When I was a boy living in Generalissimo Franco's Madrid, I made a crystal radio set. It was unamplified, used a crystal of galena, a wire whisker and a coil of lacquered copper wire wrapped around a toilet paper tube. It didn't require any electricity. I used to sneak it into bed after 'lights out' and listen to Spanish radio broadcasts. That was where I first heard Flamenco music. I liked it.
Later, my Dad took me to Andalusia where we visited various Flamenco dives. I recall the smell of red wine and rough tobacco in the night clubs and cuevas (caves) where gypsy artists played the guitar, clapped complex rhythms and sang to the most doleful music I had ever heard. There were also sweaty, dark eyed female dancers to intrigue the little feeder.
Flamenco makes the blues sound like something joyful. The blues is about being broke and alone. Flamenco is about suffering and death. At least the Flamenco I like is.
So, if you are inclined to take a break from pissing and moaning about the wretched state of government, I invite you to watch and listen to a selection of my favorites on YouTube. All three links are in the same palo or style of Flamenco called Peteneras. Enjoy:
- The first video is a classic. It is La Niña de los Peines (Pastora Pavón) singing the Peteneras "Quisiera yo renegar". It wouldn't do much good to try to explain the lyrics; suffice it to say it is about renouncing this world.
- The next selection features Carlos Saura singing a very authentic Peteneras. The producer of the video has thoughtfully added subtitles. Precise elocution has never been the long suit of spoken Andalusian Spanish; it goes right out the window in Flamenco singing.
- The final Peteneras is by Antonio Fernàdez Diaz, called Fosforito. His style is impeccable and the guitarist accompanying him is a master. The cat has got soul.