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Playlists Illustration: Mayo Bous. Illustration: Mayo Bous.

Neither from here nor there: emigrant's playlist

The history of emigration is the history of humanity itself. It is also a courageous expression of change, overcoming adversity and searching for better places in the world. They emigrate from home, city, country, continent; but it is inevitably loaded with all the nostalgia, uncertainties, and challenges that such a decision produces. About this, various Cuban musicians have spoken in their songs, leaving a great trail of longings throughout the island discography. 

In a year like this, where migrants have been on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, in Magazine AM:PM We celebrate International Migrants Day as we know best: with music. There are 20 songs, but they could have been hundreds. Because, again, what is the history of a country, if not that of its people and its you will go and coming; and its here but yet so far away. 

family photo / Carlos Varela

Sixth track by Como los peces (Ariola/ BMG, 1994), the anthological album by Carlos Varela that earned him the Ondas de España award in the Latin Revelation Artist category in 1995. In the darkest of the night of the 90s, with a country bled to death by flight of his people as an imagined or imagined means of transportation, Varela released this song that speaks of that tearing that almost all Cuban families know. If there is a guitar present, it is a must song at any gathering of friends. 

Cubans around the world / Roberto Carcassés and Interactive

Roberto Carcassés, with his band, here pay homage to Cuban music that was made before and is now done anywhere in the world. The text does not deal specifically with emigration, but part of Interactivo's concept consists of not making any differentiation between Cubans from there or here and, as far as possible, to shorten distances with permanent collaborations. The premiere of this work live during the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana in 2003 was accompanied by a screen showing photos of artists (Habana Abierta, Paquito D 'Rivera, Albita, Lucrecia, Los Terry, among others) who make good Cuban music from different latitudes. 

537 Cuba / orishas

The emblematic Orishas of Cuban hip hop in 2002 sing here to his homeland of river, tobacco and cane fields. To the neighborhoods from Alamar to Buenavista; to everything that is left behind when going to try your luck in the world. 537 Cuba It is that anthem of the Cuban emigrants that so many years later is still being sung at the top of your lungs. 

neither here nor there / David Torrens

When this song appeared, David Torrens was still living in Mexico, where he planted the flag after signing for the record company EMI Music. In this song - which condenses the feelings of those who, outside of their homeland, have ever felt that they do not belong anywhere - the Cuban singer-songwriter learns to live in the "goes, comes and goes", and to be "captain of his wandering ship ”. 

When I left Havana / Kelvis Ochoa

All the flavor of Habana Abierta arrives in this theme from the album 24 horas (BMG/ Ariola, 1999) that became the soundtrack of a generation —because who hasn't hummed the now classic “it's hot in Havana, my sister” more than once? The departure and the trip to Madrid is the a leitmotiv of this song that talks about life on both sides of the ocean and those moments when the “sparrow” attacks.  

Hallucination/ Gemma and Pavel 

This is not the only song that Pável dedicated to the city where he was born and from which he emigrated while still very young. But it is probably the least suitable for novice migrants with the easy tear. Because almost everyone who walks away goes through that moment when he wonders if he has made the right decision and suffers when in doubt. “Many times I have wanted to return / despite attempts to forget / but there are things that go with me: / the streets of my neighborhood, the other sunlight. / I don't quite understand this place; / so much rush, so much fear and loneliness. / The current is taking us, / vampires who drink what is left of love… ”. 

A car, a house, a good woman / Lucretia

If you haven't seen the documentary rafters, co-directed by the Catalans Carles Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech —with the collaboration of David Trueba on the script—, run to ask your nearest supplier. This film was, initially, the coverage of the crisis of the rafters from Cuba for a television program in Barcelona, but its directors decided to accompany for several years the life stories of the seven Cuban emigrants who star in it and their respective families of both. sides of the strait. The result is a jewel to which the Cuban-Catalan Lucrecia contributes with her fantastic salsa-style music, a bittersweet contrast. The song takes as center motif the aspirations that one of the most endearing characters in the film confesses to emigrate. 

crossing destinations / Pancho Cespedes

Another to cut the veins, by a composer in whose work the nostalgia of the emigrant for his country of origin has been very present (divine homeland; That far). To the strength of the text in which all the destinations that life holds (“…there are people who want to fly / just walk distances… / You, me, the one who left or the one who waited for hope…”) add the capacity interpretation of a Pancho Céspedes in which there is no room for lies and that's it. To cry, that the tete was lost. 

Lost call / Inti Santana

This is a song that talks about those "powerful friendships that resist the saltpeter of the ocean", as its author once explained. All the nostalgia of those years of complicity returns in the distance between two friends. "It's only a week and you'll be to full / See you but without stress”, Inti sings and reminds us how the meeting will never be the same. 

emigrate / Leonardo Garcia

Leo gets in the car and starts to move. His eyes pop as he holds up a photo with some friends. Leo must not stop to think. Every time Leo sings emigrate (perhaps one of the most beautiful songs that La Trovuntivitis has given birth to), it is as if it were whispering a lullaby to all the people who have left somewhere. Try not to be betrayed by your pupils. 

