Salsa’s Living Lyrical Legend

salsa musicA couple of Saturdays ago, I went to see Rubén Blades play live. Blades may very well be the greatest salsa music composer still playing today. This is due, in large part, to the fact that he is a healthy salsa musician, far removed from the late night excesses of his contemporaries, many of which have passed away. Blades even served as Minister of Tourism for his native Panama in 2004 and holds a degree in International Law from Harvard University.

His songs rank among the best loved salsa classics in the genre’s history, such as “El Cantante,” “Pedro Navaja,” and “Decisiones.” As such, his lyrics can easily be considered to be some of the most frequently recited poems in the Spanish language.
Blades’s “El Cantante,” or “The Singer,” became Héctor Lavoe‘s emblematic tune. Lavoe was the enfant terrible of salsa in the seventies, who sang like no one before and no body after. Here is a link to Lavoe performing the song. And, below are the song’s lyrics in both Spanish and English.
The Singer
I am the singer
who you’ve come to hear today
the best of my repertory
I will offer you today
I sing to life
to laughter and sorrow
to difficult moments
and to good times
You’ve come to have fun
and paid at the door
there’s no time for sorrow
come on singer begin
I get stopped in the street
and many people tell me
“Hey Héctor you’re made
surrounded by women and parties”
But nobody wonders
if I cry or suffer
if I carry a sorrow
that hurts very deep
I am the Singer
because I know how to sing
and the public pays
to listen to me.
I am the Singer
very popular wherever I go
but when the show is over
I am just another person
And I go on with my life
with laughter and sorrow
with bitter moments
and with good times.
I am the Singer
and my business is to sing
and to those that will listen
I will offer my song
Chorus –
Today I offer you my best songs…
El Cantante
Yo soy el cantante
que hoy han venido a escuchar
lo mejor del repertorio
a ustedes voy a brindarY canto a la vida
de risas y penas
de momentos malos
y de cosas buenas

Vinieron a divertirse
y pagaron en la puerta
no hay tiempo para tristeza
vamos cantante comienza

Me paran siempre en la calle
mucha gente que comenta
¡Oye Hector ah! tu estas hecho
siempre con hembras y en fiestas

Y nadie pregunta
si sufro si lloro
si tengo una pena
que hiere muy hondo.

Yo soy el Cantante
porque lo mío es cantar
y el público paga
para poderme escuchar

Yo soy el cantante
muy popular donde quiera
pero cuando el show se acaba
soy otro humano cualquiera

Y sigo mi vida
con risas y penas
con ratos amargos
y con cosas buenas

Yo soy el cantante
y mi negocio es cantar
y a los que me siguen
mi canción voy a brindar

Hoy te dedico mis mejores pregones…



This post was originally published in Zeteo Journal.

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