Thursday, October 28, 2010

Concha Buika: Smokin'!

Concha Buika con el Cigarrillos Peligrosas
(Image from Kadmus Arts)

I appreciate a woman who's not afraid to present herself openly smoking a cigarette despite these politically correct times . . . though I don't perceive any actual smoke rising from the tip.

I'd heard of Buika, or at least seen her image somewhere, but only Larry Rohter's recent NYT article, "A Singer From Everywhere Arrives Here" (October 21, 2010), sparked my interest in listening to her sing. Her parents fled Equatorial Guinea for Spain in the late 60s or early 70s, I gather, for she was born on the island of Majorca in 1972 and grew up there as the only black kid and hung out with the local Gypsies (no Gypsy scholars, though):
Outside the house . . . Buika (pronounced BWEE-kah) spent time with the local Gypsies and absorbed their passion for flamenco and the tradition of "cante jondo," or "deep singing."

"I identified with their solitude," she explained, speaking Spanish in an accent close to Castillian, "because we were the only black family on the island, and I was the only black kid, which was very difficult for me."

But American music also fascinated her, both jazz and pop. When asked about female singers who influenced her style, notable for its dark and raspy intonation and bent notes, she mentioned not just the flamenco singers Lola Flores and Remedios Amaya but also Bonnie Raitt, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, whom she probably most resembles. Her favorite male singers include both Michael Jackson and Julio Iglesias, and she said her preferred instrumentalists are John Coltrane and Bill Evans.
That's quite an eclectic collection, which intrigued me since I'm rather an eclectic collection of interests myself . . . in my own, obscure fashion. The good multiculturalism. I therefore went to You Tube and chose "No Habrá Nadie en el Mundo," taken by Buika's image with the cigarette that you see above. The title means something like "There Won't be Anyone in the World," but I don't know specifically what the song concerns. Love, probably. Flick away a cigarette butt anywhere, it's likely to land on a love song.

Let's find out by borrowing the Spanish lyrics and adapting the English translation from All the Lyrics:
Desde que el agua el libre,
Libre entre manantiles vive.
Jazmines an llorao,
y yo no comprendo como
en tus ojos niña solo hay desierto.

Hermosa era la tarde,
cuando entre los olivos nadie,
nadie vio como yo a ti te quise, como te quiero.
Hoy los olivos duermen y yo no duermo.

No habra nadie en el mundo que cure
la herida que dejo tu orgullo.
Yo no comprendo que tu me lastimes
con todo todo el amor que tu me diste (x2)

Pá cuando tu volvieras, pensé en cantarte coplas viejas,
esas que hablan de amores y del sufrimiento.
Cuando tu vuelvas, niña, te como a besos.

Y volaremos alto donde las nubes van despacio.
Despacio va mi boca sobre tu cuerpo,
tan lento que seguro se pare el tiempo.

No habra nadie en el mundo que cure
la herida que dejo tu orgullo.
Yo no comprendo que tu me lastimes
con todo todo el amor que tu me diste (x4)
Now for the English translation:
Since the water is free,
it lives free among springs.
Jasmines have cried,
and I can't understand my girl
why there's only desert in your eyes.

It was a beautiful afternoon,
when among the olive trees nobody,
nobody saw how I loved you, how I love you.
And now the olive trees are sleeping, but I can't sleep.

There won't be anyone in the world able to cure
the wound left by your pride.
I can't understand how you hurt me now
after having given me so much love. (2x)

I thought about singing old verses to you upon your return,
the kind that speak about love and suffering.
When you'll come back, my girl, I'll devour you with my kisses.

And we'll fly high, up to where the clouds move slowly.
My lips slide along your body slowly,
so slowly that time will stop for sure.

There won't be anyone in the world able to cure
the wound left by your pride.
I can't understand how you hurt me now
after having given me so much love. (4x)
See. I told you it would be about love. I should even have said "love gone wrong." What else is there to sing about? Except for love gone right . . .

But it sounds pretty good in Spanish, and for those interested in more by or about Concha Buika, visit You Tube, or Wikipedia, or even her official site.

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At 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her songs are very poetic. Love listening to her albums. I think she has had 4 already?

At 4:22 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

Her favorite male singers include (...) Julio Iglesias

how old is this guy? let's see... less than 40! well, this is a strange world. Julio Iglesias was the top romantic voice in Italy back in the 80's (he started to record his LPs directly in Italian), but I can hardly imagine a young Italian woman, nowadays, including his name in the list of her favorite singers.

What about...?

At 6:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mac, I've only recently discovered her, but she's great. Does she write her own songs?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dario, I was also surprised by the Iglesias reference. He must be an old man by now.

I just checked Wikipedia and discovered that he was born in 1943. He's about 67.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:40 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Coltrane, Billy Holiday and Nina Simone would be older than 67. She may have meant Julio Iglesias Jr. which is 37 and Spanish.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good point. I suppose I was just surprised by the tribute to Iglesias, but perhaps I've heard too little by him to judge.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:27 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Oh yes! I remembered that Iglesias had a singing son, but his fame in Italy lasted just few years, immediately after the father's glory days, nor did I remember that his name, too, was Julio.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Would he then be the one?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She means Julio Iglesias (father) who is idolized in Spain...

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


Jeffery Hodges

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