Poetas en Nueva York: when surrealist poetry becomes music

Written on the 12th of February, 2015

I’m going to write this post for the wrong reason. This should be a serious dissertation about surrealist poetry, but instead I’ll be saying how I liked this album when my father played it in the car fifteen years ago.

However, some people should find this interesting. People who like surrealist poetry, specifically. Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet from the early 20th century who died much earlier than he should have. In 1936, when he was only thirty-eight years old, he was shot and killed by Nationalist militia during the Spanish Civil War that shook the country from 1936 to 1939.

There’s no point in pretending to be a cultured guy: I do like reading, but I almost never read poetry. I’ve said it before, I’m just retarded when it comes to metaphores. That, and the fact that this is, after all, a music blog, is the reason why I won’t really talk about Lorca’s poetry, except from one book, Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York). García Lorca travelled to America in June 1929 and stayed in the States for about a year, mostly in New York City. During his stay there and his trip to Cuba he wrote this book, published after his death, which explores alienation and isolation and condemns urban capitalist society and materialistic modernity. I read the book seven or eight years ago and, while it was strangely hypnotizing, I barely got the general meaning of the poems.

If you still haven’t jumped off the window or hung yourself, you may be wondering why I’m rambling about this. Easy. Fifty years later after Lorca’s death, in 1986, an album was recorded to pay homage to the poet: Poetas in New York. The songs were recorded in Paris, Madrid, Rome, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Athens and Berlin. The languages also change: there’s English, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Greek and German.

No matter what the language is, each song is based on a poem from that book. Although it’s true that, after many years, I’ve learnt to truly appreciate some of the lyrics (poems), such as the ones in A Aurora, sung by Raimundo Fagner, I guess the main reason why I love this album is the memories it brings from my childhood.

Update: as my channel was deleted from youtube, unfortunately most of those songs aren’t there anymore.

What can I say, I find the songs beautiful… I mean, there’s people like Leonard Cohen, Angelo Branduardi, Patxi Andión (what a voice!), Paco de Lucía… here’s the whole tracklist.

If you’re interested in surrealist poetry, as I said, you may want to listen to this album. If you’re not, I still suggest you to listen to it; it would be nice to know how much my childhood memories are biasing me.

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