Sessions: Raúl Ciro
Today, December 9, Raúl Ciro Hernández Gómez (1964-2019) would have turned 55 years old. He did not want to wait and escaped before, leaving many orphaned of his infinite affection, his sensitivity to the surface of his skin and his unrepeatable music. In order not to lose memory, here I leave him speaking alone. They are excerpts from messages exchanged for almost two decades, with detours, digressions, returns, and reflections. Here, in particular, comment on its beginnings and references. (Humberto Manduley) (Humberto Manduley)
Fragments of Raul: Ciro crack, crack, crack…
Part I: This is how it happened
Look, brother,I'm going to take this as if I was carving next to you in the cabin and the mic was open, I can imagine your face. Although to be realistic I will tell you that, right now, sitting in my wonderful corner, trying to shape my mental straw, I listen to Siglo XXI[i]on Radio 3, one of the few things that bind me to this world "of the creation". I know you will say that I wonder as usual, but no.
A while ago (2002, I think) I worked in a nursing home; I had to sweep the patio with dry leaves, almost always on a damp ground, keep the lawn with the proper cut, paint a room, fix the drain in a bathroom; In short, do pure maintenance.
Believe it or not, I made some friends there (...), but while I was doing my schedule, I was always hooked by headphones to the radio, listening in the morning, of course, this program I am talking about, and I had a very good method: he always walked with a notebook and a pen. Every time I listened to a song that impressed me, I stopped doing what I was doing and took note, even if it was pure phonetics of group names, records. Then once back to "home" in Granada, I entered this data into my favorite search program on the PC and what a wonder! Everything worked: Sparklehorse, Boards of Canada, Sigur Ros. To this day, all my discoveries using this method have sustained my imagination in a similar way to when I was very unconscious of what I perceived, while my mother listened to the radio that was made in the sixties in Cuba ("I'm here, here to love you ... ").
I never had a guitar until one day when I cheated on my parents with the story that I had sold my bike, buying one of the classic Russian guitars that swarmed around. Curiously, this one, which a neighbor sold me, was acoustic, but they had placed a very curious microbeam, used steel strings had little resonance and tuned quite well. Many times I tried to plug it into my father's Philips radio and it worked at times.
At that time there was at home, before the Russian, a replica of Creole guitar but as for a seven-year-old boy. It was a gift our grandparents had given my sister. They were three single brothers who occasionally looked after us, educated and spoiled us. He said it was from the Matamoros; He had wonderful guitars. I remember that one had its name gold plated on the shovel. When I was a child, he never let me touch his treasure, only my sister was allowed. You can not imagine the damage that at that time did to me, I would have a few years and the music was considered by me as belonging, not as an aspiration. I felt very strange things then that I now explain.
The sound of nylon strings never motivated me. You have to play the guitar very well to get the best out of it. I do not know if I am unfair, but I do not remember making the jump from the nylon to the steel. At that time the ropes that could be bought were metallic, also handmade. I speak almost of the eighties when a friend of the pre had a Creole guitar that he lent me a season and, of such tension, it lost the bridge. Ah, now I remember that I asked a classmate, Rodolfo Frómeta, a classical guitar student, to give me a light, and he did the unspeakable, but when he saw what I wanted to learn he was demotivated.
In 1983 I met a Chilean girl, Paula, and my life changed impressively. She was my muse for many years. Her brother Pablo had very good recorded music; He made very rare connections from his recorder and the Electron or Caribe TV of that time. These TVs had a line output for recording, but somehow it could be used as input, transforming them into amplifiers, mono, of course. Well, Pablo's recorder was cute too, but his line out was stereo. Then, making a forced balance between it and the TV, connecting each channel to each of the two, managed to amplify in stereo. In those few sessions, I met several Led Zeppelin albums, The Beatles, the Icaic Sound Experimentation Group, Pink Floyd. Hearing that way they bubbled something deep inside me..
Paula lent me a chrome tape cassette with a copy of The Beatles' white album and, well, there was no tape recorder in my house, but she left me a little one. I invented some headphones with phone capsules until, I don't know how, I got ones, and I listened to it until satiety. I think that with Julia and Rocky Raccoon, from that album, "I learned" to play the guitar. Trying to translate them was my obsession back then. I made some ominous versions, but very funny.
It is not necessary to mitigate, except if it is about me, but I think I got to all these frustrated attempts of versions from the misery. I consider that all my songs are the result of an alternative of not being able to "shoot" the songs that I liked about my idols.
Luis Gómez, a friend of Alejandro Frómeta, lent us the LP Hunky Dory Hunky Dory by David Bowie, and by then while we were recording the Superávit Éxito clip, it occurred to me to put a text (to Arenas Movedizasfrom what I imagined to understand in the original, and things I would like to add. Later I asked for a translation from Pablo (Herrera), and between Frómeta and I, we shaped the new text (Arenas movedizasthat we recorded.
