. He must have had to be at work in his workshop. Fleeing forward. There is no other way.

Ignacio Juliá

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The Hypnotist Collector

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Cantautor A Tus Zapatos

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Quiero compartir aquí este magnífico artículo sobre Bob Dylan que me llegó vía email gracias a uno de los buenos y admirables amigos que poseo dentro de la comunidad Dylanita, el reconocido escritor, traductor y articulista, Antonio J. Iriarte. Gracias a él por proporcionarme el acceso a este impagable texto y, por supuesto, a Ignacio Juliá, autor del presente trabajo sobre la obra pictórica del reciente premio Nobel de Literatura, que encontrareis siguiendo el enlace aquí suministrado:

http://abcdefghijklmn-pqrstuvwxyz.com/cantautor-tus-zapatos/

Disfrutadlo!

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El Coleccionista Hipnótico

Klas Burling Entrevista A Bob Dylan Estocolmo 1966

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En 1966, el periodista de la radio Sueca Klas Burling entrevistó a Bob Dylan en un hotel cerca de Estocolmo.

Dylan – a mitad de la gira que produciría el reciente Live 1966 – The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – permitió a Burling escuchar algunos acetatos de su próximo álbum, “Blonde on Blonde”, a punto de ver la luz. El cantante había tenido una noche bastante movidita y, tal como recuerda Burling, “Estaba completamente fuera de onda. Cuando se quitó sus gafas oscuras, sus ojos parecían pasas. Fue la peor entrevista de mi vida.”

Hotel Flamingo
Solna, Suecia
28 de Abril de 1966

Entrevista con Klas Burling.

KB: Es un placer verle en Estocolmo. ¿Podría explicar un poco más sobre usted y el tipo de canciones que hace? ¿Qué opinión le merece la canción protesta?
BD: Um. . . Eh . . Dios. No, no voy a sentarme aquí y hacer eso. He pasado toda la noche en vela, me he tomado unas pastillas, y he hecho una mala comida, y he leído cosas molestas, y he estado por ahí fuera de paseo en coche a 100 millas por hora, y no pienso sentarme aquí y hablar de mí mismo como cantante protesta.

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KB: “The Times They Are A-Changin'” – esa se supone que era una canción protesta, ¿no?
BD: Oh, Dios ¿Cuánto tiempo hace de eso?

KB: Hace un año.
BD: Venga, vamos ¿Un año? No estoy intentando hacerme el cínico, parecer un mal tipo o lo que sea, pero sería un mentiroso o un loco si pretendiese seguirle el rollo en lo referente a eso. No es mi culpa si va con un año de retraso, ya sabe.

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Bob Dylan – photo by Jan Persson/Redferns

KB: ¿Es usted un poeta? ¿Un cantante? ¿O escribe poemas y luego les pone música?
BD: No. No lo sé. Es tan estúpido. No le haría usted esa clase de preguntas a un carpintero, ¿No es así?

KB: No sería igual de interesante.
BD: Es interesante para mi; y debería serlo para usted. ¿Qué cree que respondería Mozart si le hiciese usted esas preguntas? “Dígame, Sr. Mozart, eh…”

KB: Bueno, yo no le entrevistaría a él.
BD: Bueno, ¿Y por qué a mi sí, entonces?

KB: Porque estoy interesado en sus discos, como lo está el público Sueco también.
BD: Bueno, yo también estoy interesado en el público Sueco, pero estoy seguro de que ellos no quieren saber nada de todas estas sandeces. Los Suecos son más inteligentes que todo eso.

KB: ¿Conoce usted a muchos Suecos?
BD: A un montón. Da la casualidad de que yo también soy Sueco.

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                Bob Dylan on the cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine March 14, 1974 – issue 156                               illustration by Paul Davis           

KB: ¿Podríamos escuchar una canción?
BD: Inténtelo. Esta, verdaderamente, si que es una canción protesta. Precisamente esta en concreto, “Rainy Day Women,” resulta que habla de una minoría de lisiados y Orientales y del mundo en que viven. Es una especie de cosa al estilo Mexicano, muy contestataria. Una de las cosas mas protestatarias de todas las cosas contra las que yo haya protestado nunca en los años de protesta.

Este artículo apareció en el ejemplar del 21 de Enero de 1999 de la revista “Rolling Stone”.

