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.

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Iñigo Coppel “En El Olympia (At L’Olympia)”

I have already written about Iñigo Coppel previously. He probably has more potential for success than any of the newest singer/songwriters in the current Spanish musical scene. His new album, already recorded, “Los Nobles Salvajes (The Noble Savages)”, which I was referring to in a previous article, is now in the final post-production phase and will be released after the summer. In the meantime, today I want to call my readers attention to his previous work, an excellent album produced by Jose Nortes and recorded live at the Old Artuset Tavern on December 27, 2013.

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The CD begins with the unusual cut “Iñigo Coppel Viaja a La Edad Media Y el Rock and Roll Salva Su Vida (Iñigo Coppel Goes to the Middle Age and Rock and Roll Saves His Life.)” It is an epic poem that gets you immediately trapped in a surrealistic frantic race where a hapless street singer narrates in first person what happened when, by an inexplicable phenomenon, he travels back in time to a medieval past. I don’t want to make a chronicle of the album or analyze here the songs or value them in any way. I’m just inviting you to listen to a disc which, in my opinion, it’s worth the effort and it is quite possibly that you may end falling in love with it, if you pay close attention to it. Just let yourself go with Iñigo’s overwhelming ability to convey emotions and tell stories with a sarcastic sense of humor. You might also feel the immense sensitivity with which he pours his truth on our souls to get to the core of things with unflinching honesty.

The song called “Tango Del Amante Traicionado (Tango of the Betrayed Lover)” leaves a bitter smile on the listener after the loud laughter caused by this final verse:

“People used to talk about faith!
This is just enough to make one lose his faith!
We live harassed by infamy,
These are times of chaste love and monogamy,
We cannot fall down any lower than that!”

Because, filled with nostalgia, you may think how true that sentence is: “only lovers believe in love.” And, after all, you may also think how pitiful betrayal is, even if you change the approach looking at it from the other side. Here the songwriter, with an incredible sense of humor, makes the poor guy, who was once the accomplice of a first disloyalty, become the true victim.

Then we find that unimaginable ballad, “Serenade for C”. The accurate description of that someone you silently love without understanding how it is possible that such a human being can live with the anguish she does. How can she feel sadness, pain, fear, anxiety and the infinite loneliness that surrounds her… despite herself and her perfect beauty? “Who can believe it?” But you understand, because through the author’s eyes you get to love her. It is just before the third stanza, while the magic violin of Manu Clavijo makes its appearance, when this serenade takes on the meaning and gets to string together all the elements, completing the image captured in the composition.

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Coppel’s guitar starts as an angry protest like one of those that Bob Dylan gave to the world in ’63. He certainly gets the same narrative strength, the same musical impact and the same conviction. Only difference is that the issue here is, if the murder of this man, who was executed by the narrator himself, made any sense. “Are you sure he was a fascist? Are you sure there will not be anybody else like him anymore?” The song not only protests against this macabre practice and makes us aware of the fact that they most likely chose the wrong victim, but also reveals that the choice, by the same token, could lead them to murder a half of the humanity.

The next track contains my favorite song on the album. Do not ask me why. Nevertheless, I will try to offer an explanation. “Acaba Conmigo (Just Kill Me)” is a sincere act of contrition and, as such, it is moving. Its incisive succession of chords captivates me. The lacerating tone of the melody, accompanying the recognition of guilt in the afflicted voice of Iñigo penetrates me as the sharpening steel of a razor. Assuming capital punishment as the only way of redemption wreaks havoc on my emotional integrity. And when, willing to pay with his life for the damage done, he exclaims: “Shoot me, what are you waiting for?… Just kill me at once,” I can’t help but tear my soul apart.

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As a statement of principles, as an act of faith in the function of the minstrel, Iñigo Coppel then recited this poem which goes straight to the heart. “En El Olympia (At L’Olympia)” tells of a lost faith recovered during the encounter with Gardel and all the great singers he met, when, as the song says, “The paths of life -listen to me, ‘mes amis’- they dragged my wounded soul to L’Olympia in Paris”.

“Laura y las Desventuras Del Joven Coppel (Laura and Young Coppel’s Sorrows)” narrates with a large dose of sarcasm of a first failed love affair which turns out to be a victory, a fulfilled purpose and a reaffirmation as a human being. And it does it with a rock beat of enviable skillfulness.

Again another chilling ballad this “Recuerda El Viento (Remember the Wind)” that the musician from Bilbao sings to a piano, reminding it once was a beautiful oak, that it was once free and noble. That was just until they tore it down to make it that lonesome piano which is now placed on a corner of the stage in a singer-songwriters cafe.

“Oiga, Que Hubieran Estudiado (Hey, They Should Have Studied)” precedes the last track on the disc. This is a unique blues that the author dedicates to all those women who choose the company of guys like him instead of those glamorous achievers and sophisticated musicians. Great tune that, filled with irony, deals with the question of success, the true value of artistic creation and the thorny issue of a shallow motivation to engage in this music thing to make a conquest of the opposite sex.

The final tune, entitled “If I ever die -God forbid-” is, as its name suggests, an artistic testament. That’s only in appearance; it is actually much more than that. It is like an examination of conscience; it becomes actually an account with the past to extract everything learned and to reassert his beliefs. Ultimately it is the confirmation of being on the good road, having come a long way, finally at peace with himself. As he says: “No one can steal from me what I sang, I learned to be on my side, I died quite sane and had a happy life“.

https://coppel.bandcamp.com/album/en-el-olympia

The Hypnotist Collector