Raul Cyrus (II)
A year ago, Raúl Ciro decided—at his own risk—to leave for eternity, in a desperate search for everything he dreamed of having lost. Perhaps he forgot that "choosing never ensures success", as he himself had written and sung before. I cannot —nor do I want to— calculate exactly how much Cuban culture lost (the same culture that, at an institutional level, did so little swing in life), but I do know what his death meant to a few friends and supporters. I think that a good (another) way to keep him in mind is by summoning his memories. Following the rescue started in a previous installment, here he talks about his early dalliances with the guitar, his formative context, and the stage in the peña de 13 y 8, from its genesis to the end. These are his words. That's how he was, without cheap ideas or half measures, without sweetening or sweetening. Even in his dalliances he always ended up going straight to the lung. (Humberto Manduley)
IF I LOOK BACK ...
Since 1983 I had a friend, really a brother, Alejandro Werthein, who was the son of some Argentine doctors based in Cuba since the very triumph of the Revolution. In our teenage escapades, one day I found a cassette titled 20 years of Argentine rock, something strange then there, among so many records by Julio Iglesias, Gardel and Vikki Carr. As it was written, I did not understand that among others it said “Serú Girán”, “Moris”, “Spinetta”, “Porchetto” and more. You can't imagine how much I learned by listening to, almost devouring, that cassette.
Between 1986 and 1987 I had been robbed of the Russian guitar in the military unit when I passed the Compulsory Military Service. I played the double bass and bass in a group that participated in a festival and some other horrific activity of the unit. We played pieces by Santana, Silvio and Pablo, even the typical "We learned to love you ..." by Carlos Puebla and his Traditionals. At the end of the Service, I could not stand the studies of German at the Faculty of Languages, and I went to the banks of the Almendares River to watch the current, the trees, the squirrels, the birds, and to mourn the love (res) of turn.
My first songs were infamous; there was one of three chords and it said something like this: "It's been a month since the century of your departure and even in my room your smell is life". I sang then in my recurrent falsetto and nobody could stand me. Sang girl paper eyes, God and the devil in the workshop or some song by Santiago Feliú. I know that no one believes me, but I "learned" to sing with Raphael, with Mirtha and Raúl, and a bit of Julio Iglesias. With many like that, until the wonderful Argentines appeared, Spinetta, Serú, Porchetto, and then Fito; there I found many more motivations, yes, but also Silvio, something from Pablo, and a lot from Santiaguito.
The panorama of the Cuban song was not a subject that worried me then. I was just trying to live what "the green one" had prevented me from: I listened to a lot of music thanks to my parents stripping off their few jewels and buying a Sony double cassette. After a while I understood that the important thing was to have fun and compose what motivated you; the other stopped obsessing me.
At that time, I didn't know who I was, I didn't recognize myself, I was very affected by everything. I escaped believing Silvio Rodríguez, with the face of Paul McCartney. Anyway, I never went through El Patio de María, nor did I see the Dizzying Souls play live. When one day I heard about the House of the Young Creator, I thought it was the least suitable place to show my things: "everyone would steal me". But one day something happened that changed my life. I accompanied some friends from then to a concert at the Casa de Cultura de Plaza. It would be the year 1985, almost 86, and we spent the last year of the "green" to try to enter the University. That night I saw great things, and what I remember with more affection was seeing some boys dressed in a very comfortable and appropriate way according to my most idolized styles; they wore their hair where they wanted and did wonderful and solo themes together. Later I learned that they were Los Pelos. But among that group, I had seemed to see Santiago Feliú, the former partner of Donato Poveda.
Once, some friends of mine from the Military Service (Jorge Molina and Basilio García) managed to enter the ISA in the acting faculty after passing some very difficult tests, according to what they said. One day they came to my house, and they brought me ten sets of German steel strings. When I put one of them on my guitar back then, things changed a lot. For the first time I felt what it was like to perfectly tune an instrument, even if some of them looked a bit rusty. They had been thrown away in an ISA warehouse, or they were going to be thrown away because no one used them. Then they asked me to share the treasure with another acquaintance of theirs, a student in a higher class, maybe a year. They told me “Carlos needs strings”. Well, I gave them one game, no more, I think, or maybe two, I don't know. Over time, at a movie session at the Cinematheque, these friends introduced me to Carlos. Of course he knew who Carlos was, yes, Carlos Varela, the one who sang The lever, India, along with those monsters: Santiago, Gerardo Alfonso and Frank Delgado. Donato Poveda at that time, I think it was 85, 86 or 87, no more, he was involved in some impressive things, I seem to remember.
At the Casa de Cultura in Plaza I saw them sing together, I didn't know them, I had only heard and seen Donato and Santiago on television, who were great. But these hairs, together with Gunilla —even when Tosca or Xiomara Laugart collaborated—Those nights marked me. My motivation branched out in such a way that I began to look more disciplined for these presentations. That day you can't imagine what expectations I placed in that meeting, which was repeated several times due to my obsession and also because I was waiting for my friends at ISA. Then one day, I don't know exactly why, Carlos and I met under one of the tremendous trees, and we talked a lot. For me it was very important because it kind of opened up a world that was only accessible to me through records, cassettes and legends. At that time I was fixing a really bad twelve-string guitar for a friend, and since I had it there and it sounded pretty good, we shared songs. That moment was important to me. I really had some songs, but I had never entered this area beyond having played in the courtyard of the Faculty of Psychology once and another time in its theater. When Carlos heard elephants He told me “but Raúl, you have to play more”. He told me that once talking to Donato they said to each other “surely we're not the only ones, there will be others out there making tremendous songs”. In those days he was very impressed and aware of his new relationship with Amaury Pérez and he kept commenting on how well things sounded on CD.