Publicado “on line” como “Looking Back: Bob Dylan’s Disastrous 1966 Interview in Sweden”

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Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (written by Bob Dylan)

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone
They’ll stone you when you are walking home
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf

“Mujeres En Día Lluvioso # 12 & 35” (1)*

Bueno, te apedrearán cuando estés tratando de ser mejor
Te apedrearán tal como dijeron que lo harían
Te apedrearán cuando intentes irte a casa
Luego te apedrearán cuando estés allí completamente solo
Pero no debería sentirme tan solo
Todo el mundo debería ser apedreado (2) *

Bueno, te apedrearán cuando vayas andando por la calle
Te apedrearán cuando trates de guardar tu asiento
Te apedrearán cuando vayas caminando sobre el suelo
Te apedrearán cuando vayas caminando hacia la puerta
Pero no debería sentirme tan solo
Todo el mundo debería ser apedreado (2) *

Te apedrearán cuando estés desayunando
Te apedrearán cuando seas joven y capaz
Te apedrearán cuando estés tratando de ganar un dólar
Te apedrearán y luego te dirán, “buena suerte”
Te digo que, no debería sentirme tan solo
Todo el mundo debería ser apedreado (2) *

Bueno, te apedrearán y dirán que es el fin
Entonces te apedrearán y luego volverán
Te apedrearán cuando vayas en tu coche
Te apedrearán cuando toques la guitarra
Sí, pero no debería sentirme tan solo
Todo el mundo debería ser apedreado (2) *

Bueno, te apedrearán cuando camines totalmente solo
Te apedrearán cuando estés volviendo a casa
Te apedrearán y luego te dirán que eres valiente
Te apedrearán cuando te depositen en tu tumba
Pero no debería sentirme tan solo
Todo el mundo debería ser apedreado (2) *

 

Nota del Traductor:

(1)* en sentido figurado puede traducirse como: “Mujeres Melancólicas #12 y 35” o “Mujeres De Futuro Incierto #12 y 35”

(2)* en el argot juvenil se traduciría por: “Todo el mundo debería estar colocado (emporrado)”

El Coleccionista Hipnótico

Klas Burling Interview with Bob Dylan Stockholm 1966

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In 1966, Swedish Radio journalist Klas Burling interviewed Bob Dylan in a Stockholm hotel room.

Dylan – in the midst of the tour that would produce the recent Live 1966 – The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – played Burling acetates of his upcoming album, Blonde on Blonde. The singer had been through a rough night, and as Burling remembers, “He was totally out of it. When he took his shades off, his eyes were like raisins. It was the worst interview of my life.”

Hotel Flamingo
Solna, Sweden
April 28, 1966

Klas Burling interview.

KB: Very nice to see you in Stockholm. Could you explain a bit more about yourself and your kind of songs? What do you think of the protest-song type?
BD: Um . . . er . . . God. No, I’m not going to sit here and do that. I’ve been up all night, I’ve taken some pills, and I’ve eaten bad food, and I’ve read the wrong things, and I’ve been out for 100-mph car rides, and let’s not sit here and talk about myself as a protest singer.

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KB: “The Times They Are A-Changin'” – that was supposed to be a protest song, no?
BD: Oh, God, how long ago was that?

KB: A year ago.
BD: Well, c’mon, a year ago? I’m not trying to be a bad fellow or anything, but I’d be a liar or a fool to go along with all this business. I just can’t help it if you’re a year behind, you know.

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Bob Dylan – photo by Jan Persson/Redferns

KB: Are you a poet? A singer? Or do you write poems and then put music to them?
BD: No. I don’t know. It’s so silly. You wouldn’t ask these questions of a carpenter, would you?

KB: It wouldn’t be interesting the same way.
BD: It’s interesting to me; it should be just as interesting to you. What do you think Mozart would say if you asked him these questions? “Tell me, Mr. Mozart, er…”

KB: Well, I wouldn’t interview him.
BD: Well, how come you do it to me?

KB: Because I’m interested in your records, and Swedish audiences are, also.
BD: Well, I’m interested in the Swedish audiences, too, but I’m sure they don’t want to know all these dumb things. Swedish people are smarter than that

KB: You know many Swedes?
BD: I know plenty. I happen to be a Swede myself.

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                 Bob Dylan on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine March 14, 1974 – issue 156                          illustration by Paul Davis

KB: Shall we listen to a song?
BD: You can try. This one happens to be a protest song. This specific one, “Rainy Day Women,” happens to deal with a minority of cripples and Orientals and the world in which they live. It’s sort of a Mexican kind of thing – very protesty. One of the protestiest things of all things I’ve ever protested against in the protest years.

