The above saying, loosely translated from Spanish, means that singing (music) allows you to whittle away at life’s problems.
Ever since I remember, when as a very small child I used to hide behind my grandmother’s skirts, I was a witness and a willing participant in a burgeoning love for music, in all its variants. Later, at the ripe old age of 8 or so, and in the arms of that same grandmother, I would learn to dance the common dances of the time… and of my grandmother’s youth. Boleros, danzones, cha-chas, as well as waltzes and pasodobles (this last from Spain).
Those were times during which I, in the midst of a very innocent period of my life, used to believe that musicians were all live somewhere in a giant radio studio, waiting for us to call in with our requests. They would then dutifully march to the microphone and start singing… whatever we had asked for. These were definitely much more innocent times, compared with today… when we relegate fairy tales, imagination, and heroic adventures on to a growing mountain of forgotten lore.
One of my very favorite programs, to which I listened every day while waiting for the school bus to pick us up to bring us back to school after lunch (yes, Virginia, we used to go home for lunch…) was called “Los Hermanos Villalobo” (The Villalobo brothers) These were three cowboy brothers (yes, I know… there were no western cowhands in Cuba but, hey… a script is a script) who, much in the same way the Cartwright Family would in later TV land years, roam the countryside looking for wrongs to right. This was a basic program, but it would be the talking topic in the afternoon recesses and during one or another boring class… The discussions were an ode to the imagination and to all that we were sure we could manage to do with the help of the three hreroic brothers.
Along with a love of music, of the imagination and of the worlds created by that magical little radio box, there was a growing love to question everything, to be curious about life in general and to expect a real answer to any real question. I was blessed to grow in a family where that final edict of “BECAUSE I SAID SO” was never used… even though I am sure the adults were tired and frustrated at times with our constant badgering.
As years went by, I realized that the beautiful music I so loved was not coming from a huge live theater somewhere in the world, but from records being played by an engineer… I also had to accept –not very willingly in the beginning- that my beloved Villalobos were, in fact, three badly paid older and paunchy actors who were acting out their own fantasies in a small studio in Havana… and that all the background noises heard were the product of an old genius working his fingers off at the old sound box.
Yet, what has remained from all these midafternoon adventures of my childhood, is an everlasting love of music and an even more all-encompassing belief in the imagination and what it can envision… sometimes even to be made into reality. The imagination, which resides relegated to a semi forgotten attic in our minds, when exercised, allows us to create, look into and explore other worlds, other concepts and other creatures and… maybe… Who knows...they may be looking back at us!!
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