1. What is your current obsession?
(I gave the alter ego on the left the opportunity to respond to this question)
Dangling prepositions. I... I... I... pity those poor little darlings hanging perilously at the end of sentences about to fall... in... in... into a linguistic vortex from which they rarely come out alive. I... I... I... have spoken to my shrink about it and he said that this was a phenomenon he was unaware of. Arrrghhhh!
2.Which item of clothing do you wear often?
Although, some people think I am a dandy, that's not me, that's Juan Antonio Pesetas, another alter ego of mine. For me it's jeans, T-shirt and if the weather is mild or warm, a pair of Birkenstocks.
3.What's for dinner?
Since this post is coming out just before the stroke of midnight, let's just say that on Fridays I usually fry a steak that has already been marinated in the fridge twenty four hours before with garlic and onions. I love cooking, in fact my section Food, Music Ad Infinitum is making a comeback soon.
4.What are you listening to?
This is where my other alter ego (on the right) steps in.
One of my hobbies since I came to live in the UK has been to make compilation tapes and CDs (I have not upgraded to iPod yet, finances and all that jazz). Whether it is to listen to whilst I am jogging, or chilling out at home, for friends or family, I have made close to 30 or 40 of these little musical mementoes. I like to think of compilations as the act in which you bring musicians and singers together in a natural and organic way, almost like moving them all into a neighbourhood of your choice and seeing them all getting on nicely with each other. It is with pleasure, then, that I will be sharing with you my lovely readers and fellow bloggers the latest collection of songs I've put together. The name is '... Longina Seductora/Cual Flor Primaveral...' (Seductress Longina/ Like a Spring Flower) and it is a reference to a famous Cuban love song penned by Manuel Corona in the 1910s about a woman whose name was Longina O' Farrill. The legend goes that the famous Cuban composer fell for this ebony beauty and wrote the song a couple of days after meeting her. In the case of this compilation there are roughly seventy-odd songs written and sung by women, or just performed by women (important remark, as I have Ojos de Brujo included in the credits). The playlist below is but a snippet of all the songs that appear in the three CDs, soon to be four, (I just wanted the playlist to be a taster and even youtube has its limitations) and where possible I have substituted a particular track that was not available on the popular site for another one that I think would be just as fitting.
1- Soul Food by Martina Topley-Bird. She wasn't just Tricky's sidekick and erstwhile real-life partner. She is a very good musician and singer whose debut album, 'Quixotic', has found a soulmate in my CD player. I sometimes wonder what neighbours make of me bobbing my head and up down and shaking it side to side whilst 'Soul Food' is playing in the kitchen and I'm doing the washing up, especially the following lines 'I'm gonna show you (show you)/Show you where the good/times start, baby/I wanna show you (show you)/I wanna show you where/the feeling sparks/I'm gonna let you (let you)/Take all the time you need/Cause when the soul starts fallin', baby/We got time to leave (we got time to leave).
2- La Martiniana, performed by Susana Harp. Lila Downs' version is not available on youtube, but I think Susanita rises to the occasion very well indeed and I enjoy this version as much as I love Lila's.
3- Sounsoumba by Oumou Sangare. One of my favourite singers from Mali. Her songs deal with social and gender issues. This is a track that denounces the practice of polygamy. This is not the song that appears in my collection, but I still think it is an apposite tune.
4- Solitude Standing by Suzanne Vega. This was the album that introduced me to this excellent singer's music. And besides the obvious tracks, 'Luka' and 'Tom's Diner', there are some blinders in this record, like 'Night Vision' and the album's title track. Also, that bassline is ferocious and the guitar untamed. I defy you to stay quiet.
5-Friendly Pressure by Jhelissa. This is a song that has aged gracefully and which reminds me of my very own early 90s younger self.
6- I Am Stretched On Your Grave by Sinéad O' Connor. A powerful track by a very powerful performer. I am stretched on your grave/And will lie there forever/If your hands were in mine/I'd be sure we'd not sever. Need I write more?
