I don't want to go so crazy
We agree that Pedro Aznar is a hairy beast of southern musical history, right? In that you don't have to do a very rigorous investigation, or open too many links to find the names that reach their greatness as a musician, composer, arranger, cat owner and 20 thousand other things? Well, between 1978 and 1982 Pedrito was part of a band in which there were two guys who made better songs than him.
For those who don't know the story, I'll save the trip to Wikipedia and tell them that the group was called Serú Girán, and the two guys were David Lebón and Charly García. There was a fourth member: Oscar Moro, which is no small thing, but history —unless you're John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Neil Peart or Lars Ulrich— has always been unfair to rock drummers. They called these people "The South American Beatles" or something like that. Surely they liked the nickname at first, and later they didn't care (except, perhaps, Charly, who lives with his feet on the ground only formally), but Beatles or not, they were, they are —and from this I only have doubts when I listen to Pescado Rabioso—the biggest band in Latin American rock.
This album (Columbia/Sony Music, 2000) is a direct double recorded in December 1981, the second of three concerts at the Coliseo theater in Buenos Aires. Its publication, many years later, is due to a real-wonderful story, one of those that nourishes documentaries, in which Moro appears acquiring a cassette at an old record stand that contained the entire recital, piratedly recorded, directly from the console, by the most beautiful anonymous thief of all time. The musicians have stated on several occasions that they do not explain how it was possible. But hey, separate story, here's the album, it sounds incredibly good (since Pedro Aznar starts playing the bass in the first bars of Cars, jets, planes, boats it seems to us that we have the reference to the side), and shows Serú Girán in her best known state of form.
One always hopes that the live performance will come as close to the studio performance as possible, or that, if it moves away, the decision to do so will be noticed, the gesture that says: I could sound exactly the same, but what's the point? (like when Radiohead performs 15 steps at the 2009 Grammy Awards ceremony, with the USC Trojan Marching Band). What should not happen is that the artist fails in his attempt to reproduce the studio performance, that he tries and does not succeed, either for telluric reasons (the audio of the concert is shit, the acoustics too, the sound engineer is distracted, those things) or for cosmic reasons (the musicians hired to record the album are tremendously superior to the ones there are now for the recital, the singer's voice doesn't come out the same when he sings and plays at the same time, in the warmth of the studio everything flows better and you don't smoke and drink so much, one thing is with the guitar and another with the violin, etc.). It tastes like a scam, in any case. With today's album the opposite is happening, that is to say: one expects the house shot to sound the same as the direct one —and that's impossible, because first the book is written and then the film is shot, it's the natural order, although there are exceptions, all failed.
After hearing the concert, the indoor recordings of the same songs sound like stiff mummies, vampires hibernating in their coffins, in need of a spell that fuses their icy blue blood, enlivens their tissues and returns their lips to their intense red. I'm not saying because right now Pepperine let's hear the word eggs where there was an annoying beep censor, nor for the piece that gives the album its title, which had just come out, it was called pain in my heart and it still had that impetuous, rough rock arrangement, very different from the one that appears a year later on the phonogram Going from bed to living room (Universal Music, 1982), by Charly García, when he had already begun to express himself in the language of the eighties. I say this thinking, for example, of the antepenultimate track, encounter with the devil, which maintains, like most songs, a high percentage of its original arrangement, but wow, it's not the same, because that track recorded in the studio for the album Bike (SG Discos, 1980) does not contain the feeling that the universe suddenly closed on our shower when Charly, supporting the song's hook with his voice, sings: “I-only-so-am-a-pe-da- zo-de-tier-rra”, nor the desire to shout the verse with him, stop, so that the shout covers all its meaning, but since that is absurd, well, we don't shout, we continue bathing and then we come here to shout as a review.
I listened to very little live music before this record. The direct ones were for me nothing more than a series of anecdotal folders in the discographies, ready to be deleted when I needed space on the 80 GB hard drive that I used as storage at that time —unless I didn't have anything else from the artist, or that unreleased songs be performed there, or covers that I liked them, or that it was a special concert for some reason (I think of the MTV Unplugged, for instance); but if they only contained songs that were already on the studio albums, I didn't pay much attention to them. Another rookie mistake that I luckily rectified, not without paying for it.
