Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

domingo, abril 09, 2006

Ibrahim Ferrer Vive en mi Corazon

It's just beginning to be spring in the Hudson Valley. The dog, uncoaxed, went for a swim in the pond. And I awoke this morning with a song stuck in my head, playing over and over, round and round. The song is a sentimental, Cuban one, Dos Gardenias:

Dos gardenias para ti
con ellas quiero decir
te quiero, te adoro, mi vida.
Ponles toda tu atencion
porque son tu corazon y el mio.

Dos gardenias para ti
que tendran todo el calor de un beso
de esos que te di
y que jamas encontraras
en el calor de otro querer.

A tu lado viviran y te hablaran
como cuando estas conmigo
y hasta creeras
que te diran te quiero.

Pero si un atardecer
las gardenias de mi amor se mueren
es porque han adivinado
que tu amor se ha marchitado
porque existe otro querer.

Dos gardenias...para ti.

Simple, old and beautiful. And it reminds me that Ibrahim Ferrer, who recorded this old tune has been gone for less than a year. I miss him.

You can see him, "rediscovered" by Ry Cooder, in Wim Wender's remarkable 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club, and you can hear him on the Buena Vista Social Club cd album, and on the cd bearing his name. An incredible performer. These are must see, must hear performances.

The obituary from the Boston Globe only hints at the challenges of his life and the 20 years he didn't sing. To explain the 20 years requires a long dissertation on life in Cuba in the 70's and 80's, a discussion I happily leave to others or for another time. His obit:

Ibrahim Ferrer, 78; performed with Buena Vista Social Club
By Anita Snow, Associated Press August 7, 2005
HAVANA -- Ibrahim Ferrer, a leading voice with the hugely popular Buena Vista Social Club of vintage Cuban performers, died yesterday, his representative in Cuba said. He was 78.

The Montuno production company did not give a cause of death, but Mr. Ferrer's colleagues said he suffered from emphysema and was feeling ill earlier in the week.
Known for his trademark cap and graying mustache, Mr. Ferrer was a wiry, animated figure who clearly enjoyed performing Cuba's traditional ''son" music of the 1940s and 1950s for new generations of fans.

Among a group of older Cuban performers recruited by US musician Ry Cooder, Mr. Ferrer performed on the ''Buena Vista Social Club album" that won a Grammy in 1999, and was among those appearing in the film of the same name.

''I felt like he was my brother," said fellow Buena Vista performer, the guitarist Manuel Galban. ''He was a great musician and a great companion."

Also in 1999, Mr. Ferrer was featured in one of a string of albums that followed, ''Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer," and won a Latin Grammy for best new artist in 2000.
Two other well-known members of the original Buena Vista group, singer Compay Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez, died in 2003.

Originally from Cuba's eastern city of Santiago, Mr. Ferrer was born on Feb. 20, 1927, during a dance at a social club after his mother unexpectedly went into labor.

Mr. Ferrer was still a boy when he began singing professionally with Santiago groups in 1941. By the late 1950s, he was a well-known singer performing regularly with the late, great bandleader Pacho Alonso.

He also made guest appearances with other legendary names, including Benny More and Orquesta de Chepin.

Alonso's group moved to Havana in 1959, and Mr. Ferrer came along, remaining with the group for more than two decades. By the early 1980s, Mr. Ferrer had left the musical scene, but came out of retirement to perform with the Buena Vista group.

The details of his 20 year hiatus, and his shining shoes for a living during it, is noted in the movie. His consumate artistry and his talent remain. And the song goes on and on in my head.

Vive siempre en mi Corazon.