Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Ton Tomato

Last night, while reading the tributes to Pete Seeger, I ended up watching videos of him performing the Cuban song Guantanamera, the tune of which is attributed to musician and radio host José Fernández Diaz, but which, in its currently accepted version has lyrics by poet and "Apostle of Cuban Independence" José Julián Martí Pérez. The imagery of Martí's poetry evokes a love of the countryside and the common people, both of which were loved by Seeger himself:

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar:
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar.

I'd translate this as "I want to give my wishes for luck to the poor of the earth. The stream in the mountains pleases me more than the sea". Damn, that's a very sweet way of looking at the world. Pete Seeger's arrangement of Guantanamera exposed a greater audience to Spanish language music, as this great Billboard article affirms. Here's Pete's original Carnegie Hall performance of the song:

Here's a great version of the song performed by Pete and his grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger in 1993:

What a dynamite performance, and the audience participation speaks to the near-universal popularity of the song.

Of course, me being a snarky bastard, I also rate for Mike Nesmith's parody of the song:

I just wish Mr Nesmith had given more attention to the verses of his parody... I'd rewrite the first verse as:

Tengo un hambre sincero,
Podría comer caballo.
Tengo un hambre sincero,
Podría comer caballo.

I bet Pete loved this parody.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Crooked Timber has another fine Seeger post up.

John Gray said...

I love it too

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Crooked Timber has another fine Seeger post up.

Very nice.

I love it too

Mike Nesmith was always an interesting performer, a talented, funny guy.

M. Krebs said...

Nesmith was partially responsible for Repo Man, so he's pretty much immortal.