Mirtha and Raúl were always in my desperate searches for inaccessible music. Every time I used my father's Silvertone record player and played his singles, I only found one from Elvis, another from Bill Halley y sus Cometas, a pirate LP from Paul Anka, los Safiros, Nat King Cole or el Benny Moré. That plate of Mirtha and Raul was very scratched and I could not hear it well. Once, after many years, I proposed to Frómeta the idea of, in a concert, versioning Que tú me quieres voy a gritarand invite Mirtha Medina. We would all dress period; you know…
In the early nineties my uncle Armando, a communist since before the triumph of the revolution, decided to go live with his son in North America, and he left me his Underwood typewriter, 78 rpm records, some books, some tools and A package with four pounds of milk powder. When I left his house, the police stopped me and my uncle could hardly travel. In one of these old plates, there were two wonderful themes of La Sonora Matancera: Palito e´ tendedera, the theme that I will version someday, and El dedo gordo del pie. I made a version of the latter because I wanted to give it to my uncle, but he never heard it.
My mother and father sang great. He imitated Nat King Cole like nobody else. When he was among friends, he thought he was singing guaguancó. One day he told me that, in a peer dump in Tropicana, Elena Burke told him that he should devote himself to it. One of the albums that fascinated me the most of my father's little collection was one of the first to go out stereo, I don't remember his title, but I know it was a jazz band making versions of very famous songs from the American cinema of the fifties. [ ii][ ii]
My grandfather Manolo never let me play any of his guitars, my sister did. Listening to the radio always fascinated me; Mommy always had her on. I remember that red and white one that was stolen from us while one day daddy cutting cane in the 70s. The Sapphires hypnotized me, María Elena Walsh, Mirtha, and Raúl, Juan and Junior, Los Brincos, Los Platters, Los Angeles, Los Van Van de Marilú, La vida sigue igual. Who didn't watch that movie more than once? Of course, all these records we didn't have at home, the radio was the queen then.
As a teenager, I was marked by the Bee Gees. I even combed my hair like the cover of the Tragedy.. At night, when they turned off the light on the scholarship, I almost always began to bang, creating a loop in the wood of the bunk and sang a terrible English singe. Although my father says no, I remember that they had lent me just that vinyl and I kept putting it at home. One day my father was already up to the balls, he said: "Look, son, why don't you listen to The Beatles, because they finally imitate them like cats in heat". Now he says he never told me such a thing, how curious. Watching one day the movie Let it be was tremendous, even if it wasn't subtitled. When I consciously listened, or almost, all the Beatles discography I couldn't stop. Paul's themes, once separated and already in Wings, fascinate me even today; It's like seeing pictures of my young parents.
Although they do not believe me, I looked for Led Zeppelin to study them seriously, because in the pre I did not do many swing. It was after seeing Adrián Morales for the first time. The Volume III killed me. Some issues came out of me (A soldier sleeps under your bed ...).).
"The first time" I heard Silvio Rodríguez - seriously and at will - was passing the pre-university. A classmate lent me Días y Flores, and then Al final de este viaje. I was always a berracoberraco, as my good neighbor Alejandro González would say; I never went to a concert of those myths who say there was. Most of the combos seemed unbelievable. I do not remember then that nothing caught my attention. Bacalao con pan was a good topic. The cassettes of the unpublished songs of Silvio that Casuzo lent me filled my head with elusive and tremendous ideas. I began to idealize the life of this curious man; until one day I went alone for the first time to a concert of his in Casa de las Américas. It was impressive to see that people were left without entering, but they listened to everything through speakers they put on. I was fascinated by the "Silvio world" and the GES records, but my adoration never generated creativity; I only consumed and consumed.
When a 20-year-old Argentine rock cassette came into my life, with that loudness and so much prejudice, my head was filled with continuous drips, and the oscillations of my mind grew bigger. Years later I knew that what enchanted me so much was called Serú Girán, Sui Generis, Almendra, Spinetta, Charly García. "I love you, I hate you, give me more ..." When Fito played Karl Marx, he knocked us all out, but I always thought there was a cat locked up. I was curious and shocking to get ahead of Mick Jagger. Anyway, the Giros and Del 63 were also very consumed by me. Spinetta, Charly, Fito, they are great. Of course, I owe them everything, or almost. I hope someday they are proud of it, but hey, we must not exaggerate: I dream enough of myself, when are we going to be fair?
Over time there was more: Simon and Garfunkel, Juan Formell, Raúl Gómez, Billie Holiday, Juan Pardo, George Martin, the skinniest of the Silvios, Supertramp, U2 (especially in Villa de Paris), CSN & Y, Roger Waters, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Changuito, Kris Dane, Jeff Buckley, Soundgarden, David Lebón, Mark Linkou (Sparklehorse), Sigur Rös, and I wish it could sound like Radiohead, Björk or the best Beck. Magical Mystery Tour..
I have not read physical books for years, I am stuck all day on the PC monitor or TV. There aren't many things that motivate me today, I'm a little tired of everything, nothing surprises me. Two years ago Su gave me the Beatles Anthology, the great silver book, but since I downloaded the documentary from the network on video, I have not leafed through it much. Boris [Larramendi] almost ate it the time he visited us with his girls. But lately, there is something that has distanced me from my repeated Beatlemania listening: the wonderful discography of Sparklehorse. Listening to it, every day I understand more the Queso and the Ciro3C..
(To be continue…)
[i] Programa radial de Radio 3, España con emisión diaria de lunes a viernes. El programa analiza y da a conocer las novedades de la música popular contemporánea.
[ ii] En el momento sus padres estaban vivos.