Joan Manuel Serrat’s “Death of grandfather”


Serrat en la bañera (www.triunfodigital.com) Joan Manuel Serrat is the most popular Catalan songwriter, singing as in Catalan as in Castilian. Also is the most known Spanish songwriter abroad. In 1965 he came to take part of the Catalan songwriters collective Els Setze Jutges (The Sixteen Judges), being one of the firsts and younger members of the group, singing only in Catalan. In 1968 decides to sing also in Castilian, which makes that most companions criticize him for consider that a kind of treason. Serrat’s case is very curious, because get a position in the middle of being a compromised songwriter and a successful star singer; but that complex situation don’t let him to get lost by success, so he always has known which was his place in the music. Serrat’s music is very gentle and sweet; his words use to be very romantics, but also compromised with his time and reality, making pictures of workers, peasants, lonely people. etc. He also has made songs with poems of Catalan poets as Salvat-Papasseit, and Castilian poets’ as Antonio Machado and Miguel Hernández (all of them, as Catalans as Castilians, forbidden by Franco’s regime). Although he never has made songs which could be considerated as anthems, his personal and political positions made of him a non-grata person for regime, to the point of not to let him back to his country by his critics to the last Franco’s executions. Joan Manuel Serrat keeps recording LPs and making tours, being one of the Spanish songwriters most admired on Latin-America.

Listen this song in this beautiful and very personal youtube video

 La mort de l’avi

No hi ha rialles, sols hi ha plors.
No hi ha cançons, sols hi ha gemecs.
Sembla que tot vagi de dol
en aquest racó mariner.
A la taverna, els pescadors
estan tots muts, no diuen res,
i les comares, a l’església,
preguen per l’avi.
Tothom anirà a l’enterrament,
tothom dirà: "que bo què era!"
Tothom sabrà parlar-ne bé,
potser algú plorarà de pena.
Però no d’amor, perquè, al vell,
d’amor, tan sols li’n van donar
la barca, el vent, els aparells,
la xarxa, el sol i el blau del mar.
Però l’endemà tot ha canviat,
car ningú no pensa en el vell.
Els pescadors són a la mar,
els minyons juguen pel carrer.
Però a la platja, plena ahir,
sols una barca hi ha restat,
amb una xarxa que mai més
no tornarà a besar la mar.
No tornarà a besar la mar,
mai més.

Death of grandfather

There’s no laughters, there is only cryings./ There is no songs, there is only moanings./ It seems everything is in bereaved in this seafaring place.// In the tabern, the fishermen/ are all voiceless, the say nothing,/ and the wives at the church/ are praying for grandfather.// Everybody will go to the burial,/ everybody shall say: "How good he was!"./ Everyone shall know to talk well about him,/ maybe someone shall mourn with grief.// But no with love,/ because, to the old man,/ love was given only by/ the boat, the wind, the gears,/ the net, the sun and the blue of sea.// But in the morning everything is changed,/ no-one thinks of the elder now./ Fishermen are on the sea,/ the kids are playing at the street.// But on the beach, yesterday full,/ just left a boat/ with a net that never more/ shall kiss again the sea./ It won’t kiss the sea,/ never more.

Joan Manuel Serrat

La Nova Cançó Catalana (New Catalan Song) was a very important songwriter movement that pretended, making of Catalan their expression way, preserve and vindicate the language of Catalonia. Teresa Rebull, a Civil War exhiled, was the forerunner, but singer Raimon was the real beginner. The movement, principally, had two differents tendences: Els Setze Jutges (Sixteen Judges), inspired by French songwriters, and El Grup de Folk (Folk Group), North-American folk-singers inspiration. Jutges were more worried about Catalan poetry and refused to use Catalonia’s folklore due to the populist use that the dictatorship was making with every Spanish folklore; but Grup de Folk like to combine old Catalans songs with North-American folk-songs. But in the beginnings of 70s, both were disolved, but the movement stood. New Catalan Song was imitated by others regional songwriters movement, borning in this way the New Songs from Basque Country, Castilia, Galicia, Andalucia… Some of the names of this movements are songwriters as Raimon, Lluís Llach, María del Mar Bonet, Pau Riba, Marina Rossell, Joan Manuel Serrat, Albert Batiste, Pi de la Serra, Ovidi Montllor; folk-groups as Al Tall and UC; folk-rock groups as Falsterbo 3 and Esquirols; and progresive and psychedelic rock bands as Companya Elèctrica Dharma or Maquina!… among others. 

Els Setze Jutges (Sixteen Judges) was a Catalan songwriters collective, founded by Delfí Abella, Miquel Porter and Josep Mª Espinàs, among others, for vindicate language and poetry of the so called Països Catalans (Catalan Countries): the lands, in Spain, Andorra and France, where Catalan is talked, with an antifrancoist spirit. They decided to use French songwriters’ music, specially Georges Brassens, and no Catalan folklore, because the regime was using it for demonstrate his power over all the Spanish lands. Between them, were future important artists as Joan Manuel Serrat, María del Mar Bonet and her brother Joan Ramón, Rafael Subirachs, Guillermina Motta, Francesc Pi de la Serra, and the last in come in, Lluís Llach, and others until complete 16. Songwriter Raimon, in despite the generally believing, was not a part of the collective, but he collaborated with them.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gOtaSmaR on 10 mayo, 2009 at 20:15

    curioso muy bien hasta llegar a intentar traducir justo la canción que el catalán ya no es lo mío…bonito homenaje a serrat y cierto es que estuvo mal mirado en la época franquista..luis llach también es alguien que he seguí bastante en su momento…reconozco que los cantautores aunque no son de mi´música favorita, algunos han tenido gran relevancia en momentos políticos difíciles en la famosa época de transicción en españa donde salir de la tiranía a la que s estaba sometida era complicado y el miedo a expresarse dominaba por lo que aún tiene más valor lo que él ha´cía a través de el medio por el que se llega a más gente..la música…..salud

  2. Posted by Gustavo on 10 mayo, 2009 at 20:33

    Bueno, es la traducción al inglés de las canciones y poemas que he ido recopilando. La traducción al castellano la tengo aquí:http://albokari.spaces.live.com/mmm2009-04-15_11.25/blog/cns!61E9B08CEBCBE7EE!856.entry?_c=BlogPartSuelo poner el enlace, pero esta vez se me pasó.

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