In college, the summer after my junior year, I went on a study trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. We stayed in a family’s house, did language classes in the morning (including a couple hours of “conversation time” where we got to sit outside under some beautiful poinciana trees and discuss various things in Spanish), and then art classes in the evenings.
|The somewhat perilous walkway into Armando’s studio.
An artist named Armando taught us ceramics, bookmaking, and other art forms in his studio. In addition to getting to learn art forms, and seeing some of Armando’s really cool found object sculptures (and the art and graffiti his students had scrawled on his walls), I got a bit of a musical education…
…and I found out about this guy!
|He has a line in one of his songs that goes (in Spanish), “I could be Bugs Bunny because of my teeth.” Now you see why!
That’s Pedro Guerra
, a Spanish singer/songwriter. At first, one of the other students and I heard his song “Peter Pan” and only picked up the words “pan, pan, pan,” and thought it was a song about bread. Armando clarified the song meaning for us and we were able to appreciate it better. 😉
When I got home from Mexico, I bought the albums “Golosinas
” and “Hijas de Eva
,” and I still listen to them frequently, eight (!!!) years later. It’s good to listen to while making art, because it’s pretty mellow, but not so much so that you fall asleep. If you know Spanish, the lyrics are really interesting and he writes about a variety of topics (not just Peter Pan, but the “Hijas de Eva” album is about women through history, from Eve until the present day, and the “Golosinas” album has stories about different types of people – the song “Hechos de Gente” is one of my favorites). But even if you don’t know Spanish, his voice is expressive enough that you get the picture.
And actually, I sometimes prefer listening to songs in languages I don’t know (or don’t know very well). Understanding the song can be too distracting sometimes. And if you don’t know the song, you can imagine it’s about anything, or just focus on the melody and the singer’s cadences and ignore the words. I could do an Inspired Monday post every week about different songs in foreign languages I like, but I’ll spare you all…