Tuesday, May 17, 2011
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)