Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Inclinaciones espaƱolas

I am a white, blue eyed German guy. (ok, I have some Irish from my Dads side)

As a young boy, I recall watching the old westerns...you know, John Wayne, black & white movies and TV Shows.  There was always a good guy and a bad guy...a leading lady and the bad guys girl.  The leading lady was usually a blonde and the good guy usually wore a white cowboy hat.  The bad guy was often from Mexico, spoke with an accent, had a mustache and had a raven haired, dark eyed girl...just the opposite of the leading lady.

I think I was supposed to find the leading lady pretty.  Somehow, the castanet clicking Spanish lady seemed to capture my attention and imagination...dashing any hopes of the leading lady captivating me with her fine, fair features!  This was my first inclination towards Spanish "culture".

When I was about 6 or maybe 7 years old, I recall visiting some friends of my Mom and Dad.  I don't remember much except that their names were "Liz and Cedro".  Cedro...what a strange and interesting name... at least in Michigan in the 1960's!  I don't remember exactly, but I think he was from a southwestern state and he certainly was Hispanic. 

When I was about 10 years old, I heard a song on the radio that was sung in Spanish.  It instantly resonated with me (and apparently a lot of other people as it hit #9 on the Pop Charts) even though I had no idea what the lyrics meant!  I recall memorizing the song regardless.  When was the last time you memorized a song in a language you don't know!?

When I made it to High School, I decided I would take a language course.  I chose Spanish.  Could have picked German, but I didn't.  I struggled with the language each year, for the next four years!  During that time I learned things other than vocabulary words and language.  I learned of the geography of several Latin Countries.  I studied Latin cultures and the history of ancient civilizations that resided in Mexico and South America...adventurous and interesting stuff about pyramids and vanishing Mayans and the like.  I was fascinated. 

Sometime during High School, I heard that song that had been popular so long ago.  You know, the one I memorized but couldn't understand!  Well, I was a student of Spanish by God, and I set about translating the song.  Considering my poor grades in Spanish, this proved harder than you might think!  After figuring out the lyrics, I liked the song even more.  In fact, it is probably my favorite love song.

I visited Spain on a couple of occasions in the mid 80's, while serving with the U.S. Army in Berlin, Germany...Lloret De Mar and its beautiful beaches...Barcelona with its history, (Columbus sailed from here!) its huge Cathedral and its friendly, beautiful people.  I enjoyed real Sangria, and I ate my first real "Paella" here! 

All these years later, I am married to a Spanish speaking, raven haired, dark eyed beauty of Spanish heritage. (Hmmm does that make me the "bad guy"??)  I have forgotten most of my Spanish.  (Traded it in for German while overseas...who knew!?)  And I rarely hear that Spanish tune on the radio these days.  Funny how things work out.

 The Spanish group that sings the aforementioned song is called "Mocedades". It is a 6 person group (3 of which are siblings) from Biboa , Spain.  They placed second in the "Eurovision Song Contest" in 1973 with this song, and it became an instant International hit. The song is simple and exudes an innocent yearning to express the feeling of love. It reminds me of what a teenager might write to his or her first love. The song uses a mix of instruments popular in the 70's...bold brass, subtle violins and a distant lead guitar.  Combine this with the smooth background vocals, the building volume of the song, and the calm but sometimes desperate voice of the lead singer, and you have a memorable tune. When she sings of the "guitarra en la noche" and "trills" the "R" in perfect Spanish annunciation, it still gives me goose bumps. 

You are on your own for the translation, (thats half the fun!) but be careful, there are some very inaccurate translations on the web.  Here it is, from 1973..."Eres Tu".

Eres Tu (Original 1973 Eurovision)

Eres Tu (Excellent Sound)


Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Everyone appears to have an angle regarding this recent spectacle. Many of the ladies appear enamored with the “Fairy Tale” lived out by the marriage of this modern day Prince and Princess. Many of the men...could care less.

Me?  Well, I have two Razor Sharp Insights into this recent event:

1.  I was listening to a radio talk show recently, that had a British guest talking about the Royal traditions, including the Royal Weddings, being “linked to their DNA”, as it has been such a long part of the history of England and its citizens. Well, my immediate thought was, being that we were established as a Country in direct opposition to England and its desire to “Lord over us” with their Kings and Queens, it is “in our DNA” to see such “pomp and circumstance” as just that! There is no real “Monarchy” in England's governmental decision making process and it serves as a reminder of history and tradition at best. (Sort of like the old white wigs...do we really need to relive that?!)

2.  I observed the fairy tale wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. The same hype, the same media coverage, the same re-living of the British traditions. It was a glorious ceremony. Princess Di was beautiful and humble. I was frankly touched by the genuine compassion and social grace displayed by Princess Diana. She truly embodied many peoples idea of a modern day Princess in her appearance, her demeanor and her character.
I then watched in horror, over several years, as the “traditions” and the machine that is England's Monarchy, ”chewed up and spit out” a beautiful young woman that had entered the Royal Family and had “married a Prince”. I believe Princess Di would have been happier and more content marrying a common man, that would have given her love instead of fame and a title...and she would likely still be alive.

I certainly wish the best for the newly married Royal couple.  Like so many young couples, they are young and have the world, and a world of possibilities in front of them. They also have Englands hopes and expectations resting on their young shoulders. They will inevitably be compared to Charles and Princess Di. Perhaps many among us are simply hopeful that Prince William will redeem his Fathers failings and live happily ever after with his beautiful new Princess, in a way that we wished had been the case with Princess Di.

You want a fairy tale? Seek out a couple that has been married for 50 years. It is likely they had a more modest beginning, but a similar sparkle in their eyes all those years ago. They were probably as handsome and as beautiful and considered each other “Prince” and “Princess”. They may even be your Parents or Grandparents. If you look closely, when they speak of each other, you might catch a glimpse of that sparkle in their eyes.

That...is real “happily ever after”.