Wednesday 11 March 2009

A Cuban In Cuba (Killer Opening Songs-Special Edition)

The car's engine is switched off at the entrance of the hotel and Gigi's voice is immediately muted. Outside, the sounds of the city become clearer: lorries thundering past, voices talking in high pitches and music blaring out of stereos.

Once inside the hotel room the only sound rushing in after the doors have been shut is the sound of the waves crashing against the old seawall outside the building.

Our lives are made up of songs. Tiny, minute, musical fragments scattered in the ether. Maybe it's Fiona Apple singing that 'I think he let me down/when he didn't disappoint me', Aretha Franklin letting us know that 'when my soul was in the lost and found/you came along to claim it' or Mick Jaggger whispering 'Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?/Oh, Angie, dont you weep, all your kisses still taste sweet/I hate that sadness in your eyes'. What we can't deny is that we have chosen tracks at some point in our lives that inform our present state of mind. Elation and despair, it's all part of the transaction in which we enter once we strike up that partnership with Miss Music and sign on the dotted line.

But what happens when we turn our stereos, CD players and iPods off? I'll tell you what happens, we allow the original Killer Opening Song in: nature itself.

During K.O.S. recent sojourn in Cuba, our weekly Introductory Album Track was exposed to the elements in the two hotels at which it stayed. In Havana, it lodged across from Malecon, the seawall that has come to signify so much in Cuba's past and contemporary history. In Ancón, the sea was less than one hundred yards away, its surface flat like a spaceship, and friendly as E.T.

Every morning and night it would be the sea the first and last sound K.O.S. heard on waking up and going to bed respectively. Every time it was a different sound, a different language, a different lyric. Neither Van Morrison, nor Santiago Feliú have the sine qua non to compete against Mamá Natura's spontaneous creative output.

That's why this post is dedicated to the ultimate Killer Opening Song: the sea. But if you don't live anywhere near it, then think of the rustle of dry leaves, the drum-roll of the river and the splash of the spring rain drenching you in its melody. Enjoy cows' low bass notes and birds singing, above all, enjoy nature, for it has the best music to offer and when you come back home, give Stevie Wonder's 'The Secret Life of Plants' another listen. It'll be worth it, I promise:

I can't conceive the nucleus of all/Begins inside a tiny seed/And what we think as insignificant/Provides the purest air we breathe/But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being/For these are but a few discoveries/We find inside the Secret Life of Plants

A species smaller than the eye can see/Or larger than most living things/And yet we take from it without consent/Our shelter, food, habiliment/But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being/For these are but a few discoveries /We find inside the Secret Life of Plants

But far too many give them in return/A stomp, cut, drown, or burn/As is they're nothing/But if you ask yourself where would you be/Without them you will find you would not

And some believe antennas are their leaves/That spans beyond our galaxyThey've been, they are and probably will be/Who are the mediocrity/But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being/For these are but a few discoveries/We find inside the Secret Life of Plants/For these are but a few discoveries/We find inside the Secret Life of Plants

Ancon Peninsula, southern Cuba, February 2009. Photo by the blog's author


Killer Opening Songs (D'Angelo's Brown Sugar)
Killer Opening Songs (Sinéad O'Connor's 'Fire on Babylon')
Killer Opening Songs (Queen's Mustapha)
Killer Opening Songs (Caetano Veloso-Haiti)
Killer Opening Songs (David Bowie - Unwashed and S...
Killer Opening Songs (Massive Attack - Safe From H...
Killer Opening Songs (Bob Brozman)
Killer Opening Songs (Vanessa da Mata - Vermelho)
Killer Opening Songs (The Beatles-Help!)
Killer Opening Songs (Souad Massi-Raoui)
Killer Opening Songs (Habib Koité - Batoumambé)
Killer Opening Songs (Mary Black - No Frontiers)
Killer Opening Songs (Chico Buarque & Milton Nasci...
Killer Opening Songs (David Gilmour - Shine On You...
Killer Opening Songs (Ernesto Lecuona - 'La Compar...
Killer Opening Songs (Chopin 'Fantaisie-Impromptu ...
Killer Opening Songs (He Loves Me by Jill Scott)
Killer Opening Songs (Tracy Chapman - Talkin' 'bout A Revolution)
Killer Opening Songs (Patti Smith - Gloria)
Killer Opening Song (Silvio Rodriguez - Canción del Elegido
Killer Opening Songs (Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit)
Killer Opening Songs (Fela Kuti and Jethro Tull - Jam Session)
Killer Opening Songs (Sting - A Thousand Years)
Killer Opening Songs (Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun)
Killer Opening Songs (Susheela Raman - Ganapati)

Killer Opening Songs (Aziza Mustafa Zadeh - Always)

Copyright 2009


  1. Oh, the sea. I believe in reincarnation simply because I feel such a longing to be immersed in the sea. I grew up a bike ride from the ocean and it is a part of me. I have spent most of my adult life away from the sea, and I think that is why I am returning to the sea (Sarasota) as part of my retirement.