This is an essential album in my life. There is so much in there that I am, so much that I love, that I would be a very bad merchant of its physical edition. If I have to buy it, I would do the innocent classic that goes away happy believing that I got it very cheaply, and if I have to sell it, it will always seem to me that I am giving it away. It is that one cannot love so much and then put that love in the orthogonal chest of economic pragmatism. So, let's see how we do to condense, because there are 20 themes (21 if we count the one that is repeated), and almost all of them are hovering around the masterpiece fringe.
oh god what can i do it's a beautiful ballad that the group never recorded in the studio and, luckily, we kept on this album. It appears accredited to García and Lebón, but I, without much desire to investigate, am going to take the audacity to say that there is little of Charly there. I do not see it. Neither in the harmonic decisions, nor in the vocal melody, nor in the lyrics (“The day is coming, and I go back to work”, that is not Charly, although at this time it was still composed). Yes, they should have given at least 50 percent of the credit to whoever came up with the synthesizer arrangement that follows the verses —executed, like that moving mini-moog solo, by Pedro Aznar, and not by Charly, Contrary to what one might think (Pedrito was, perhaps, so excited that he entered very quickly, then he adjusts the race little by little, but his companions had surely raised their eyebrows, and I don't think he got rid of the pooch later in the dressing room). The keyboard accompaniment is of a quality, of such importance in the very anatomy of the theme, that it is no longer possible to speak here of arrangement and composition as independent, separable jurisdictions. The main/accessory pair disappears. We could interpret the work with guitar and voice only, since we are no longer going to take the synthesizer out of our heads, because it has become part of the work itself, it has ceased to be just an implement. This also happens with many songs in the concert (we have another clear example in the final part of seminar), and it is not, at all, something exclusive to this band, but it is something exclusive to the great arrangers, the ones who force the most experimental versionist to always continue observing some specific arrangement, under penalty of not doing so, the song itself be unconfigured (tell me if you have heard any Yesterday that does not contain that descending ornament that links the end of the chorus with the following verse).
Ballad and all oh god what can i do It ends in a very intense way, wisely coupling the musical discourse with the lyrical one. About minute 3:37, David Lebón's guitar gains a sound heavy that we won't hear again in the entire recital, not even in the upbeat songs of the second part. That is not the usual timbre in Serú, but it is spectacular, because it tells of the anxiety, the anxiety, the intermittent explosive disorder that the character suffers, just imagining what would happen if his love leaves.
David has a beautiful voice, sure of a gallant in managing his attractiveness. Too bad he likes so much to do that artifice of distorting the letter T, of turning it into a kind of Ch. I've seen Luis Fonsi do it too, and more people that I can't remember now. I don't know what you are looking for when you use that resource. It is not necessary, it sweetens too much a voice that is already sweet. But this is just an insignificant rubbish given the size of his work. If you are not familiar with rock made in Argentina, I tell you (and if you are, I remind you) that Lebón also formed for Pescado Rabioso, the only band that —as I said at the beginning in a very personal opinion— reaches the greatness of I will. And his role there, despite the steadfast presence of Spinetta, was not that of this other from Buena Fe. He also left indelible songs in the group's repertoire.
Although Serú was a more democratic group than Pescado, it also had an inescapable figure, a spirit that cast a shadow: the gentleman-boy Carlos Alberto García, a native of Caballito, Buenos Aires. For this reason, what we hear on the first CD as a band, on the second CD is more like a soloist with his musicians. And that is a logical consequence of the state of grace in which Charly was in those days. Of all the versions of himself out there, this is my favorite. Total Songs Like collective unconscious they are the ones that cause in people that nervous pull of laughing at every stupidity. We are afraid that he will get angry and stop doing them. They say Andrés Calamaro was referring to him in 1997 when he sings: "... he is a very bad boy / and he behaved very badly / but we forgive him / because we are the lowest of the high dirt". I hope that Andrés, if he really thought of Charly when he wrote that reproach, has understood later, coldly, that geniuses are glossed in different mental frequencies: one for person and another for genius. What did Calamaro want? Why don't we forgive him? That we were the ones in charge of collecting the account of his ego, of his inability to connect, in the dimension of the real world, with something not related to Charly García? That Aznar and Lebón had told him: “Look, Carlitos, that's it. You have two songs in a row for piano and voice and there are more people here”?
In the final chapter of the miniseries The Last Dance, produced by Netflix last year, who interviews Scottie Pippen wants to know what was going through his head in the last game of the 1997-1998 season, while Michael Jordan was driving the ball towards the offensive half of the court, after having stolen it from Karl Malone and before executing one of the most legendary baskets in basketball history. "Move of the middle. Get out of the way,” Scottie replies, thinking, because there are nights when unrepeatable people shouldn't be bothered. On December 26, 1981, Charly García was in one of those nights, as if he had fully internalized himself, had seen his seat in the cultural imaginary of an era, and decided to sit there, as if it had served the man, for a gala night, the genius tuxedo, which always looks great.
Alice in Wonderland song, the fourth track of the first part, is a generational anthem, along scratch the stones or The dinosaurs. Songs that are enough to unconditionally love an author. And the public responds as such; just listen to an edge of the riff from the beginning and already goes crazy. I share two moments of the theme that drive me crazy. One is from the poetic plane. It happens when, to say that Alice's country is no longer a place of puerile, naive and credulous prancing, that the spring dream has mutated into horror, that the game is over and there is no room, well, for representations, Charly uses this resource: "... and here, you know, / the tongue twister locks tongues, / the murderer murders you". These repetition figures break me when they are this effective. The other moment is musical: the riff at minute 2:58, which works as an escape valve through which the intensity accumulated during the entire song comes out under pressure (which is a crescendo perennial), because if not, our heads could explode. East riff has enormous strength, but the strength does not come entirely from its own attributes, but ends up being created by the listener himself, who has delayed the moment of climax so much that no sound could cover the expectation, hence, when that part arrives, we feel outburst and bewilderment at the same time, a very rare, unique sensation.
