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Playlists Illustration: Eli Luzardo

The conquerors of fire (or a playlist of songs we used to sing badly)

My mother used to sing me to sleep. And she also sang to be happy. She would sing while cleaning, sometimes. There was nothing that made her happier than cleaning, because if the house was clean then everything would be fine. My house was made of wood and the walls were full of holes. If someone had wanted to masturbate, anyone would have seen it. The street was dirt and so much dust got in, that even after cleaning the floor was still dull.

Then my mom would pass the glitter, and she would sing. Towards the end, she didn't sing. But at the beginning she did. And she danced too. She sang and danced to pop music. Roberto Carlos, Benny Moré, Los Van Van, Eros Ramazotti, NG La Banda, The Beatles, Silvio and Pablo, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. His favorite was Kenny Rogers. With Kenny Rogers he danced, moving his feet like this. He would move his feet saying: dowendujowe wendujowó wendujoweeeee. And you could see all his teeth, without cavities and even, unlike my dad.

The problem was not that he sang, but that he sang other lyrics. I learned by heart a refrain of Benny, while my grandfather told me that Benny was a drunk lying on the corner of B Street, in front of the house of Cira Socarrás, where they sold liquefied gas before the triumph. I remember that story and the image I formed in my head: a tall man with his shirt open, tugging, his mouth turned upside down, his eyes closed and his body twisted over a tank of liquefied gas, and my grandfather helping him to stand up.

My mom told my grandfather that it didn't matter and kept singing his refrain, sweeping. My mom would cheerfully sing: if there's a fire in the city that I like the most, and she would repeat that unstoppably, dancing just like with Kenny Rogers: if there's a fire in the city that I like the most! And my grandfather would say: that man is an alcoholic. And my mom would sing: if there's a fire in the city that I like the most! And my dad would say: that song is not like that. And my mom would say: shut up Juanci. My dad's name is not Juanci but she calls him Juanci. (Legna Rodríguez Iglesias).

My impulses about you / Comp. Alec Syntek, Int. David Torrens

I remember perfectly the moment when I first heard this song in the voice of David Torrens. It was at a time when I had finally decided to stop resisting his music -I do not have reasons I found it super curious how many songs David had with a woman's name in them: Ibis, Pamela, Juana, Mayte, and... Mariana. Don't you know that last one? It's there when the beautiful chorus of My impulses about you it says: "... and to walk away means suicide / I love you, Mariaaanaaaa". And that's how I was singing it for a long time, gentlemen, what a shame. Luckily they released The broken gods at the Chaplin and Ernesto Daranas included it as part of the soundtrack, only for me to wonder what a love song to a certain Mariana was doing in a movie where the protagonist's name was Sandra. (Diana Ferreiro).

Water for Yemayá / Elito Revé and his Charangón

Possibly one of the most sung and danced songs of Elito y su gente. To row, to row to sing to La Virgen de Regla. Two years ago, precisely on September 7, when the song becomes a prayer and everyone sings "agua... bendita" over and over again, I started to review the lyrics to learn the words of omi tuto, ana tuto, ile tuto, Tuto Laroye... and I discovered that I had been deceived for years. It turns out that the choir water was "fresh", beyond the many poorly sung "blessings" of the people. (Adriana Fonte Preciado).

Your eyes / Juan and Junior

As a child and pre-teen, a time when, without paying much attention to the lyrics, I listened to music and sang it at the top of my voice to imitate my older cousins, I would bawl my eyes out every day at 8:00 p.m., when the program began. Nightshrieking in chorus with Juan and Junior: "Casita gris... como es el mar de inviernoooo...". I had no idea that the song was about a woman's eyes and not about a house painted gray. (Darsi Fernandez).

Crystal dream / Lazarito Valdés and Bamboleo

There are songs that we know by heart even though we have never had them in our lives. playlistWe may not even like them, but they are there. Recently I was sharing with some friends and talking about it, some of those "cheos" refrains started to come out. We made the night when someone inspired started singing "what a pity, I had a dream and it was metal...", the rest was one joke after another around that "change of materials", from discussing the new style of the dream (a channel), to singing the fragment as if it were a Zeus vocalist, to watching the video again, to remembering other times. When it serves to make us laugh among dear people, we are grateful to have in our minds those themes of the collective memory and, of course, that these simple mistakes occur, which then become the subject of happy anecdotes. (Anabel L. Rabell).