    Thanks for the beautiful post. I was not familiar with that song -- such genius!

  2. And many thanks to you for your kind comment.

    Greetings from London.

  3. Wow--what a photo! I'm really enjoying your pics from your holiday. BTW, I was reading the WSJ and came across this, and naturally, I thought of you!

  4. I wonder if Johnny Clegg's Asimbonanga would qualify to be on your utterly brilliant list of K.O.S?
    I've laughed and loved and cried and lived that song - it is always, and in all ways, my favourite K.O.S.

    I do so agree that the song of the sea opens all the world....

  5. Thanks for that link, just a plane. In my book 'dulce de leche' translates as rice pudding. I was not familiar with the cocktail.

    Tessa, I have heard that track before ( but I didn't know what it was called. Radio Paradise has played it at some point. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  6. I know that longing only too well. Great post. Thanks.

  7. Many thanks to you, dave, Glad to see that your computer is up and running again.

    Greetings from London.

  8. What a fabulous list of killer opening songs! And an ode to Cuba, to boot. Sigh. Such a beautiful image, painted both by your words and your camera lens.

  9. Many thanks paris, my pleasure.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Thank you for posting another picture of our homeland and for the music...always the music.

  11. Every time you post you make me long to go to Cuba. There must be some way that could happen. I can teach English. Endiendo Espanol suficiamente para hablar con perros y flores. Why not?

    My openings are

    Buscando America
    Solisbury Hill
    Land of Hope and Dreams

  12. ...i'm going to send you an invitation to join globalove think tank.

    ...have you seen my other blog?

  13. Thanks for the post,
    Beautiful photo!
    See you soon!

  14. What a terrific post!
    Force of nature, the Sea...force of nature, Stevie Wonder.
    KOS- Freddie Mercury/ Bicycle...

  15. Enthusiasts of the films of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski (Blind Chance, Dekalog, The Double Life of Véronique, Three Colours Trilogy, etc) are invited to drop by my chatroom at the Brasserie Alizé on the anniversary of the director’s death, this coming Friday evening, 13 March 2009, from around 1800 GMT. Please pass on the invitation to others and hopefully see you there!

  16. What an amazing post. Wonderful music, terrific food for thought.

    We live in a land-locked place, and I long for the sea. There is no better lullaby than an ocean's whispers.

  17. Bro, me cuadra Fiona, estuve a punto de verla en el House of Blue de Orlando, pero no pudo ser.
    Empingao como siempre,

  18. Many thanks to you all for your comments.

    Greetings from London.

  19. Ay Cuban, ya sabes que a mi me encanta Andalusia pero tengo muchissimas ganas de ir a Cuba...

    estoy segura que ya echas de menos a tu tierra !

    (por cierto cuand os venis aqui ? os invitamos a una cerveza en el bar de Miguel!)

  20. Pues quizas manejemos por Espan-a en el verano asi que ya te avisare antes de partir. Muchas gracias por tu comentario.

    Saludos desde Londres.

  21. Fantastically well said. YES YES YES.

    I could sit and listen to the drones and tamburas of classical Indian music for days without ever growing tired of the sound.

    Chanting and other spiritual forms that are partially language, partially sound, also fascinate me.

    Killer opening songs. OH YEAH!!

  22. Such an amazing selection of unique songs most of us will have never got to hear without you. Love your pic too, btw, and so true about our lives being a collection of song snippets. I found your interesting.

  23. Me encanta esa canción!!! Es una de mis grandes favoritas... has escuchado la versión de Gilberto Gil? Es muy buena...

    Y el mar... tienes toda la razón. Su olor, color, sonido... es una combinación mágica. Hoy precisamente llevamos a mi mamá a tomar un refresco al lado del mar y disfrutamos mucho estar sentados al lado del bello Mediterraneo, escuchando y sintiendo su brisa.

    Muchas gracias por tu archivo de fantásticas canciones!

  24. "Our lives are made up of songs."

    so very true. for me at least.

    the sound of nature is so beautiful, peaceful, and just....fresh! i always enjoy a walk early in the morning when there's little traffic the the various creatures of natures are sing their songs, the trees and such swaying to and fro if there's wind, etc. it's all so *right*.

    i hope to get to a beach this summer to have experiences similar to those you described.

  25. Many thanks for your lovely comments.

    Susana, adoro la version de Gilberto Gil.

    Greetings from London.

  26. Buon post come sempre!
    E molto pratica la lista per farsi un giro dei tuoi post, e della tua ottima scelta musicale. Ottima combinazioni di elementi di contenuto e musica!

    Uno dei blog, dove mi faccio sempre un giro molto volentieri per rlassarmi!

    Saluti da Colonia,

    PS: cosa fanno le lenticchie? ;)

  27. Muchas gracias por tu comentario, salva.

    Saludos desde Londres.



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