“Si vas ó convento de Herbón”, a traditional Galician folksong, sung by Benedicto

Benedicto_Pola_unión_PortadaAfter Raimon’s recital in Santiago de Compostela, in 1968, a group of Galician songwriters decided to found a collective, similar to Catalan “Setze Jutges” (Cat. “Sixteen Judges”), where there could sing in Galician and promote their language, literature and culture through the song, also their critics to the Francoist regime: it was Voces Ceibes (Gal. “Free Voices”), and its two principal founders where Xavier González del Valle and, of course, Benedicto García. Their precepts where too strict: besides the language, the renounce to make “commercial music”, as pop, or any kind of folk music or folklore, cause Francoist regime had manipulated all the Spanish folklore as an instrument of political and commercial national propaganda.

57At the beginnigs of the 70s decade, Voces Ceibes broke up, and every one of its member goes for his way. Benedicto, amazed by great Portuguese songwriter José Afonso, decides to go to Portugal and meet him. Afonso and Benedicto became in friends, and work together in several recitals and in the recording of José Afonso’s album Eu vou ser com a toupeira (1972), till 1974 (a little before the Portuguese revolution). Benedicto learnt a lot of things from José Afonso: between them, that traditional songs can be used for critical songs, and many times are so much usefull, because are songs that people know so well. So, Benedicto begun to use those traditional tunes in his concerts, and so, when he recorded his first LP Pola unión (1977), he recorded this beautiful Galician traditional song, with the help of his wife, Mayte, as duo:

Si vas ó convento de Herbón

Si vas ó convento de Herbón
vira polo direito,
vera-lo San Benitiño
botando auga polo peito.

Miña nai e maila túa
quedan no río berrando
por culpa dunha galiña
que tiña amores cun galo.

Unha perna téñoche eiquí,
outra no teu tellado;
mira se te quero nena
que estou escarranchado.

If you go to the convent of Herbón

If you go to the convent of Herbón/ look at your right,/ you shall see dear Saint Benedict/ pouring water on his breast.// My mother and yours/ stay in the river shouting/ because of a hen/ that is in love with a rooster.// One leg I have here for you,/ the other upon your roof;/ Realize how much I love you baby,/ I’m spread-eagled.


Spanish translation:


A NOTE ABOUT THE SONG: Convent of Herbón is in Padrón, province of A Coruña. At July, 11, day of St. Benedict of Nursia, the neighbours go in pilgrimage to commemorate that day. It’s very curious that Benedicto sung this song about the day of the Saint whose, in English (in Spanish and Galician the name is “San Benito”) and as a derivation from Latin, is his too.

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