Friday, February 13, 2015

Sosa/Guarany: "Si se Calla el Cantor"


A hot spell during the Cold War, the 1960s-1970s saw the rise to power of right-wing dictatorships all over Latin America, generally supported by the U.S. under the pretext of countering/preventing Soviet influence. Whether that influence was real or merely imagined often was a secondary consideration.

Following the Cuban Revolution, those decades were important for Latin American (perhaps Ibero American would be more precise) folk music, as a generation of composers, musicians and singers came of age and adopted diverse streams of revolutionary thought, giving origin to the Nueva Canción musical movement.

In Argentina two particularly important names were Mercedes Sosa and Horacio Guarany (in Spanish), both of mixed Amerindian and European backgrounds.

Before playing the video, look at the picture below.


It depicts a man and a woman embracing (Guarany and Sosa) -- maybe lovers or friends -- smiling, happy in each other's company. Now, look more closely: the Philips logo on the long play's cover top left corner.

Perhaps it's just me, but I find that cover powerfully symbolic of capitalism's fundamentally inhumane, irrational, self-destructive nature.

If you believe the Argentine dictators, those two persons were extremely dangerous fifth-columnists, Soviet-backed anti-capitalist activists (don't they look "scary" to you?), and yet, when it comes to making money, the capitalists behind Philips did not mind giving them a break.

But that's not the half of it. In their obsession with saving capitalism, the Argentine dictators could not trust Philips themselves on judging what was good for them. Not even a seal of approval, like the logo, was enough for overzealous defenders of the "free" market.

Or maybe the reason they were considered dangerous was that the couple in the picture seemed happy. Love and friendship, happiness, a truly human life -- it seems -- is too much to ask for people like us.

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Sosa interprets "Si se Calla el Cantor" (trans. "if the singer falls silent", full lyrics translation), Guarany (music and lyrics), also sings and plays the guitar.

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