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Remembering lyrics

I do not quite remember when I wrote my First soleá , but I think it was for Antonio Mairena , on the occasion of my first and last visit to his house on Padre Pedro Ayala Street

I do not quite remember when I wrote my First soleá , but I think it was for Antonio Mairena , on the occasion of my first and last visit to his house on Padre Pedro Ayala Street, in Seville’s Nervión district. As I knew he was concerned about the soleares de AlcaláBecause I thought they were losing their purity and lacked good performers, I composed this one:

The cante por soleá
live pure among the winds
and when going through Alcalá
he dies of feeling. 

I gave it to him scribbled in a piece of paper. I read it a couple of times and, to my surprise, I have kept the rhythm hitting the table in his studio with his knuckles, where we were having coffee kindly served by his sister Rosario. When I finished doing it, I asked if I used it and I told him that I did. “It’s the proper measures, I can tell it is written by a cantaor “, He told me. I have kept the piece of paper to perform it somewhere else, I have told me, but I never heard him sing it. I have passed away five years later, and I suppose that this soleá is still among his documents.

Child of Fregenal also sang a Fandango I wrote for him, although at the time his voice was already very worn out.

With caramel flavor,
They are his cinnamon kisses.
With caramel flavor.
Sevilla knows it all,
that like me the bluff
You will not find who wants it. 

I told him that I had written it in the style of El Peluso and I retorted: “I do not sing in the style of anyone”. Then, in a faint voice, he sang the Fandango in his own style, in a whisper, before Antonio El Sevillano and the guitarist Antonio Sanlúcar. Antonio was a great lyricist, particularly of fandangos , and I remember that I mentioned: ” The Carbonero I would have sung these lyrics, I was always in love. ”

If I were asked which cantaor , of any era in flamenco I would have written to Fandango for, I would reply, without thinking it twice, that would be for Manuel Vega The Carbonero , who is one of my favorite cantaores. I think I’d write him this Fandango I composed many years ago:

An eraser
to erase memories.
An eraser.
Memories and kisses
they no longer serve you
to a half dead heart. 

Este cantaor from Seville sang about heartbreak like no other. When he was a teenager, he had a girlfriend in La Macarena district, who left him. I have suffered so much for this breakup that he sang dozens offandangos about it I like all of his lyrics (penned by him or not) but this is the one which moves me the most:

Like the marble I stayed
I found out you were getting married.
Like marble, I stayed.
I ask God to cry
that you marry and go well
although I die raging.

Like marble stone I felt
I heard you were getting married
Like marble stone I felt
I ask God, crying
That you have a happy marriage
Even if I die in sorrow. 

There are no cantaores dying of heartbreak in a Fandango   anymore

Translated by P. Young 



Arahal, Sevilla, 1958. Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...