Forget Flamenco: Outsider Music About Andalucía (pt. 3)

Here in Spain, it’s easy to be considered an outsider. Local cultures — regional, provincial and even municipal — are so strongly rooted that often a resident of the next town over is seen as somehow alien. The general consensus is that anyone from the other side of any border is most likely, usually in all senses of the word, queer. There exist fierce rivalries between the soccer teams of little villages with only a country road and fields of sunflowers separating them: Arcos de la Frontera vs. Espera has a dubious reputation of rioting and vitriol, that is whenever the two clubs coincide in what is the equivalent of the 5th or 6th tier of the regional league. The FC Barcelona-Real Madrid of the Sierra de Cádiz this is not, but it is astounding nevertheless that two bordering, seemingly innocuous, idyllic hilltop pueblos are capable of even finding cause for such animosity. You’re an outsider, even if I can see your town through my kitchen window.

One therefore finds no issue in considering  a Spanish-Italian (Panamanian-born) man and a Basque woman to be complete outsiders if they sing an ode to the Andalusian capital of Sevilla. Miguel Bosé and Amaia Montero represent two of the most important figures in contemporary Spanish pop; the former has been among the most prolific, eccentric and respected  artists over the past 30 years in Spain (the poor Spaniard´s David Byrne?), the latter being the former frontwoman of La Oreja de Van Gogh, one of the most popular Spanish rock groups of the 90s and 2000s. The song ¨Sevilla¨ is Bosé´s, origianlly from his 1991 album Papito, and this collaboration arose for the 2007 re-release of the disc, each track being reworked with the inclusion of a special guest. ¨Sevilla¨ stands out as the easily most impressionistic song of the bunch, weaving together hushed tones, a mesmerizing melody, vaguely Arabic interludes and an outro of Holy Week horns to invoke a sense of the romantic´s Andalucía.

Much like the first song we heard in this series, Pink Martini´s ¨Andalucia,¨ ¨Sevilla¨ seems to be more a self-conscious admiration from a safe distance than an actual attempt to emulate the local sounds and rhythms (even the Easter marching band finale is merely a snappy approximation, meant to remind, not to mimic). Bosé is aware that while sevillanos can effortlessly tap into the essence of their city´s rich musical heritage, for an outsider to do so would most likely come off as pompous, absurd, and perhaps even quixotic. Lyrically, he recognizes his status as outsider, while at the same time suggesting that showing a true compassion for the city can erase that inconvenient label, a message I firmly believe in. The chorus speaks of how one of the city´s most emblematic neighborhoods can steal any visitor´s heart:

El corazón que a Triana va

Nunca volverá

Sevilla…

(The heart that goes to Triana / Will never return / Sevilla)

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~ by lincolnbrody on February 1, 2011.

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