Natalia Lafourcade

This is Blog 14 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Natalia Lafourcade

Spanish is my third language but it is definitely the most beautiful of the three (and it makes me wish it was my first).

Natalia Lafourcade writes and interprets songs that make me fall in love with the language all over again. The songs are poetic and clever, reintroducing traditional rhythms and instruments into modern day music.

In 2017 she released one of my favorite albums ever; “MUSAS”.

Hearing the songs and seeing the accompanying videos, makes me feel like I was there. Musas is more than just an album. Musas is a cultural project, a movement, a statement.

Someone said it quite well on social media: “We had a tremendous outstanding debt to traditional Latin American music that was expunged when the album Musas was made. ¡Gracias Natalia!”

On the album Natalia reinterprets well-known folkloric songs and introduces new ones, that will undoubtedly become classics as well. The tiny desk concert she did in 2017 gives us a small taste:

Anybody who’s learning Spanish should listen to her music as a mandatory language lesson. Her pronunciation is precise and clear. Also, the fact that her songs are relatively slow make it all easier to follow (and let’s face it, that can be a challenge with spoken Spanish).

The video below is a bonus video for Hispanohablantes that want to immerse themselves in Natalia’s folkloric universe for a bit longer or for Spanish students that are ready for a challenge (there are no subtitles).

She’s a delight, isn’t she? I’m such a huge fan!

Valentina, valentina

 

What shall we do with all these debates about the sky above
Help me, Valentina, as you have flown so far.
Tell me once and for all that there is no such mansion up there;
Tomorrow it will be built by mankind and its reason,
Oh my!

Obra-colectiva-Chants-pour-la-revolution-doctobre-1977.jpgThese lines are from a song. A revolutionary song. A song from a LP my parents loved (both of them 😮 )! The LP was called Canto A La Revolución De Octubre and contained songs of protest and marching songs, composed and sung by Chilean artist such as Victor Jara, Inti-Illimani and Isabel Parra.

There are several songs on this album that I listened to religiously as a kid, even though I clearly didn’t really understand them. I saw how my parents reacted to these songs and they often explained to me what they were about and what the historical context was.

Heaven.jpgThe song Ayúdame Valentina is an emotional plea to someone who has flown far away, to bring us some of her wisdom from the heavens above. I knew that critical thinkers, writers and singers did not befall pleasant fates under Pinochet, so I assumed Valentina must have been one of the victims of this cruel regime.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that I decided to look up if I could find out who Valentina was, and it turned the whole song upside down for me! Not only was Valentina still very much alive when the song was written, she has outlived most of the singers on the album and is with us until this very day!

Who is this wise woman that Isabel Parra calls upon, then?

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. 

I don’t know about you, but I had never heard about this woman…

Even though I grew up with her name ringing in my ears, I had never realized what a badass woman I had been serenading.

So… when Isabel Parra asks Valentina for help, she is not calling upon some spiritual force to come give her courage and reassurance, as I imagined. She doesn’t expect support from the heavens above; she is asking a woman who has flown to space and back to affirm that there is no such thing as heaven at all. Isabel asks a female powerhouse to come back her up in her attempt to debunk the threats and lies of the religious zealots she sees around her.

Finding out about the true meaning of this song made me look into the lives of those who wrote and sung them. I read about Violeta Parra, Isabel’s mother, who actually wrote this song and sung it herself with more verses than the version included above, which is the one I grew up listening to.

Violeta, who wrote on of my all time favorite songs Gracias a la Vida (I give thanks to life) ironically took her own life about a year after it was released. I guess Valentina didn’t answer her question about heaven and in the end, Violeta couldn’t wait any longer to find out for herself…

Guilty pleasures

We all have them, those songs and artists that we hate to love and love to hate; they’re our guilty pleasures.

Sobby latino songs, Miley sing-a-longs, Rihanna rebel songs, Christina bootyshakers, Nickelback nanana-rock, Gaga-marches; ah yes, there is a time and place for all of these (which is usually around midnight and behind closed doors, curtains and windows :p )

So which songs would make me blush the hardest getting caught singing and dancing along to? I can feel it coming in the air tonight: it’s a list!

1.

This perfectly dramatic song can get terribly on my nerves when played on the wrong moment but when it hits me right, oh my poor neighbors!  Ahora quiiieeeeeeeeeeeeen?

2.

Like many of the fans that were with her from the very start, I was disappointed at first when Shakira started selling more sex than music. When she sings in Spanish, she still wins me over every time though and this song in particular… OK, I’ll say it: I Love it!

3.

Despite finding this guy kind of gross and the fact that I have no clue what he’s singing, my knees and shoulders can’t help but twitch, bob and rock when this songs comes on.

4.

My love for this song brings me back to high school angstiness, which pretty much gives away my approximate age, doesn’t it? Anyhoo, turn it up, here are the Guano Apes!

5.

I never really made up my mind about what I really think of Eminem. I’m always excited to hear new songs of his but don’t really listen to him much all in all. His apparent anger and ultra-specific lyrics always make me feel a strange mix of sympathy and pity. This one song however, is just really kind of cool and encouraging and great to scream along to in the car!

6.

This videoclip always mesmerizes me. It makes me feel like such a terribly arythmic, unflexible, good-for-nothing white girl… which is actually pretty accurate… My goodness, look at what those hips can do! And not just that, it all moves independently of each other O.o ! Amazing… and the song is so catchy too!

7.

The next one I have trouble admitting even to myself. It’s a song by a Dutch folk singer, now deceased, but legendary for the tears he forces down grown men’s cheeks, especially after a couple of beers. It’s one of those songs that the whole pub sings along to whenever it’s played. The song’s title means “Blood, sweat and tears”, which pretty much says it all. Also, it’s the title of the bio pic about Andre’s life.
I am most definitely not a fan, but yes I know it by heart and will channel all the inner pain I have in me to sing it the way its s’posed to.

A top 7…. That’s kind of meager, no? Not a top 5, not a top 10… I guess it kind of fits for a kind of wrong list for kind of wrong music… right?

Have a good Friday!