In Cinema Verite all the lights go out, except for the cannon, which focuses on Charly and his Yamaha piano, so that the audience can see him demonstrate why he is one of the greatest spirits of the 20th century. An impeccable interpretation, from the technical point of view, but above all because of the way in which García's gestures connect with what he is saying. His voice sounds ironic: "Now he stimulates his membranes by the hotline”, dramatic: “I was born to look / what few want to see”, tender: “The moon lowers the curtains”. You can tell he was completely into his movie. Cinema Verite it is a song, but it is also a symphony, a novel and a film. always reminds me of death in venice, from Mann, I don't know why. (Lies. Yes I know, but I'm not going to get into that now). A true classic, in short; that is to say, a work that is born old, and time modernizes it.
With this song he closes the first section of the concert —although unfortunately, surely for reasons of space, the production of the album has to make the cut a little earlier, leaving Cinema Verite as the third track on the second CD. The group goes to rest for a while, and returns with their batteries recharged to face the most rocky section of the recital, a section that opens and closes with the same theme: Do not cry for me Argentina.
This number has a intro memorable. Listen to the character, the forcefulness of the drum march, how full the bass sounds, the suspense of the guitar, the tightness of the piano. We go from zero to one hundred in 27 seconds. Whoever remains motionless while turning that part, is dead. The first performance has an audio glitch and you can't hear it when Charly starts singing the verse. A pity, because that is the moment that must break the tension generated by the opening; and it does, but not as it should have been. This accident is resolved in Bis, at the end of the concert and the album, but this time the song is played more disorganized, but also more energetic, like the last rush of the runners at the finish line, when they no longer care to save the style and leave it all. In any case, in both executions we hear perfectly: "Someone wants to leave, / someone wants to return, / someone who is trapped / in the middle of a memory", and that, friends, is enough.
Let's go back to Netflix, and now let's throw it, as it should be. The third chapter of Break Everything: The Story ofhe rock in latin america, start with a epic fail by Gustavo Santaolalla interpreting a line by Serú Girán, which says: “While I look at the new waves / I am already part of the sea”. Santaolalla sees here a relationship of parallel opposites where —in the Argentine cultural context of 1981— the new waves means new wave/punk/scene under, and the sea it means corporate rock/establishment. If we follow this reading, Charly would appear to be observing, lounging in the Olympus of consecration, the new musical movements that were emerging in his country, and —even worse— denying them.
As is known, interpreting is a creative moment, and as such implies the projection, the outpouring of personal essences. Therefore, the fact that Gustavito de la first, by default, understands the sea as a symbolic body that expresses rigidity and conservatism, speaks of the grayish tone of his nerve endings, of a spiritual blindness that I, truthfully, did not expect.
There are many things that Santaolalla does not see. These are some. First, that night of Serú's recital at the Teatro Coliseo (December 26, 1981, remember), the support group that enlivens the intermission is Las Bay Biscuits, a more theatrical than musical vibe; so under was, that the show they put on was called Inaugural act of the first Argentine space plant. Second, when introducing the girls, Charly tells of a time that he played a disco song at another concert, the respectable man pretends to boo (censuring the fact of playing a disco song), and he, with undisguised irony, exclaims : “Oops, oops, oops! How horrible!”, and then ask them to listen to what happens with Las Bay Biscuits “because it's quite interesting”. And third, in As I watch the new waves (This is the title of the song that Santaolalla cites), Charly begins by narrating the very process of cultural sedimentation of what under, taking Elvis Presley as an example; it would be very naive to believe that later, when he refers to the new wavesdo it with him animus necandi and the aura of superiority that the documentary wants us to see.
The easiest thing is to interpret “Yo ya soy parte del mar” as an arrogant gesture, and one forgives those who don't know what Charly García means for the song in Spanish, but not Santaolalla. My dear Gustavo, this song is not about a self-righteous man who looks down on you and questions your way of understanding music. Only out of pride, because there is a lot of doubt in the reaffirmation, Charly would never have said something like that. What Charly tells here is nothing less than his arrival at the point of being human that allows historical interpretation. The sea, Gustavito, that is it: history, culture, time. Lezama sees the same image when he presents the most spectacular moment of Cuban poetry when he says: “Thus the mirror found out in silence, / thus Narciso at high tide fled without wings. Like Narciso, Charly ascends to the temple of himself, that spiritual moment that many people call find god, hence the request "(...) to be on the beach when they are gone / those who cover all the sand with cellophane". Surely Santaolalla was one of those.