This article is from the January 21st, 1999 issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine.

Rereleased on line as “Looking Back: Bob Dylan’s Disastrous 1966 Interview in Sweden”

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Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (written by Bob Dylan)

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone
They’ll stone you when you are walking home
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone

Everybody must get stoned

Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

The Hypnotist Collector

 

 

 

 

Ojos Verdes

Mi madre habría cumplido 100 años el 26 de noviembre pasado. Me habría gustado tener este artículo listo para esa fecha en particular, pero como ya dije en mi último post, “Sisters Of Mercy“, he tenido problemas y carecía del estado de ánimo adecuado para hacer nada, sino dejarme llevar. De todos modos, quiero hacerlo ahora, porque puede que no sea hoy su cumpleaños, pero es el mío (eso era el 13 de Diciembre, fecha en la que publiqué el artículo en Inglés) y apuesto a que se sentiría muy honrada de que haya decidido celebrar mi cumpleaños con este sentido homenaje a ella. Era una fan fiel de Conchita Piquer, como ella solía referirse a la gran cupletista (la gente acostumbraba denominar a la artista por el diminutivo de su nombre de pila). Solía contarnos que mi padre y ella asistieron a un concierto suyo en un gran teatro de Madrid y ambos quedaron impresionados por su carisma en el escenario. Obviamente, su actuación causó un gran impacto en ellos, especialmente en el ánimo de mi madre. Con mucho alborozo nos relataba el éxito que Concha Piquer tuvo en su debut internacional en L’Olympia de París, cuando estrenó la canción “El Relicario”. Siempre recordaba como la entusiasmada audiencia se puso en pie para dedicarle una estruendosa ovación.

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Esta última canción que menciono fue grabada más tarde por Sara Montiel para una secuencia de su película “El ultimo Cuplé“. Una versión de estudio diferente fue lanzada por Columbia Records en su LP publicado como “Sarita Montiel canta las canciones de la película El Ultimo Cuplé” que supuestamente debía ser la banda sonora de la mencionada película, aunque en realidad eran grabaciones de estudio diferentes (o tal vez las mismas retocadas). El LP fue lanzado en Europa por London Records según se advierte en las fotos aquí abajo incluidas.

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Esta es la versión que aparece en el LP de Columbia: “El Relicario” (en realidad cantada por Sarita Montiel, aunque figura en youtube como interpretada por Concha Piquer). Como ferviente admiradora de Conchita Piquer, mi madre solía recordar muchas de sus canciones e incluso canturrearlas a veces. Sin embargo, es posible que no lo creáis, pero no poseía ningún disco de ella. Así que, un día, cuando ya fui adulto, tuve que ir a comprarle uno para regalárselo por su cumpleaños.

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 “No Te Mires En El Río” era una de mis canciones favoritas del álbum que compré. A mi madre le encantaban todas sus canciones. El tema favorito de ella era esta copla que ahora comparto aquí, “Ojos Verdes”:

 

 

Ojos Verdes (Valverde, León y Quiroga)
Concha Piquer

Apoyá en el quicio de la mancebía,
Miraba encenderse la noche de mayo
Pasaban los hombres y yo sonreía,
Hasta que en mi puerta paraste el caballo.
“¡Serrana! ¿Me das candela?”
Y yo te dije: “Gaché,
Ven y tómala en mis labios
Y yo fuego te daré”.
Dejaste el caballo y lumbre te di
Y fueron dos verdes luceros de mayo
Tus ojos pa mí

Ojos verdes,
Verdes como l’arbahaca,
Verdes como er trigo verde,
Y el verde, verde limón.

Ojos verdes, verdes
Con brillo de faca
Que s’han clavaíto en mi corazón.
Pa mí ya no hay soles, luceros ni luna,
No hay más que unos ojos que mi vía son.

Ojos verdes,
Verdes como l’arbahaca,
Verdes como er trigo verde,
Y el verde, verde limón.

Vimos desde el cuarto despertar er día,
Y sonar el alba en la torre la vela
Dejaste mi brazo cuando amanecía,
Y en mi boca un gusto de menta y canela.
“¡Serrana! Para un vestío
Yo te quiero regalá”
Yo te dije: “¡estás cumplío!
No me tienes que dar ná”.
Subiste al caballo, te fuiste de mi
Y nunca otra noche más bella de mayo
E güerto a vivir.