Nostalgia for palm trees / Celia Cruz

The deprivation by distance will always be opposed by the constant and imaginary exercise of return. Without the idea of return, nostalgia is truncated. The climate and geography are sometimes the metaphorical pretext to give way to that imagination. It is not spent Creole or bucolic gratuity, Celia tells us here that until the day of her return she will always be a foreigner. Do you think so?

Emigrante / The Taiger

“For the first time in his life he was no longer El Taiger, he was one more”, says José Manuel Carvajal Zaldivar in this issue of engagement, his 2017 album. To the rhythm of trap —courtesy of DJ Conds— the artist narrates that longing of so many Cubans to arrive and succeed. Although his is a success story, we know that many people are not so lucky, and many have to live like him, with the thorn of having to get away from their old lady.

Havana Nostalgia / Fernando Albuerne

No Cuban has been able to sing like Fernando Albuerne again. The smoothness of his voice and the elegance of his speech marked a unique era with respect to popular song. Installed on the podium of the song and bolero of the 40s and 50s, only the list of the conductors who accompanied him would suffice for such recognition. Based in Venezuela first, and later in the United States, he is perhaps less remembered in Cuba than other interpreters with unequal characteristics, whether or not they decided to leave.

My land / Gloria Estefan

The self-titled CD containing this song is one of the most distinguished albums for a Latin singer, in addition to high sales figures. Launched in 1993 and with the participation of some heavyweights of Cuban music in emigration, such as Israel López (Cachao), My land, CDs and song, they rely on that Cuba that is modeled according to its excellent musicians, the assured marketing of some performers, and the inherent emotional burden of emigration.

New me / Rxnde Akozta

tenth track of Blood, Zudor & Tears (Pilla Records, 2008), where the Cuban rapper says that he finally understands what it means to be an emigrant (and that he no longer has time “to be a singer”). as in his trunk of memories, talks about what represents him (“a shield, a flag, some Villagers”), what sustains him between the distance and the Finnish cold. 

Pepe Mandarria / Oscar Sanchez

“Pepe Mandarria played in quarries / Limestone was in his hands / He was happy crushing the stone, / He wanted the origin of the world in his hands”, Oscar Sánchez conquers us with lyrics like these. But this is a hard story, which has the 90s as its setting and a protagonist who —when the good times and abundance were diminishing— threw himself into the sea one day, acting just like his ancestors. Because if something is clear to Oscar with this song, the third of the album Unknown Artist (Independiente, 2015), is that the act of emigrating is not an invention of the contemporary world.    

Nostalgic bolero for émigré artists / Frank Delgado

One of the most beautiful songs in Frank Delgado's arsenal. A review of the pantheon of our exiled creators, the famous and not so much, those who decided to try their luck beyond the borders. Either because they were looking for better economic conditions and / or a climate more favorable to their art, the truth is that they never completely leave.

Exodus / Pablo Milanes

At the beginning of the century we entered it with too much uncertainty and disappointment, as can be seen in this song by Pablo Milanés. "Where are the friends I had yesterday? / What happened to you? / What happened? / Where did they go? ”He wonders, after living like so many Cubans the continuous games of loved ones. Hopefully one day we can celebrate The Great Reunion, to abolish all goodbyes once and for all.

Havana's corner / Willy Chirino feat. Hansel and Raul 

Nostalgia for a past, logically, grows over time regardless of whether that past is marked by the trace of the most abysmal irreversibilities. The Havana of the 50s, musical, contradictory, shot at every turn, is an inevitable deposit of longings on the part of those who physically separated from it. But it is also fertile ground, no matter how distant it may be in time and space, to insist on an identity and develop a consistent musical work like that of Willy Chirino. 

Enjoying in Miami / Charanga Havana feat. the jackal

This song from the album Don't look at the cover (Planet Records, 2009) is undoubtedly one of the most popular of David Calzado y la Charanga Habanera, which —together with El Chacal— tells the story of someone who leaves but misses so many things about his country that he never becomes really happy. chauvinist? Yes, of course, but what can compete with Los Van Van?


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  1. Suzie Q says:

    I liked that the multicultural look also encompassed the variety of styles. I follow you from Chile.

  2. Arsenio Rodríguez Quintana says:

    Criminal to leave out of this list Amigo Mío de Vanito sung by him and Santiago Feliú. And Boris Larramendi Bárbaro… just to name two. Leave Willy Chirino and his Pinar del Río… I'm silent… write this list… Don't pin Celia Cruz FROM HAVANA UNTIL HERE there's a current that calls me… anyway… Darsy I love you but give this one a hard time…

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