(PL) Art as a continual challenge keeps on being the premise of Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, who in an interview shortly after the release of a Cancionero (Songbook), published by Ojalá publishing house, said: I am still interested in challenge.
His new songbook comprises more than four hundred tunes- one hundred of them unknown_ It also brings forward pieces included in his forthcoming disc.
This Songbook, illustrated with drawings made by the artist himself, summarizes four decades of constant task in song-writing, and piles up such popular themes as Sueño con serpiente, Pequeña Serenata diurna, La Maza, and Ojala, among other charismatic titles.
José Marti, whose imprint appears in some of his pieces, exerted great influence on his works and way of thinking, thus his acknowledging words concerning The Golden Age as one of his first readings; especially the release published by Emilio Roig in 1953 on occasion of Martí s centennial.
That historian had the good idea of introducing the book with a foreword depicting Martí s ethics from a very early stage. From that reading, the Martí accompanying me is the human being, the son, the friend, the comrade he was, plus the patriot endowed with cosmopolitan spirit. I am also taking his substantial and beautiful stanzas with me.
Songbook, a volume completing the artist s autobiographical portrait, bears many photos depicting various stages. Rodríguez points out the importance of lyrics- or poetry-, that he started to enjoy being a kid thanks to his father, a farmer who used to read Darío, Martí, Nicolás Guillén and others. His readings- he comments- went on with authors who shook me twice with abandon , such as Cuban José Zacarías Tallet, Eliseo Diego and Rubén Martínez Villegas, whom he regards a bedside one nowadays. Also César Vallejos, who condemned me to eternal fascination and Saint-John Perse.
On the last author in the aforementioned lineup, he tells an anecdote: I was in the barracks, and a rookie in love with the exuberant images was reading Perse out loud, and I became infested with it right away until now. Then he lent me a marvelous bilingual edition of Shakespeare s sonnets, which I stupidly gave him back 20 years later.
Love is a recurrent topic in Rodríguez s compositions so he wonders what human coupling would be all about without the so-called love songs, which are like a connecting thread toward all times and places; an inextinguishable theme renewed by each human group and stage with their characteristics.
Even his testimonial lyrics, far from any voluntarism and highfalutin tones, move along a string which is both intimate and confidential. Ever since I was a boy, I went into the street to support the revolutionary process enthusiastically, but when I started to sing I avoided making pamphlets. I am the kind of person who cannot put up with flattering what he respects.
Silvio, who concedes to have praised exceptionally- Canción urgente a Nicaragua being a good example-, affirms that the we identifying songs should be the need on the singer s part to say that he is part of a collective dignity.
He also says that from the very beginning he thought that songs topics and vocabulary had to be enlarged as they both seemed stale to him. Therefore, he looked for words that were seldom used to make songs with them. The search led him to expressions discriminated against by the prevailing morale. Hence, La era está pariendo un corazón was said to be counterrevolutionary because for some people the word to bring forth was immoral, much more if it was used in a song. That is , he said, declaring that I tried to sing and cry, live, love, war, pain, was little less than a sacrilege.
Last May 4, Rodríguez s visa to the United States for attending the homage paid to folk musician Pete Seeger on his 90th birthday was delayed so much, that he could not take part in it. Apart from being discriminated against, he adds: We have been at loggerhead for many years, and that has conditioned both parties. In the US, many mechanisms keep on working on the obsolete meaning of the cold war. The same happens in Cuba, but mollified by the fact that we have been the country historically attacked.
I would like to see what share of that change proclaimed by the new US administration is allotted to the Cubans living in Cuba. I would not like to believe that the good will of that government is only for those who want to live there or those who think like them.
Songbook puts forth tunes of his upcoming album Second date, among them, Tonada del albedrío, a song devoted to Che.
Silvio regrets that the collapse of Eastern Europe was followed by a media war distorting the meaning of human freedom and reducing the hopes of social changes to the most fateful experiences of real socialism . According to his view, Che is among the revolutionary examples that globalization is trying to wipe out, and Tonada del albedrío deals with three key aspects of Che s thinking.
Lastly, the troubadour, who made his debut one day after being discharged from military service on a prime-time TV program called Música y Estrellas, in 1967, bets on a new challenge: I must concede that I am still interested in singing what is challenging; what is forbidden is interesting, above all, when it goes beyond the little game of watching if you dare .
The author is a renowned Argentinean poet.