Ojos verdes,
Verdes como l’arbahaca,
Verdes como er trigo verde,
Y el verde, verde limón.

Ojos verdes, verdes, con brillo de faca
Que s’han clavaíto en mi corazón
Pa mí ya no hay soles, luceros ni luna,
No hay más que unos ojos que mi vía son.

Ojos verdes,
Verdes como l’arbahaca,
Verdes como er trigo verde,
Y el verde, verde limón.

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Esta es la traducción al inglés que hice para la versión inglesa de este artículo:

Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes) (Valverde, León y Quiroga)
By Concha Piquer

Leaning on the door of the brothel,
I watched the night of May light up.
The men passed by
And I smiled,
Until at my door you stopped the horse.
“Serrana, give me the candle”
And I told you: “Man,
Oh come take it from my lips
And I will give you fire.”
You left the horse
And I gave you light
And they were two green May stars your eyes for me.

Green eyes,
Green as the basil.
Green like green wheat
And green, lemon green.

Green eyes green
With knife glitter
That are stuck in my heart
There is no sunshine anymore for me,
Neither stars, or moon,
There are only those eyes that are my whole life.

Green eyes,
Green as the basil.
Green like green wheat
And green, lemon green.

We saw from the room wake up the day,
And to sound the dawn from the watchtower.
You left my arm when the sunrise came
And in my mouth a taste of mint and cinnamon.
“Serrana, for a dress I want to give you.”
I told you, “You’re done,
You don’t have to give me anything.”
You climbed the horse
You left me
And not another night
More beautiful of May I’ve ever lived again.

Si alguien puede ayudarme a mejorarla para que las metáforas y las frases más evocativas sean inteligibles en la lengua de la Rubia Albión, lo agradecería enormemente.

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Otra canción muy popular de Concha Piquer era “Tatuaje“. La letra habla de un marinero que vino en un barco de nombre extranjero con un corazón tatuado en el pecho; Cómo ella le pidió un beso y se enamoró de él. Desde entonces iba buscándolo en cada puerto preguntándole a todo el mundo por su amado. Historias románticas que ella siempre cantaba con su conmovedora voz.

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Pero mi querida madre no era la única de la familia que amaba a Concha Piquer. Otra de sus hermanas, tía Margot, era también una incondicional admiradora de la asombrosa cupletista. Tía Margot murió a los 99 años, unos pocos días antes de llegar a los 100. Desafortunadamente, en sus últimos años, padeció la enfermedad de Alzheimer. No podía recordar el último minuto o lo que había sucedido unos minutos antes, pero aún así su mente seguía trabajando con precisión en el momento presente, permaneciendo siempre ingeniosa y sorprendentemente audaz. Con frecuencia consciente de su olvido, solía sentirse desorientada y llena de ansiedad. Sin embargo, solo tenías que empezar a cantar una canción de Conchita Piquer y ella inmediatamente recordaría la letra y la cantaría contigo. Eso le haría feliz, permitiéndole olvidarse de sus problemas. Al igual que a mi madre, le encantaba “Ojos Verdes”. Muchas veces incluso empezaba a cantar otra de sus favoritas, “No te Mires En El Río”, y se sentía en la gloria. Compramos unos cuantos CDs de la cautivadora artista a la que tanto amaba, y escucharlos era la felicidad para ella siempre desde entonces.

Como ejemplo de la agudeza mental que mi tía conservaba, incluso durante la última etapa de su enfermedad, contaré aquí una anécdota que ya he contado muchas otras veces: Una vez que fui a visitarla, sintiéndose un tanto confundida, me preguntó: “¿Tú quién eres?” Yo entonces repliqué, “¿No sabes quién soy?” Ella se quedó pensativa un instante e inmediatamente respondió, “Uno de nosotros”. Era realmente una dama extraordinaria, incluso amaba a los Beatles. Pero nadie es perfecto; Nunca le gustó Bob Dylan.

