Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Tunes for Tuesday -- Colombian Daddy
My wife has been twisting my arm for quite some time in an attempt to get me to do this: Write about Colombian music. Of course she knows that I am no authority on the subject. But, how many other people does she know who lived the first 26 years of their lives in Colombia (and married an honorary Colombian who writes a blog)? OK, so having established my credentials, all 26 of them, here we go. . . .
Let's first talk about Colombian party music:
Every time the two of us attend a "party" in the USA, I try really hard to stay focused on keeping up with the conversations about sports and other trivialities while emptying the corn chip platter. She is in charge of the actual socializing. But after a while I always end up asking her the same question: "So, when is this party going to get started?" She laughs and says, "No. They aren't going to push the chairs against the walls and start dancing!"
And here I will quote from a Literature Nobel Price Laureate, Colombian pride Gabriel García Márquez: "Every gathering of more than two Colombians will undoubtedly turn into a dance."
Now before you think that I am a Colombian-party monster, there is a reason why I was exiled to the USA: I never really learned how to dance. This is a serious confession because in Colombia not knowing how to dance means that you will never socialize with the opposite sex, or for that matter have any friends of the same sex. I actually played a game of chess once with the other nerd in the group while the rest of the group danced away and actually got to meet the girls. I have to tell you, it is hard to think about your next chess move when salsa music is blaring in the background.
Because the connections between my cerebellum and my feet where decidedly faulty, I compensated with other abilities: the ability to stay sober, the ability to stare, and the ability to pay a lot of attention to the music. And soon I discovered that my favorite was Salsa music. I found it impossible to dance to, yet intricately rich.
Ok, hold that thought because there is one more observation that I have made over all these years of staring blankly during parties: There are certain songs that will strike a chord with any Colombian. You could even experiment with them. Suppose that you are in a crowded place outside Colombia, and you really want to know if there are any Colombians near by. You play one of these songs and there they are, easy to spot. The guy who stopped walking, the other guy whose jaw dropped, the lady who started dancing with a baby, the teens dancing like they belong to a dance company, the ones in the corner screaming "juepajé", oh yeah, and that guy dancing on top of the table. They are all Colombians. The people who seemed annoyed, or kept walking, or made some comment that included the words "oh it sounds like the cha-cha" are not Colombians.
So over the next few Tuesdays I will share with you some of those songs. The ones that most Colombians would recognize within four notes. For now, I'm afraid you will just have to keep reading this blog until I reveal the first one next Tuesday. And for any Colombians out there, I'd love to hear your picks.