Friday, October 8, 2010

El Carretero; Buena Vista Social Club

David Hutcheon is journalist who writes about music. He works for Sunday Times, Mojo and Time Out, all British magazines. In 2005, Hutcheon was invited to write articles for the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”. The band of today was listed by him in the book. In the next paragraphs there is the history of this amazing Cuban band, which released only this eponymous album, in 1997:

You could not make it up: a six-million-selling Cuban album that topped the German charts and bust sanctions so the musicians could play Carnegie Hall — although you cannot buy it in Havana, where its pre-revolutionary son style in seen as old hat. Not only that, it was an accident: the plan had been to take some Malian musicians to Cuba to collaborate, but red tape meant no Africans, and studio time had already been booked. Ry Cooder asked Juan de Marcos González, credited as ‘A&R consultant,’ if he knew any musicians who might be available.

González searched Havana for survivors from Cuba’s golden age, finding the singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, the pianist Rubén González, the guitarist Compay Segundo, and the bass player Cachaito López. He also put together a big band, the Afro Cuban All Stars, who recorded their own album in a burst of unhindered creativity. González was asked to suggest tunes he would like to record. He turned up the next day with them all written on a till roll. With three albums in the can, the team went their separate ways.

Although many have since decided that World Circuit knew exactly what it was doing all along, nobody could have predicted what would happen. The musicians played a handful of shows, but things snowballed without their participation. People fell for the story — retired musicians make a comeback to save music on the brink of extinction — and flocked to the stores. Was it true? Who cares?

Por el camino del sitio mio
Un carretero alegre paso
Con su canciones que es muy sentida
Y muy guajira alegre cantó

Me voy al transbordador
A descargar la carreta (bis)
Para cumplir con la meta
De mi pequeña labor

A caballo vamos pa’l monte
A caballo vamos pa’l monte(bis)

Yo trabajo sin reposo
Para poderme casar (bis)
Y si lo llego a lograr
Seré un guajiro dichoso

A caballo...

Soy guajiro y carretero
Y en el campo vivo bien (bis)
Porque el campo es el eden
Más lindo del mundo entero

A caballo...

Chapea el monte, cultiva el llano
Recoge el fruto de tu sudor (bis)

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