Hold the Line / Toto 

It was the early 2000s and my father boasted of a legendary cassette: "Hits of the 70s and 80s". There was everything there, like in an apothecary. Some weekends I would get in his car and he would take me to see my grandparents; it was the countryside, it was the road and it was that player that brought back sounds that my father enjoyed tremendously; and I with him. In that arbitrary selection there was a song that we particularly liked, a single that just by listening to the first pulses on the piano made us shout outrageously what we thought the chorus was saying. Toto was the band responsible for the delusions of father and daughter; I remember the laughter at the name the American musicians had chosen for that lineup. "Toto," we would say, and laugh our heads off. My father was not fluent in English, he would hum anything; I was just starting high school, my command of that language was only what I could pick up from the movies and rock music I consumed. It was pretty shaky English, let's face it. So no one could blame us for misinterpreting the lyrics; much less for not stopping to think about the correspondence of the title of that song with what Bobby Kimball repeated over and over again. Let's also think that in the Cuba of the 2000s, in the most western and forgotten province of the Island, there was no Internet to consult absolutely nothing. So for us Hold the Line was nothing more than a song that keyboardist David Paich had written for a woman with the idea that love, rarely a bed of roses, does not always come or appear when we expect it. The woman, the recipient of that song, and whom I was sovereignly envious of, was Odeline. A woman built by me and my father, a fictitious muse whose real name only existed in our heads when we sang at the top of our lungs: "Odeline".Odeline, love isn't always on time, oh oh oh oh". Who was Odeline to have a song like that made for me, thought the teenage Lorena. Years later, a friend of mine brought me out of my ignorance. Where you hear Odeline, it says nothing but the title of the song, she told me mercilessly. "Hold the line." Uaaaaaaaaaffffff. What a way to destroy that revelation for me, what a way to spoil the story. Today, I am still incapable of singing Hold the Line correctly; I refuse. For my father, now in Colorado and learning English in his 60s, Odeline fortunately still exists. Don't pass this one on to him playlistplease (Lorena Sanchez).

El bufón y el trágico / David Torrens

As for many people, David Torrens' songs were part of my adolescent initiation ritual in a discotheque of my own, beyond the fashionable themes that came out in the media. At a time when one lived as never before through art, I would hum his songs to accompany my (dis)loves, in an emotional binge as masochistic as it was cathartic. His album my little faith (Caribe Productions, 1998) was a merry-go-round where I could lose myself for hours amidst the glitz and glamour of Although always without moneythe saucy request for Your love's scrape and the urgent demand for Perverse. Among a lot of extraordinary pieces, The buffoon and the little drink was the crown jewel, the soundtrack to my platonic romances. Invariably, she never knew all that was hidden in me, nor my double condition of backwater and alcohol. In one of the first Torrens concerts I attended (it wasn't even the first), when I sang half broken that "she didn't see me cry/ she didn't know that I was two/ the jester of her peace and the little drink", the person next to me had a fit of laughter that I didn't know how to interpret until she corrected me, on the verge of tears, that no, it was "the jester of her peace and the tragic one". David's loss, my version not only has the tragicomic air of the original idea, but it is also a more perfect rhyme. (Rafa G. Escalona).

The Difference / Wampi & Orlenis 22k & Ernesto Losa 

I have been trying to remember for days. Testing my memory is a complex exercise at this point. I play music to relax my forgetful body and see if maybe that memory of a badly sung song will come back. Wampi, Orlenis 22k and Ernesto Losa appear on my playlist. The Difference is a song that I have sung and enjoyed so many times that I didn't even realize that I hadn't understood the phrase with which it opens: "From the times when I wanted to forget you", it said, according to me. "But your friend showed you my state," it goes on, and no, it doesn't make sense. But, of course, so many people say that delivery songs don't make sense, that one ends up believing it so. "I blocked you because I wanted to forget you," she actually says. And I don't know why but, even knowing what it says, my brain keeps mishearing it. I guess it will have to get used to it. (Lien Real).

Move it, move it / The General

I could tell you two or three similar stories, but my friends' favorite one is with Move it, move itby El General. I was seven or eight years old when the father of reggaeton released that song. Every Sunday my neighbors would play a boom box at full volume with the loudest I hit I was waiting for El General to sing with him: "Jugo'e melón, jugo'e melón/ Qué sabroso!/ Jugo'e melón, jugo'e melón,/ cómo lo hace?/ Ven a bailar/ Uhmmmmmm/ Ven a gozar/ Uhmmm...". The first time my mother heard me she couldn't stop laughing..., but she never corrected me. (Anniet Forte).

Whoever it was / Silvio Rodriguez

The first time I sang in public, a huge cock went out of my head. I was at the Lenin School and meeting David Faya, capable of shooting the whole Nueva Trova with his guitar, absorbed me into a new world. We were not bad, I think we even became a good copy of many interpretations. But there is nothing like a good rooster to destroy the hieratism of the movie we were making. "Corazón en fuuuga...", and that was the end of it. An escape in every sense of the word. Between laughter and sorrow I took it as I could. The truth is that I have never sung that song again, not even to myself. Nor have I ever taken it as seriously as I did back then. (Rafael Valdivia).

Who Let The Dogs Out? / Baha Men 

How old were you when you realized there was no caldosa? We all have -or know someone who at some point has- sung the famous chorus of Who Let the Dogs Out? like "Una caldosa, Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!". This song, made popular by the Baha Men is a cover by Anslem Douglas that narrates the occurrences of a party where everyone is dancing and having fun until the "dogs" start barking. Who are the dogs? Well, men who in the middle of the fun decide to start harassing, besieging or "barking" at the girls who are just trying to have a good time. In this way, behind an amusing song and with a video clip to match, they denounce or point out a practice that today, more than twenty years after the release of that version, is still sadly common and the question still remains: Who let the dogs loose? And to that I add: Who is going to pick them up? (Danko Rosete).

 

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