The beginnings of the Spanish songwriting and protest song


In Spanish songwriting there were some foreruners: poets, of course, since 98’s Generation, 27’s Generation, poets in exile and, very specially, 50’s Generation. The most importants, those who influenced in a kind of music and  writing thought for the People, were Antonio Machado, García Lorca, León Felipe, Rafael Alberti, Gabriel Celaya, Blas de Otero, Gabriel Aresti, Salvador Espriu, Celso Emilio Ferreiro, and Jesús López Pacheco, among others. In the Nova Cançó Catalana was an important forerunner in Teresa Rebull, a nurse afiliated to POUM during the Civil War that, in her exile on France, begun to sing within the movement of the French song. See a little shown of Rebull song:

But not less important was the publication of a book named Cantos de la Nueva Resistencia Española (Songs of the New Spanish Resistance) that was compiled by two Italian journalists. In this book, also named Cancionero de Einaudi (Einaudi’s songbook), Liberovici and Straniero compiled some popular tunes, some of them traditionals, others revolutionaries, but with some tricks: some young poets, as José Hierro or López Pacheco, wrote anonymously songs to this book. One of this song, “Una canción” (A song) -also named “Pueblo de España” (People of Spain)- was sung by Adolfo Celdrán in his first album. The importance of this book was such big, that even Minister of Information and Tourism, Manuel Fraga, was obligated to talk against this “difamation”.

While it is true that along the 50s two Italian journalists, Sergio Liberovici and Michele Straniero, went over all along Spain, and talked with exiled Spaniards, compiling several folk songs that may be called anti-francoist protest song, or, as they did, Cantos de la Nueva Resistencia Española (Songs of the New Spanish _He_cantado_al_pueblo___Paco_Ibáñez_(www.triunfodigital.com) Resistance), released in Montevideo in 1963, it’s on year 56, after knowing genial French songwriter Georges Brassens, when Paco Ibáñez, son of exiled Spaniards, in love with all time Castilian poetry and with French songwriting, starts to put music to poems by Luis de Góngora and Federico García Lorca: this songs shall be released in his 1st album, in 1964.

Paco lives and works on France, where French youthful (that starred the Paris’ May of 68) has a soft spot and fascination for all that Spanish political-artistic opposition to Franco’s regime. In Spain, Ángel Álvarez, the great monster of FM that from his “Caravan” (the name of his Radio program) bring to the young Spaniards the music from outside and also our songwriting, was the responsible of give to the known to the Spaniards Paco Ibáñez.

It’s Paco who gives to know to a young audience the great Castilian poetry and the French songwriting, proving that Góngora and Quevedo could serve for making protest song too. His pioneering “musicalizate” poems style was followed along those years by all the Spanish languages. The fact of being forbidden in Spain relatively soon, made of Paco a kind of example and leader of the new song. The fact of buying a Paco’s LP was a real provocation.

The othChicho__gallo_rojo.gifer great beginner was, by his origins, on Paco’s antipodes: Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, celebrated novelist Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio’s brother and writer and Franco’s minister Rafael Sánchez Mazas’ son, was an example that on songwriting really didn’t matter the one’s origins. Chicho joins Spanish Communist Party, and started to record a set of songs, signed as anonymous, known as Cancionero de la Resistencia Española (Spanish Resistance Song-Book): his 1st great success, clandestine, was the denounce of Julián Grimau’s shooting, communist leader that get arrested by Francoist authorities while he was on Spain surreptitiously and was sentenced to death by “Military Rebellion” (no comments): “Julián Grimau, hermano” (Julián Grimau, brother) becomes in the first model of Protest song.

Other songs of him points to Chicho’s great virtue of become in popular his own songs: many people thought that “Gallo rojo, gallo negro” (Red rooster, black rooster: an allegory about Spanish civil war) or “La paloma de la paz” (The pigeon of peace), by his owns, were songs of the civil war; so he gets a very desired thing by the songwriters: the full acceptation of his songs by the people, as they always have been there.

