Thursday, June 22, 2006


If you ever need your spirits lifted fast you could do worse than to play a copy of the CD "Mercedes Sosa in Argentina". While you do keep in mind this was recorded from return concerts after her exile during the dirty war, when the fascists killed 30,000 people. There is some evidence that she performed under the threat of assassination by the still active fascists who are always threatening to make a comeback of their own. You can understand why at the end of Hermanos when she sings that of all her family that the most beautiful one is named Liberty the house erupts in cheers.

Beginning with the famous Cuban lullaby Drume Negrita and going directly into Silvio Rodriguez' intricate anti-imperialism and the great poetry of Violeta Parra the disc is a demonstration not only that great art can be political but it is as often is not. It smashes the crock of 'art for art's sake quite definitively.

From all of the great songs sung by Mercedes Sosa I'll mention two in particular. Solo lo Pido a Dios by Leon Geico, sung with Charly Garcia, is a prayer to not fall into indifference. "The only thing I ask of God is that I not become indifferent to pain, that dry death not find me an empty solitude who didn't do what needed to be done. " The mix of Sosa's earthy artistry and Garcia's rock sensibilty joined by the entire audience is anything but ironic or apathetic.

And there is also Maria Elena Walsh's La Cigarra, the cicada. "So many times I've been murdered, so many times I've died but I'm still here revived,". The audience wasn't in any doubt as to what that song meant.

Thinking about how Mercedes Sosa and so many other people in Latin America have endured and kept on through a lot worse than a lousy week of Supreme Court rulings and the media turning tricks for their pimps might not make me want to sing in the sun after a living death, but it pulls me out of myself long enough to stop being depressed.

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