Illustration: Mayo Bous.
Illustration: Mayo Bous.

Neither from here nor there: emigrant's playlist

11 minutos / Magazine AM:PM

18.12.2020 / Playlists

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 at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, at Magazine AM: PM we celebrate International Migrants Day as we know best: with music. There are 20 songs, but it could be hundreds. Because, again, what is the history of a country, if not that of its people and their comings and goings; and its here but at the same time so far.

Foto de Familia / Carlos Varela

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

Cubanos por el mundo / Roberto Carcassés e Interactivo

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 sings here to his homeland of river, tobacco and cane fields. To the neighborhoods from Alamar to Buenavista; to everything that is left behind when you go to try your luck for the world. 537 Cuba is that hymn of the Cuban emigrants that so many years later continues to be sung to everything that the chest gives.

Ni de aquí ni de allá / 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 ”. 

Cuando salí de La Habana / Kelvis Ochoa

All the flavor of Habana Abierta comes in this song 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 ”? The departure and the trip to Madrid is the leitmotif of this song that talks about life on both sides of the ocean and those moments when the "sparrow" attacks.

Alucinación/ Gema y Pável 

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… ”. 

Un carro, una casa, una buena mujer / Lucrecia

If you have not seen the documentary Balseros, co-directed by the Catalans Carles Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech —with collaboration on the script by David Trueba—, 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 filmmakers 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 music, a bittersweet contrast. The song takes as its central motive the aspirations that one of the film's most endearing characters confesses to emigrate.

Cruzando destinos / Pancho Céspedes

Another to cut your veins, of a composer in whose work the nostalgia of the emigrant for his country of origin (Divine Homeland; How far) has been very present. To the force of the text in which all the destinies that life has in store fit (“… there are people who want to fly / only walk distances… / You, me, the one who left or the one who waited for hope…”) add the capacity Interpretive of a Pancho Céspedes in which there is no room for lies and that's it. To cry, that he missed the tea.

Llamada perdida / 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 will be full / see you but without stress," Inti sings and reminds us how the meeting will never be the same.

Emigro / Leonardo García

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

Nostalgia de Palmeras / 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 / El Taiger

"For the first time in his life, he was no longer El Taiger, he was just one more," says José Manuel Carvajal Zaldivar in this song from Engagement, his 2017 album. At the rhythm of trap - courtesy of DJ Conds - the artist narrates that longing for 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 woman.

Nostalgia habanera / 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.

Mi tierra / Gloria Estefan

The homonymous CD that contains this song is one of the albums with the most distinctions 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, CD and song, they rely on that Cuba that is modeled after its excellent musicians, assured marketing of some interpreters, and the emotional burden inherent to emigration.

Nueva yo / Rxnde Akozta

Tenth track of Zangre, Zudor & Lágrimas (Pilla Records, 2008), where the Cuban rapper says that he finally understands what it is to be an emigrant (and that he no longer has time "to be a singer"). As in the Trunk of his memories, he talks about what represents him (“a shield, a flag, some Villagers”), what sustains him between the distance and the Finnish cold.

Pepe Mandarria / Oscar Sánchez

"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", with lyrics like those Oscar Sánchez conquers us. But this is a tough story, which has the 90s as its setting and a protagonist who —when the good times and abundance were waning— jumped into the sea one day, acting just like his ancestors. Because if there is something clear about Oscar with this song, third of the album Unknown Artist (Independiente, 2015), it is that the act of emigrating is not an invention of the contemporary world.

Bolero nostálgico para artistas emigrados / 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.

Éxodo / Pablo Milanés

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.

La esquina habanera / Willy Chirino feat.  Hansel y Raúl 

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. 

Gozando en Miami / Charanga Habanera feat. El Chacal

This song from the album Don't look at the cover (Planet Records, 2009) is undoubtedly one of the most popular by David Calzado and the Charanga Habanera, which —in conjunction with El Chacal— tells the story of someone who leaves but misses so many things from his country that is not really happy. Chauvinist? Yes, sure, but what can compete with Los Van Van?


Magazine AM:PM

Cuban music magazine, without distinctions of genres or geographies.

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    Suzie Q


    Me agradó que la mirada multicultural también abarcara la variedad de estilos. Les sigo desde Chile.

    Arsenio Rodríguez Quintana


    Criminal dejar fuera de esta lista Amigo Mío de Vanito cantada por él y Santiago Feliú. Y de Boris Larramendi Bárbaro… por solo citar dos. Dejar a Willy Chirino y su Pinar del Río… me silencio… receteen esta lista… No piner a Celia Cruz DE LA HABANA HASTA AQUI hay una corriente que me llama… en fin… Darsy te quiero pero dale caña a esta este …

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