Paco and Chicho, by these reasons, are obligated to record out of the country. But the great beginner of the Spanish songwriter in general, and of the Nova Cançó in particular, was Raimon. Raimon began to sing his own songs: his first songs, very simple but very strong, are received by the audience as anthems: “Al vent” (To the wind), “Diguem no” (Let’s say no) or “La nit” (The night). Later, maybe following Paco’s steps, Raimon decided to do the same than Paco with the great Catalan poets: Middle Age’s, Renaixença’s and contemporary ones: Ausiàs March, Joan Timoneda, Salvador Espriu… they will be his inspirational. One of his best LPs is Cançons de la roda del temps (Songs of the wheel of time), made with Salvador Espriu’s poems.

Raimon__uno_de_los_primeros_y_mejores_cantautores_no_sólo_en_catalán-valenciano. Soon Raimon become in a symbol, specially when sings in TV “Al vent” and “Diguem no”, and, for that, he is forbidden on TV till 80’s decade. Raimon, with his big singular and recognizable voice, sings in Catalan-Valencian, gets to be understood for the Castilian, French and even English talkers thanks to the expressivity of his powerful voice and his music. He become in a symbol of the opposition to regime in every Spanish region, and even seems that wherever he went to play bloomed new singers and collectives: practically, after Raimon’s performance in Galicia and Basque Country appear collectives as Voces Ceibes (Free Voices) from Galicia, and Ez Dok Amairu (There’s no thirteen) from Basque Country.

Besides Raimon, the Catalan collective Els Setze Jutges (The Sixteen Judges) starts his artistic activity. For his cause, the collective recruits to people such important as Serrat, Mª del Mar Bonet, Pi de la Serra or Lluís Llach among others.Mixel_eta_Eneko_Labeguerie._Nafarra

But also is important to rescue from forgiveness to the Basque song pioneer: Mixel and Eneko Labeguerie, two French-Basque brothers which were the firsts on  record a songwriting LP on Basque, in the year 61, profiling what later shall be known as New Basque Song or Euskal Kanta Berria.

So the Spanish songwriting pioneers were these: Paco Ibáñez, who is still in active, playing concerts occasionally and unveiling himself as an un-reducible songwriter who didn’t surrender to the money nor to the fashions nor has put price to his ideas and ideals. Chicho lamentably passed away: in any way, he only get to record one LP: A contratiempo (Against time), putting his talent for other singers. Mixel and Eneko Labeguerie are still in active, but separately and in a very modest carreer. Many of the most famous members of Setze Jutges are succesfully still in active, but very occasionally. And about Raimon, who is still in active too (and on top form), it seems to be a lie that Franco were really dead and there are medias and lands in Spain where he cannot play…

In the next chapters -coming soon- we will see the formation of the great songwriter’s collectives.

 

 

 

 

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by morton on 14 marzo, 2010 at 23:33

    you need to work on your English- some of this doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Posted by Gustavo on 15 marzo, 2010 at 10:54

    I really apreciate your comment, but, why don’t you help us? You could tell us what is wrong or what you don’t understand. In other order of things, did you like what you read or you didn’t read nothing at all? Thank you. (I wrote this, realising you’re a English-speaker and not a person who wants to bother me)

  3. Posted by Gustavo on 15 marzo, 2010 at 21:40

    I’d ask to foreigners visitants (no-Spanish-speakers visitants) tell me if they don’t understand the text. I made this for all the people who wants to know about it, and doesn’t speak Spanish. I accept critics, but, please: ELABORATE IT!

  4. Songwriting help is always available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced songwriters. The most efficient way to seek and receive song writing help lies in how much effort you want to put forth to correct or improve your particular songwriting situation.

  5. hey
    a search took me to your site, and before i go to another page/post, i’d like to say that i enjoyed this post and am grateful that you wrote it in english and not spanish. i am searching for the history behind alejandro filio’s song, ‘hermano lobo’ – aside from the obvious!
    even though it’s very tardy, thanks for this post!
    z (from ecuador)

  6. I thank you very much. Unfortunately, I don’t have information about it: it scapes a little from me. Sorry for that.

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