Saturday 12 January 2008

Road Songs (Lacrimosa)

Writing about rain in London is an oxymoron. That much I know. A landscape that in winter is draped mainly in different shades of grey coupled with rising levels of humidity might not be an obvious topic to write about when discussing songs to listen to whilst driving. But as you well know this column defies logic and dogmas.

There was a time when I was afraid to go out driving if it was raining. This takes me back several years when I was still learning how to drive. Whenever the sky got darker and a group of cumulonimbus was discernible on the horizon my first reaction was to get on the phone to my instructor and ask him, in a voice barely disguising my angst, whether we would still be going out for our lesson. The reply on all occasions was resolute and firm: Yes.

Fast-forward to the present-day and that anxiety is almost gone. I cannot say that I enjoy driving in the rain as it is highly perilous and you can easily lose control of your vehicle. But at least I try to make the most of it. And music usually helps.

My first track is rain-themed, by the way. And that is because this natural phenomenon, so essential to us and other living organisms, can also fast-track you to nostalgia, that bittersweet longing for the past. And this is a tear-jerker, especially to us, Latins. This song was and I think still is very popular in Cuba because it manages to convey passion and commitment in a few lines. Excellent.

As I cruise the streets of London in my car whilst it is pouring down outside the wipers on my windshield enter a strange relationships with other cars wipers. Their rhythmic 'splish-splosh' motion resembles the bows in the hands of expert violinists and when you are stuck in a set of traffic lights, or waiting to move off in a roundabout, it seems to me that a whole orchestra of windshield wipers have taken over the city and delivered their own perfect symphony. And then this melody comes into my mind. Mozart's swansong, which, unfortunately, he never got to finish. Touching.

One's relationship with rain can be a love-hate affair. All those wet roads, the risk of accidents and the lack of visibility are not hurdles to laugh at. In the same way some partnerships in real life can and do, indeed, turn out that way. This singer's husky voice cannot conceal the pain of
what she is going through. When I first heard her I was captivated by her voice and to this day her debut album remains my favourite record by her. Poignant.
The delicacy with which the following piece is executed reminds me of the rainbows formed when it stops raining. And the other day I was lucky to see a humungous one from my office window. Hmmm... yes, I was not driving at the moment. Sorry for cheating. But when I was researching the music to put on the blog in this week's column I could not help thinking about the miracle of rain-followed-by-rainbow. It is Nature, the watercolour painter, at its best and this singer is an example of that phenomenon in music. Marvellous.
And this is all for this week. I sincerely do hope it stops raining soon, but in the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the symphonic splish-splosh sounds of my windshield wipers. I hope you do, too.
Copyright 2007


  1. Cuban, a principio de los 90’s paree de escuchar el réquiem, porque se parecía demasiado al conflicto que estaba viviendo. Yo creo que en toda la obra hay un tono de ‘resignación desesperada’ y digo de resignación por no decir esa otra apelación que ambos estamos pensando.
    Macy me cuadra bastante.

    Saludos. Tony.

  2. Tienes mucha razón, asere, me parece que Mozart sabía lo que le venía encima y por eso la obra tiene un aire lúgubre y solemne. Una vez tuve una discusión con un pianista porque me atreví a sugerir que todas las piezas de Mozart, excepto el réquiem, tenían un aire alegre y festivo. El pensó que yo le estaba faltando el respeto al gran músico pero lo que yo estaba haciendo no era más que refiriéndome a un asunto que siempre me había parecido particular. Escucha las obras más famosas de Mozart y advertirás el tono jovial del que te hablo.

    Me encanta Macy y cuando encontré ese clip de Manzanero se me aguaron los ojos. No que yo le descargara mucho cuando era chama, pero lejos del caimán, ya tú sabes, hasta Esther Borja suena lindo.

    Saludos desde Londres



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