7- Flash by Yusa. Since I had already posted 'Naufragio' by the same singer in my section 'Killer Opening Songs' some time ago, I chose a different one for this playlist, but on the CD it is the soulful, jazzy sound of 'Naufragio' that can be heard. 'Flash', though, shows off Yusa's bass-playing skills and taking into account that there are very few women who are known for playing that particular instrument it is all the more appropriate to include this clip in this mini-selection.
8-Raised on Robbery by Joni Mitchell. Whoever said that Joni couldn't rock? So demure and dainty and boy, she brings the whole house down!
9- Corre Lola Corre By Ojos de Brujo. One of the most fantastic flamenco outfits I have seen in recent years. Their sound includes hip-hop and Afro-Cuban rhythms. And Marina 'Canillas' Abad has an amazing voice.
10- Oh Well by Fiona Apple. Three albums later and I am a Fiona Apple fan. Lyrics, musicianship, arrangements, the whole lot. Pop does not get any better than her work.
11- Cristal, performed by Mercedes Sosa. Mention that name to anyone born in Latin America or Spain and you will see their eyes water. And this particular tango, Cristal, has Mercedes' autograph all over it.
12- I'll Be All Smiles Tonight, performed by Martina McBride and The Chieftains. This is one of those performances that sends shivers up your spine. Since it was given to me as a Christmas present last year, 'Down the Old Plank Road' has rarely been out of my CD player. And that's mainly because of the guest female singers. Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin and Martina McBride are just some of the names that make this record a must-have. Brilliant.
13-Cupido by Maria Rita. Elis Regina's daughter has a lot to live up to, musically at least. And she has measured up so far. Her voice is strong and her songs stand out in a country, Brazil, where there's no shortage of good musicians.
14- It Ain't Necessarily So, performed by Aziza Mustafa Zadeh. In my compilation, '... Longina Seductora, Cual Flor Primaveral...' I have got two other different tracks by this excellent Azerbi pianist whose work I never tire of promoting. Unfortunately neither song is available on youtube, which is a pity. One of them is 'Passion', a mano a mano between Al Di Meola on guitar and Aziza on piano and whenever I am driving and listening to this particular song I have to apply extra pressure to the steering wheel. You don't know what that tune does to your body, including your brain. However this clip shows off Aziza's versatility very well.
5.Say something to the one that tagged you.
Lizzy, thanks for writing such a lovely blog. I still have the image from 'Sunrise Through Pines' in my head.
6.Favourite vacation spot?
Granada. Spain has a special place in my heart. Scotland took my breath away and I love Dorset, southwestern England, where we usually go camping in the summer. I adored Malaysia where we spent our Easter break last and would like to go again next year. And obviously, I like going back to my own country, Cuba.
7. What I'm reading right now?
'The Life of Bach' by Peter Williams as I write. If not, whatever you see on the right handside of my blog.
8. Four words to describe myself.
Passionate, facetious, cynical and self-confident.
Hardly ever guilt, most of the time pleasure.
10. First Spring thing?
Getting back on my bike.
11. What do you look forward to?
To Chelsea winning the treble this season (tough chance, though, as I write they have yet to face Barcelona in the European Cup semifinal, second leg and Manchester United has all but secured the Premier League title for a third year running), to the Yankees finally getting their act together and winning the US championship (I refuse to call it World Series) and to my hometown baseball team, Industriales, doing the same (eliminated by the Isle of Youth from the play-offs, l'horreur, l'horreur!), to seeing Gigi, the Ethiopian singer, performing in the UK some day (her album 'Gold and Wax' has been playing on a loop in my CD player, at home and in the car), to seeing Lorna Feijoo performing 'Swan Lake' one day again (sigh!). I look forward to going back to teaching my monthly Afro-Cuban dance class in the autumn. I look forward to the end of the US embargo so that the Castros have no more pathetic excuses to keep my people under their despotic control. I look forward to the summer holidays because, hopefully, I will be driving around Spain and possibly France with my family.
Many thanks Lizzy for this meme.
Next Post: 'Song for a Spring Sunday Morning', to be published on Sunday 10th May at 10am (GMT)