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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dumb joke

I saw this headline about "Elephants' low cancer rate explained" and I thought, well when was the last time you saw an elephant smoking a cigarette?


I got my book in the mail finally. Now I realize that I have been a Lorquista since 2006, when I began to write AL. Now having two books about him, and a third underway, I think I qualify as a Lorca guy by now.


I hadn't listened to Nuestro Flamenco for a while.  I looked yesterday, and the most recent interview was of Miguel Poveda about his Lorca record--just as I was about to write about this record.  I am listening to it right this moment. He doesn't say anything unexpected about his recording.

This record essentially justifies my entire project, but it came out after I had begun. If Poveda hadn't done a Lorca album he would have not helped me very much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fountain Pen

I took these notes in fountain pen during the first ten days of the month. During the second ten days, I will be writing on the computer. The last 11 days I will be devoted to producing a penultimate draft of what I have written during the second period.

The funny thing is that I haven't looked at my fountain pen notes as I have been writing.  I just know what I have to say.  If I threw them away it wouldn't be a problem, even.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The take away

Flamenco uses of Lorca actually tend to go against flamenco stereotypes and folklorism. They are not "popularizing" in any sense, or a way of "selling out" commercially.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


I came up with this idea for my 2009 Lorca book that I should be attentive to my own aesthetic reactions with a specific purpose in mind. This does not mean that my personal taste is the final word, but that the reaction to something contains information of value, if analyzed. So I find myself reacting to something as pretentious, kitschy, sentimental, that this also tells me something about the ethical stance of the artist toward the material. For example, sentimentality, as an aesthetic flaw, is linked to an ethical failure to see Spanish culture in its individuality: it is a way of using the stencil of Spanish culture and imposing it on the material.

Not being able to be attentive to one's reactions would be like not being able to feel physical pain, or like being a chef unable to taste food.

Where this gets me into trouble, of course, is when I then take that reaction as definitive.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Finding out you're wrong

A had some hypotheses about Flamenco versions of Lorca that turned out to be wrong. I had thought that Flamenco singing of Lorca would have the effect of emphasizing his connection with Flamenco, but what I actually found when I started to submerge myself in the material was something more interesting than that. If you always found what you expected to, scholarship would be very dull.


I'm doing a new thing with the chapter, dividing the month into three parts. The first ten days I take notes in fountain pen and sometimes on the blog itself. The next ten days I will work on a word document and get part of a draft written. The last third of the month I will perfect that part of the draft that I have written. It might not be the whole chapter, but the idea is to spend a month getting a substantial part of one chapter done.


I was looking at the CD I bought of La leyenda del tiempo. All of a sudden I saw that there was another cd in the case! Well, it wasn't a CD, but a DVD of the documentary.  My presupposition that I had bought just a CD made me not even look for this extra bonus, which I found purely by accident when I needed to look something up in the liner notes.  I felt stupid and lucky at the same time.

Monday, August 6, 2018


I'm listening to a Spanish pop-star / actress sing Lorca.  The album came out in 1998, at the 100th anniversary of Lorca's death.

The cover image shows a doctored photo of her standing behind an iconic picture of Lorca with her arms around his shoulders.  On the back of the CD we see what would have been the back of that image.

The instrumentation on most tracks is very commercial sounding, with drums, electric bass, and a lush string section. Other instruments on the salsa numbers.

The first track is "Son de los negros de Cuba." She does it in a son style, more or less, but with a thin voice.  It is pleasantly rhythmic.

The second is "Romance de la pena negra." She sings it as though it were a sweet, banal love song, with no depth at all.

3) "Herido de amor." She does this at a slow tempo, so at least there is not a strong disjunction between the words and the lyrics. The overly commercial background gets unbearable after a while.

4)  Now comes a version of Leonard Cohen's "Take this Waltz," translated into Spanish. Big surprise. Enrique Morente had already done this. Thumbs down. It smooths out Cohen's roughness and vigor.  

5) Now comes another pseudo-salsa number, "Nocturnos de la Ventana." Listenable but a little sweet.  Disjunction between word and music?  It doesn't seem like she actually understands the words she is singing.

6) Another slow number. "Siete corazones." She does this poem as another sweet love song, with sound effects of water running.  It's a poem about alienation, someone who has lost his sense of self. "I have seven hearts / but my own I cannot find."

7) "Romance de la luna."  A pleasant sounding commercial background, reminiscent of 70s pop. Yuck. This one actually made me laugh out loud.

8) "Canción tonta." Slow and sweet, in a pleasant ternary meter.   A sentimental treatment.  Music by Kiko Veneno, who was on "La leyenda del tiempo."

9) "Muerto de amor." Another LOL number. A very happy, dance-like tempo and beat.  Does she know what the poem is about?  

10) "Por tu amor me duele el aire." Not the most offensive track on the record.

11) "Canción del gitano apaleado." A rapid dance beat makes this into a happy song. It is about a gypsy getting beat up by the police.  I am speechless.

12) "Alma ausente."  A version of one of the sections of "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías."  Very sweet sounding.

Am I being too harsh?  I don't think so.  I'll have to listen to other songs of hers to see if I just hate her as a singer or just her Lorquian efforts.  She also recorded the "Canciones populares."

I guess I don't object to the pop music per se, or even to a pop treatment of Lorca, but to the superficiality of the approach.  There is no emotional depth, no tragic consciousness. Pop music can express genuine emotion, but there has to be a genuine connection between the music and the words.