COOPER WITH THE CUBAN ARTIST
After meeting Carlos Varela, it occurred to me one day, to follow his advice to play in the rock of Adrián Morales and José Raúl García in the Museum of Decorative Arts, and thus meet more people. Again, playing in the Faculty of Psychology, chasing Natalia or rather her ghost, someone invited me to go through the House of the Young Creator. I went and played what I could at that time with my harmonica and the hanger on which I hung. In the end, I was approached by a boy, Mario Inchusstegui, who was sitting at a table with another who had his legs crossed and a face and attitude of knowing everything or almost; His name was Alejandro Gutierrez. The first insisted that I go through the downloads of the Finca de Los Monos. I had no idea what that was or where it was, but I researched and when the day came I walked around, although I was not encouraged to pass. I was a little embarrassed to get there, I had no idea what I was going to find. Luckily, after a while, Incheetegui appeared and with his usual goodness invited me to a soda and accompanied me to pass. Once inside, everything was simpler. Of course, it was a download between friends and acquaintances; We weren't many, but the core of what was later reiterated. Alejandro Frómeta was there, I think Elenita del Valle; Arsenio Rodríguez, Pablo Herrera, Alejandro Gutiérrez, Carlos Santos and other names or nicknames that I don't remember, but I do remember that everyone looked at me like saying "what is this?"
I don't know how it went, but another day I met Carlos "the butterfly", a friend of Werthein, and he told me a lot about a friend of his called Vanito who had a rock in Vedado, and why I didn't go there. The following Saturday those of the Finca de Los Monos agreed to "disembark" there altogether. I don't know why we had the impression that we were going to stop them. Found the place, between streets 13 and 8, so we did, and little by little, I do not know for what strange reason, we appropriate that place. I do not retain anything other than what I thought when I saw and heard Vanito play: "Tonight she will go out with me, oh my love, what is happening to us", "if there were no brothers-in-law if grandfather died." That theme, with a sixth of the guitar tuned in re, left me crazy. I remember very well that I said to myself: "This is a song, something is happening here."
That visit became a custom and since then I never stopped going and dreaming about whims and projects. It was like finding brothers. At the beginning we fell into songs and people endured a lot. We had a grand piano, sometimes Frómeta used it and we did things together; We had fun, we downloaded. Every Saturday was a marathon, almost always the themes of José Luis Estrada closed, people had fun. It was like a church. "Chucusú I know, ah ...", "Let's make love like wild cats ... Felina." We sang, almost always from where we were, everyone's songs.
Something that I think united us very much was the experience of “assaulting” the Lenin vocational school together with Boris, Vanito, Incháustegui, Alejandro Gutiérrez, Carlos Santos and Enrisco. They did not let us enter the school, but we slipped in secretly, and unloaded for the students who wanted to circumvent the "silence". That night I improvised a simple harmony and added text to it: “be careful they don't see you…”. Alejandro Frómeta joined and it was tremendous to see the reaction of the few who were there. Even Enrisco lost his prescription glasses. We left very happy. We even managed to get another day, due to the insistence of some of the students, to come in and play. We ended up singing a song by Raúl Porchetto, some peace, mixed with Cooperate with the Cuban artist and some other. We all went out singing along the corridor to the same entrance post and we left.
We also apply it one day to Polito. We appeared with badges and everything as if we were fans. Each one of us had on his back a paper caught with pins that had the marker of 13 and 8. We distributed, among those present, the definition of polarized glass and I climbed on and put a mirror in front of him while he was singing. Our hand went away, we were very aggressive at times.
Once, passing through the rock of the Bearded Cayman, or one of those discussions at the time, we agreed to customize the presentations, once that evening was over. I think the first concert was by José Luis Estrada or, as expected, mine. Afterward, things went another way. Everyone took seriously to find a way to get people from getting bored with our typical marathons. There were also infamous ones. It was impressive to see how each time more people went there. We would do what we could think of, which was increasingly twisted and weird, people kept getting in at 13 and 8. We would have to find out what attracted them.
One day in 1989 we could never download there again. Simply, Vanito (it was always he who mediated between the direction of the museum and us, was a very smart and responsible guy) could not negotiate our stay anymore and we had to make a farewell in the garden. I remember making recordings then and on other occasions, but those tapes were lost, I don't know what happened to them. Surely I stubbornly and deleted them, I don't know. I almost always walked with a small Sony mono recorder, with tiny tapes. If so, I am very sorry to have done it. I would like to hear those wonderful meetings again.
PROPOSED SONG VS PROTEST SONG
You should have seen Vanito's reaction one day we met at Boris' house to try to shape what was called Proposed Song from the beginning. He then said: "This gives me a lot of light ..."
Initially, the idea of Proposed Song was a kind of trap that would end with the destruction of my guitar in the House of the Americas. The purpose was to draw attention to the pure style of the most radical plastic of that time and, incidentally, make some things clear. But our concert project was never accepted, despite being presented in a songbook illustrated by hand by us and plastic friends, as well as a cassette with the songs that we would use if it were accepted.
As that did not work, we ended up filling the city with posters, which Pepe del Valle initially made, but as we had differences, he left the play. I ended up making more than forty copies of the appropriation of the mythical poster of Rostgaard and some stamps that would be given at the end of the concert at Almendares Park. We used two Chinese lanterns, we didn't have amplification and we ended up cleaning the amphitheater until our figure was immolated represented that night. We repeatedly rehearsed Inchulategui, Boris, Vanito, Frómeta and I, who wore baseball shirts made for the occasion, one red and one black, but both said in different typefaces Surplus, one had the number 8 and the other on 13. We ended up dating from there quite frustrated and proud, although the city did not hear of our desperate cry: "We shall overcome."