Saturday, March 4, 2017

Innocence, Music and Other Things.

I always thought that innocence and music are gifts from God. The former is pretty much gone and the latter, as represented by some of its latest iterations… well, I’m not so sure…
Ever since I was a little child, hiding behind my grandmother’s skirts, I was a witness -and participant- of a devoted love to music in all its variations. Later, when I was about 8 years old and in the arms of that same grandmother, my journey through the steps of a dance floor began. I learned to dance the music of my childhood and of my grandmother’s adolescence. Danzones, Cha-cha, boleros, Waltzes… even a street conga or two…

It was a time in which I would look behind the big radio to find the musicians that surely had to be hiding inside… Then, on realizing these folks could not really be inside there, I would be convinced that the answer was that there must be a giant theater somewhere in the radio station where troves of bands and singers would be sitting in wait for their name to be called as a result of a request from a listener. Ahh… long gone times... Much simpler and innocent than today, when imagination, fairy tales and heroic adventures are relegated to an ever-growing virtual pile of refuse.

I remember one of my favorite shows, which took place during a fifteen-minute stretch in the early afternoon, after lunch and before the school bus came to take me back to the hallowed halls of education. The little stretch of radio imagination was called “The Adventures of the Three Villalobos”. These were three brothers who were “cowboys” (yes, I know… there weren’t any real cowboys in Cuba but I did say imagination and radio and innocence, right?) and who, as a family much in the style of the latter day television Cartwrights (Bonanza) ran all over the Cuban countryside looking for wrongs to right and to defend the defenseless.

These were basic adventures. A short 15 min program but you couldn’t pry me away from the radio during those minutes. I loved it and also knew that during the afternoon the latest adventures would be a topic of discussion among my friends during the recesses. These discussions were an ode to the imagination and to the knowledge that we could be as good a hero as any of these Villalobos brothers.

Together with this love of music and to the radio adventures and all the imagination these allowed out minds to exercise, there was also a love of curiosity and questioning of all established presumptions. And there were (and are) many of these. I was lucky to grow into a family where there were no absolute bosses and where all were encouraged to talk up, to question, to discuss. I realize today this was not the norm in the environment where I grew up. And am thankful.

As years went by I couldn’t but accept that the music I used to listen to came from records played by an engineer at the radio station and not from live bands in a theater… I also had to grudgingly accept that my beloved Villalobos were but a threesome of badly paid aging radio actors in a studio somewhere in Havana and that all the galloping horses, the pistol shots and the very scarce kisses (remember, cowboys kissed their horses, not women) came from a well managed sound box and its hard working master.

What has been left in me from these and many other similar childhood adventures and dreams is a love of music and the belief that imagination is the cradle of reality and it must never be abandoned or relegated to a totally practical, “non-real” world… Imagination, which resides in that semi forgotten attic we often overlook, allows me to create and explore other worlds, other visions, other realities and, when I finally get to see them, what is to tell me these are not as real as the world from which we spy on them?

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
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Doña América and other memories.

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