El Coleccionista Hipnótico

 

 

 

Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes)

My mother would have been 100 last November 26th. I would have liked to have this ready for that particular date, but as I said in my last post, “Sisters of Mercy,” there were issues and I wasn’t in the right mood to do anything but let myself go. Anyway, I want to do it now, as it may not be her Birthday today, but it is mine and I bet she would feel honored that I’m going to celebrate my Birthday with this heartfelt homage to her. She was a huge fan of Conchita Piquer, as she used to refer to the great cupletist (people used to call the artist by the diminutive of her first name.) My mom used to tell us that my father and herself attended a show of hers in a big theatre in Madrid and both of them were impressed by her charisma on stage. Obviously, her performance made a huge impact on them, especially in my mother’s mood. With much enthusiasm she used to tell us the striking success Concha Piquer had in her international debut at L’Olympia in Paris, when she premiered the song “El Relicario.” She always recalled the excited audience standing up to applaud in a thunderous ovation.

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This last song I mentioned was later recorded by Sara Montiel for a sequence of her movie “El Ultimo Cuplé (The Last Cuplet).” A different studio version was released by Columbia Records in her LP printed as “Sarita Montiel canta las canciones de la película El Ultimo Cuplé (Sarita Montiel sings the songs of the film The Last Cuplet)” which was supposed to be the soundtrack of the mentioned movie, though they were different studio recordings. It was released in Europe by London Records as seen in the pictures below.

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This is the version released in the Columbia LP: “El Relicario” (actually by Sarita Montiel, though it is described in youTube as performed by Concha Piquer.) Being such a huge admirer of Conchita Piquer, my mom she used to recall many of her songs and even crooned them at times. However, you might not believe it, but she didn’t own any record of hers. So, one day, when I was already adult, I had to go and buy one for her.

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“No Te Mires En El Rio (Don’t Look at Yourself on the River)” was one of my favorites on the album I bought. My mother she loved everyone of her songs. Her favorite one of hers was this one I’m sharing here, “Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes)”:

 

Ojos Verdes (Valverde, León y Quiroga)
Concha Piquer

Apoyá en el quicio de la mancebía,
miraba encenderse la noche de mayo
pasaban los hombres y yo sonreía,
hasta que en mi puerta paraste el caballo.
“¡Serrana! ¿me das candela?”
y yo te dije: “Gaché,
ven y tómala en mis labios
y yo fuego te daré.”
Dejaste el caballo y lumbre te di
y fueron dos verdes luceros de mayo
tus ojos pa mí.

Ojos verdes,
Verdes como l’arbahaca,
verdes como er trigo verde,
y el verde, verde limón.
Ojos verde, verdes
con brillo de faca
que s’han clavaíto en mi corazón.
Pa mi ya no hay soles, luceros ni luna,
no hay más que unos ojos que mi vía son.
Ojos verdes,
verdes como l’arbahaca,
verdes como er trigo verde,
y el verde, verde limón.

Vimos desde el cuarto despertar er día,
y sonar el alba en la torre la vela
dejaste mi brazo cuando amanecía,
y en mi boca un gusto de menta y canela.
“¡Serrana! para un vestío
yo te quiero regalá”
y yo te dije: “¡estas cumplío!
No me tienes que dar ná.”
Subiste al caballo, te fuiste de mi
y nunca otra noche más bella de mayo
he güerto a vivír.

Ojos verdes,
verdes como l’arbahaca,
verdes como er trigo verde,
y el verde, verde limón.
Ojos verdes, verdes, con brillo de faca
que s’han clavaíto en mi corazón
Pa mi ya no hay soles, luceros ni luna,
no hay más que unos ojos que mi vía son.
Ojos verdes,
verdes como l’arbahaca,
verdes como er trigo verde,
y el verde, verde limón.

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English Translation:

Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes) (Valverde, León y Quiroga)
By Concha Piquer

Leaning on the door of the brothel,
I watched the night of May light up.
The men passed by
And I smiled,
Until at my door you stopped the horse.
“Serrana, give me the candle”
And I told you: “Man,
Oh come take it from my lips
And I will give you fire.”
You left the horse
And I gave you light
And they were two green May stars your eyes for me.

Green eyes,
Green as the basil.
Green like green wheat
And green, lemon green.

Green eyes green
With knife glitter
That are stuck in my heart
There is no sunshine anymore for me,
Neither stars, or moon,
There are only those eyes that are my whole life.

Green eyes,
Green as the basil.
Green like green wheat
And green, lemon green.

We saw from the room wake up the day,
And to sound the dawn from the watchtower.
You left my arm when the sunrise came
And in my mouth a taste of mint and cinnamon.
“Serrana, for a dress I want to give you.”
I told you, “You’re done,
You don’t have to give me anything.”
You climbed the horse
You left me
And not another night
More beautiful of May I’ve ever lived again.

