Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clandestino: Esperando La Ultima Ola... :: Manu Chao

I've been toting this album around with me since 1999. Nearly a decade has gone by, and I still love it.

I was introduced to Manu Chao while studying in Salamanca, Spain for a month with a group from my high school. There is nothing quite like a group of Midwestern 16 and 17-year-olds taking class during the day, running amok at night, and going on excursions around the Iberian Peninsula on the weekend. The memories from this trip are so amusing, as are the memories from when we returned. Upon returning to Wisconsin, one of the goody-two-shoes students told her mom that many of us took part in Spain's lively nightlife and delicious sangría (¡qué sorpresa!). Outraged and disappointed that such a seemingly upstanding group of students would participate in such activities and negatively represent our fine educational establishment, mom called our teacher, and the rest is history. I will never forget that day in class when our señora, a fiery Chilean woman, said to us, "¡Oye! You are all bastards! You should leave the National Hispanic Honorary Society!" I had never been called a bastard before, and who better to do it first than my high school Spanish teacher? In the end, no one confessed, none of us left the honorary society, and the goody-two-shoes tattler graduated as one of our class valedictorians. ¡Qué grandes recuerdos!

Anyway, Manu Chao (born José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao) is from France, but of Spanish heritage. His parents fled Spain for France during Franco's harsh dictatorship, and he spent his childhood in the suburbs of Paris. While Manu Chao hadn't received much attention in the U.S. until the last few years, he has been a mainstay in the European music scene for almost 20 years. Manu Chao started making music in the '80s, and was the part of a few different bands, most notably Mano Negra. Clandestino, released in 1998, represents Chao's departure into a solo career. Since then he has released additional solo albums, and has collaborated with multiple artists and musicians.

I'm totally drawn to Chao's unique sound, it always picks me up and makes me smile and daydream of travel. He draws from many different languages (French, Spanish, English, and Arabic, to name a few) and from a huge variety of musical influences. A little rock, a little electronica, little reggae, a little punk, a little schmaltz, he samples and mixes and creates a wacky patchwork of international sounds, rhythms, and melodies. His lyrics are honest, covering love, life, and questions about the future, and often revealing his left-wing political ideology. I imagine that having parents that fled Franco's dictatorship, and growing up in 1960s Paris amongst intellectuals and artists would do that to a kid. In fact, one thing I found out while writing this blog is that Manu Chao is close with the Zapatistas, the armed and infamous socialist Mexican revolutionary group. Interesting.

From energetic and raucous to quiet and lulling, Clandestino's tracks flow seamlessly from one to the next. And truth be told, I like the album as a whole - while I do enjoy seperate tracks, I think the tracks really are strongest when they are listened to as an album. One of my favorites, however, is "Lagrimas de Oro". Check it!

Lagrimas De Oro - Manu Chao

Spanish lyrics:
Tu no tienes la culpa mi amor
que el mundo sea tan feo
tu no tienes la culpa mi amor
de tanto tiroteo

vas por la calle llorando
lagrimas de oro
vas por la calle brotando
lagrimas de oro

Tu no tienes la culpa mi amor
de tanto cachondeo
tu no tienes la culpa mi amor
vamonos de jaleo

ahi por la calle llorando
lagrimas de oro
ahi por la calle brotando
lagrimas de oro

llego el cancodrilo y super chango
y toda la vaina de maracaibo
en este mundo hay mucha confusion
suenan los tambores de la rebelion

suena mi pueblo suena la razon
suena el guaguancon
baila mi mama
suenan los tambores de la rebelion

suena mi pueblo suena la razon
lagrimas de oro
suena mi pueblo suena la razon
suena el guaguancon

tu no tienes la culpa mi amor
lagrimas de oro...

English Translation!

It really isn't your fault my love
That the world is so unfair
It really isn't your fault my love
of the shooting everywhere

walk the street weeping
teardrops of gold
You walk the street dropping
teardrops of gold

It really isn't your fault my love
of all this taunting
It really isn't your fault my love
we are always fighting

Here on the street weeping
teardrops of gold
Here on the street dropping
teardrops of gold

the crocodile and the super kid have come
and all the trash from Maracaibo
In this world there's much confusion

Sound the rebellion drums
Sound of my people, sound of reason
Sound of the music
Dance my mother

Sound the rebellion drums
Sound of my people, sound of reason
teardrops of gold

Sound of my people, sound of reason
Sound of the bus that's leaving...

It really isn't your fault my love
teardrops of gold


Happy New Year! Next up - local music month. I have my first band all picked out...stay tuned!

XOXO
Kim

2 comments:

.:m-e-g-g-o:. said...

i love this song!!!!

this is such a great post kim :)

Kim said...

Aw, thanks Meghan! It felt good to post again - it had been WAY too long. THis weekend I'm posting my local music selection - I'm stoked!