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Another popular song by Concha Piquer was “Tatuaje (Tattoo).” The lyrics talking about a sailor who came in a ship of stranger name wearing a heart tattooed in his chest; how she demanded a kiss from him and fell in love with him. Since then she went looking for him in every port asking everyone for the one she loved. Pretty romantic stories she always sang with her poignant voice.

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But my beloved mother wasn’t the only one in the family to love Concha Piquer.  Another one of her sisters, Aunt Margot, was also an inconditional fan of the astounding cupletist. Aunt Margot died at 99, just a few days before reaching 100. Unfortunatelly, in her last few years she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. She could not remember the last minute or what was happening a couple of minutes before, but still her mind kept working accurately in her present moment, being always wit and amazingly bold. Being frequently conscious of her forgetfulness she used to feel anxious and disoriented. However, you just had to start singing a song by Conchita Piquer and she would immediately remember the lyrics and sing along with you. That would make her happy, allowing her to forget about her troubles. Just like my mother, she loved “Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes).” Many times she could even start singing another favorite of hers, “No Te Mires En El Rio (Don’t Look at Yourself on the River),” making her feel so good. We bought a few Cd’s of the inspiring artist she loved so much, and listening to them was ever happiness for her since then.

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As an example of the sharpness my aunt still kept, even through her latest disease, I will tell here an anecdote I have told many times: Once I came to visit her and, as she was feeling a bit confused, she asked me, “Who are you?” Then I asked back, “Don’t you know who I am?” She thought about for a second and immediately replied, “One of us.” She really was a cool lady, she even loved the Beatles. But nobody is perfect; She would not like Bob Dylan.

Sisters of Mercy

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Leonard Cohen passed away just a month ago. Those were sad news added to many other sad news we have had along the year and to the destabilizing results of the last USA elections. I wanted to honor him with a brief post right away after his death, but as Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and for several unnamed reasons I was caught in a dumb mood, unable to do anything but wandering all around from one place to another. But it’s time now to tell something about and I don’t want to miss the chance, so here they come a few words in memory of the great singer/songwriter, meaningful visionary of the last century. I believe Leonard Cohen was the sweetest deeper songwriter of the popular music. Bob Dylan might have been the greatest storyteller of Rock’n’Roll, maybe even the most striking of the lyricists, but the greatest poet beside him, only one who could have shadowed Dylan once in a while, will always be Leonard.

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From “Songs of Leonard Cohen” album I choose “Sisters of Mercy” as one of the most representative songs of what I consider the magic and mystery behind Cohen’s lyrics, spreaded through his voice and intoxicating music. It was used as part of the soundtrack in the 1971 Robert Altman film “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” This is a live version of the song:

Sisters of Mercy

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh yes I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.

Yeah you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, and I think I can see how you’re pinned:
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness tells that you’ve sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
Oh they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them pretty soon.
Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
Ahh we weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Leonard Cohen himself has told many times the story about the two girls who inspired him this song. Rolling Stone magazine website published this article: “Watch Leonard Cohen Read Surreal Poem in Animated Interview” including the video in which the singer-songwriter reads his surreal poem “Two Went to Sleep” and tells the bizarre origins of the folk classic “Sisters of Mercy.”

Here is a link to the story Roz Warren wrote many years later, oddly talking about a similar encounter to the one described in the song she and her friend had with the artist in 1975: My Night With Leonard Cohen.”

Another Cohen’s song I wanted to mention is “Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1” since it contributed to the legend of the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York. The song, later to become “Chelsea Hotel #2,” was dedicated to Janis Joplin. It was written at the hotel after the affair they had when they met each other in the elevator, according to Leonard Cohen. Later at some point he declared that he ever regretted to have exposed the name of her related to that song.

Leonard Cohen Performs At Leeds Arena

Many artists, musicians and writers visiting the hotel made of it a cultural and artistic center of the bohemian world in New York. Regarding the Chelsea Hotel, also Bob Dylan wrote some revealing lines on “Sara,” the last song of his “Desire” album. This is what the lyrics said:

I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells
I’d taken the cure and had just gotten through
Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel
Writin’ “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” for you.

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Smoking A Cigarette in 1980

To finish up this remembrance of the incredible Leonard Cohen, I didn’t want to leave out this unforgettable speech he gave at the Principe De Asturias Awards ceremony (Prince of Asturias Awards,) so here it comes for all of you to watch and listen to: