Tag Archives: Prince




If you dig the mix then please feel free to pass & post it along; if you dig The Artist then please support him and go out and pick up some of his stuff. 

[link in comments]

“Albums — remember those? Albums still matter. Albums, like books and black lives, still matter.”

—  –   ————-______________ O(+>

the beautiful one cvr

 —  –   ————-______________O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>
—————–================__^__=O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>_O(+>  _ ===== == =   = =  __  _
  • For You – [from For You] [1978]
  • The Beautiful Ones – [from Purple Rain] [1984]
  • The Question Of U – [from Graffiti Bridge] [1990]
  • Erotic City – [ B-side to the 1984 single “Let’s Go Crazy” released on Girl 6] [1996]
  • New Position/I Wonder U/Under The Cherry Moon – [from Parade] [1986]
  • 3121/D.M.S.R. [Live] – [from Indigo Nights] [London 2007]
  • Joint 2 Joint – [from Emancipation] [1996]
  • The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker – [from Sign O’ The Times] [1987]
  • Papa – [from Come] [1994]
  • Segue – [from Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic] [1999]
  • Count The Days – [from Exodus [1995] by The New Power Generation released on Girl 6 ][1996]
  • Dark – [from Come] [1994]
  • The Work Pt.1 – [from The Rainbow Children] [2001]
  • Colonized Mind – [from LOtUSFLOW3R] [2009]
  • The Marrying Kind/If Eye Was The Man In Ur Life/On The Couch – [from Musicology] [2004]
  • An Honest Man – [Parade outtake recorded in 1985, released on Crystal Ball] [1998]
  • Adore – [from Sign O’ The Times]

Hello All! Those that know me know that there were three living artists that mean the world to me: David Bowie, Prince, and Bob Dylan. Thus far 2016 is turning out to be a rough year.

I’ve been hesitating to post the following; despite Prince’s sudden and shocking death I remain terrified that the purple stiletto heel of his legal department will come down on my blog and shut it down (which is why I so rarely post Prince tunes).  However, I wanted to share something to help celebrate a man whose entire artistic output was truly a celebration of the creative act and of life itself.

Only an artist as audacious and idiosyncratic as Prince could so seductively urge you to disregard all falsely imposed limits, to feel how you honestly feel, love how you honestly love, and “get off until you make the house shake/Shake your body ’til your neighbors stare at cha!” As Tom Hawking poignantly put it, “Prince was the opposite of death.” Prince’s music was alive; while deceit, instituted distortions of identities, and apathetic hearts are all only spiritual death.

As he sings on the 2001 LP The Rainbow Children (which despite its less than enthusiastic reception by critics has long been one of my favorites for its dynamic experimentation with jazz and its hallowed, optimistic view of the human race):

Every time I watch “The Other People News”
I c a false picture of myself, another one of u
They try 2 tell us what we want, what 2 believe
Didn’t that happen in the Garden
When somebody spoke 2 Eve?

And then Prince declares in his confident and funky falsetto:

But I’m willing 2 do The Work!

And how could he not follow with the obvious question:

Tell me now – what about u?

A great deal of this work for him, of course, was his music.

Although it seemed like an impossible task–as this tribute mixtape here is but a handful of my favorite tracks throughout the years by this genius–I do hope you enjoy the hell out of it and that it illustrates a bit of what I’m talking about. As Prince himself said at a phenomenal 2 & 1/2+ hour concert I attended: “so many hits, so little time.”


The man was one of a kind. To me his music and personality was so singular, yet of a universal soul. As he says in “For You,” his work was created “with love, sincerity and deepest care.”

Prince also had such a wonderful sense of humor and a whimsical flavor. That is the resource behind much of his albums like the (unreleased) The Black Album and lines sung in such splendid melodies like “Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with/I just want your extra time and your…Kiss” or when he pleads to his woman not to leave him to sleep on the couch with, “Its so undignified to sleep alone/Oh yes it is/That’s what all the people Ain’t got nobody do.”

Only Prince could come up with a song as odd, tender, and earnest as “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker” where the lessons learned by the act of listening to Joni Mitchell while taking a bubble bath with a stranger (during which he insists that he keep his pants on in the tub as he’s “kind of going with someone”) can help improve his sour mood when he has to return to “a violent room” where he was “fightin’ with lovers past.” With its peculiar narrative I hold that tune to be amongst the sweetest and most genuine ever created, and so I paste the lyrics below so that you may read along when the mix spins that up:

Dorothy was a waitress on the promenade
She worked the night shift
Dishwater blonde, tall and fine
She got a lot of tips

Well, earlier I’d been talkin’ stuff in a violent room
Fightin’ with lover’s past
I needed someone with a quicker wit than mine
Dorothy was fast

Well, I ordered – “Yeah, let me get a fruit cocktail, I ain’t to hungry”
Dorothy laughed
She said – “It sound like a real man to me (you’re kinda cute)
You’re kinda cute, you wanna take a bath?” (Do you wanna, do you wanna?) … Bath?

Oh, I said – “Cool, but I’m leavin’ my pants on (What you say?)
Cuz I’m kinda goin’ with someone”
She said – “Sound like a real man to me
Mind if I turn on the radio?”

“Oh, my favorite song,” she said
And it was Joni singing, “Help me, I think I’m falling”
(Drring) The phone rang and she said
“Whoever’s calling can’t be as cute as you”
Right then and there I knew I was through (Dorothy Parker was cool)


My pants were wet, they came off
But she didn’t see the movie cuz she hadn’t read the book first

Instead she pretended she was blind
An affliction brought on by a witch’s curse
Dorothy made me laugh (ha ha, ha ha)
I felt much better so I went back to the violent room
(Tell us what you did, what you did) Let me tell you what I did

I took another bubble bath with my pants on
All the fighting stopped
Next time I’ll do it sooner
This is the ballad of Dorothy Parker
(Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker)
Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker

Only Prince could create something as painfully sincere, weird, traumatic and yet somehow still so funky as “Papa,” where a cruel father crucifies all the dandelions before he beats on his four year old child, points a shotgun up in the sky and screams in anguish “How come I don’t love my woman?”…but then Prince warns: “Don’t abuse children, or else they turn out like me.”

And then here he reminds you what his music has always been about–the joy to be had in life–by concluding that song with uptempo fuzzfunk and:

Fair 2 partly crazy, deep down we’re all the same
Every single 1 of us knows some kind of pain
In the middle of all that’s crazy, this 1 fact still remains
If u love somebody, your life won’t be in vain
And there’s always a rainbow, at the end of every rain!

Prince was certainly enigmatic but he would always look you directly in the eye. He boldly declared to hell with all your labels with the words: I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand/I’m not your lover. I’m not your friend. I am something that you’ll never comprehend. 

In both subject matter and composition, no one wrote songs quite like Prince! I really believe that Prince was the most proficient musician of our lifetime, but no matter what style (and he flirted with and mutated them all) he always exercised a true economy to his songs: every note or absence served a purpose. Although he could likely school anyone on guitar, chief among his instruments in my opinion was the voice, which I think this mix illustrates well with the gorgeous and just stunning vocal interplay to be heard in tracks like “Dark,” “Count the Days,” “Adore,” and the glorious “The Beautiful Ones.” (He opened the show I attended with this last number, as the phenomenal Misty Copeland performed a ballet atop his purple piano!)

There was such an extraordinary amount of talent packed into his 5ft 2in frame. As he says with self-deprecation in the funky and funny monologue “Bob George” (a song I had so hoped to squeeze into this mix) Prince was “that skinny motherfucker with the high voice.” Yet, let’s face it this little weirdo in purple was one sexy motherfucker as well!

Prince had plenty of confidence and little hang-ups. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about listening to his music, he was telling you that there was a true spirituality to celebrating this thing called life with “dance, music, sex, romance” or “D.M.S.R.” His former tour manager Alan Leeds was recently quoted as saying “For him the love of God and the sexual urges we feel are one and the same somehow. For him it all comes from the same root inside a human being. God planted these urges and it’s never wrong to feel that way. The urge itself is a holy urge.”

Or as Touré (author of I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon) put it: “[…] for him there was no need to separate the things we do on Saturday night from the things we do on Sunday morning.”

Plato said: Eros leads to Gnosis. As I recently read on the website, plotinus, Eros should be seen as:

[…] a liberating agent who releases and activates the creative process of the mind. Eros inspires and opens the channel of intuition to the higher and abstract understanding and communion with beauty and truth. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes in detail the inner process of transformation. In fact, Eros cannot be separated from his beloved Psyche, since they are united by a secret and sacred bond, invisible and unconscious in man. In fact, man’s psyche remains filled with erotic, sensual, carnal desires that keep him and his mind trapped on the physical plane along with his emotions and consciousness. But a seeker must transmute the attraction of Eros and awaken the bond with his psyche so that he can rise towards the “beloved,” the invisible golden thread that links his consciousness to the universal qualities of beauty and love.

The gifts of Eros affect the emotional and thought processes of humanity, especially those of a seeker who has to learn how to open up and integrate these gifts in his psyche. From the lowest and most physical levels of consciousness to the most spiritual ones, Eros remains forever present, gradually transforming the inner fire into pure light. Eros operates in every living creature, and Greek poetry and philosophy describe how nature partakes of the gift of Eros. Hence we could say that Eros’ contribution to humanity is not only inherent in man’s psyche, but that it is also involved in the process that awakens the ego to its true nature, the beauty and unconditional love of the soul.

Eros implies a yearning for unity, harmony, and completion.

illustration by Ulla Pugaard

Yes, most of Prince’s work was concerned with sex, but then again most of it was concerned with spirituality as well. These seem to be things he had no trouble reconciling. Yes, by others’ standards and ethics he was vulgar. Remember it was Prince’s music (“Darling Nikki” and its reference to female masturbation in particular) that was used by Mary “Tipper” Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) as an example of unsuitable content when pushing for the use of a Parental Advisory label for recorded music.  However, with Prince the erotic might be visceral, explicit, but it was rarely truly crude or misogynist. When it came to women (and God) he was always seeking to find “the answer to the question of u.” He adored and respected women and felt a sense of wonder in their presence. Particularly Prince respected women as artists and for their intelligence. He respected and acknowledged female sexuality. Prince wanted to make love with them; Prince wanted to fuck them. Like he says to the woman in question in the eight minute epic “Joint 2 Joint”: “You’re making me proud to be a human being.”

That is not negated by his lustful follow through and the come-on:

And if we’re ever naked in the same machine/I’m gonna lick it, baby, joint 2 joint

Porochista Khakpour just published an eloquent essay for the Village Voice concerning Prince’s relation to women in which she writes:

These weren’t women as I saw them all over that era’s hair metal or even hip-hop — accessories in the forms of dates or flings, burdens ranging from fiancée to divorcée. What I saw was Prince seeing women as collaborators, co-workers; they were essential in art and life, and creators in every sense of the word.


These women were not arm candy. They weren’t draped over him; they weren’t flanking him like magician’s girls. If anything, Prince was the sex object, the candy. The women were something else […].



Above all, what I love about listening to his work is that yes he wanted you to believe he is a sexy motherfucker, but I think he wanted you the listener–no matter what or who you are–to fully appreciate that yeah you’re a sexy motherfucker too!

Can I talk to you?
Tell you what you mean to me
Every time you wander
I’ll be your eyes so you can see
I wanna show you things
That I never showed no other, I wanna be
More than your mother
More than your brother
I wanna be like no other
If you need me, I’ll never leave
I know, that you know, without you there is no me
There is no me
Without you there is no sea
There is no shore

Love is too weak to define how much I adore
The last words you hear

Be with me darlin’ til the end of all time
I’ll give you my heart
I’ll give you my mind
I’ll give you my body
I’ll give you my time
For all time I am with you

You are with me?


____________________BOBBY CALERO_______________


Hello All,

And the A Mouthful Of Pennies Consortium’s Summer Blow-Out Wholesale Bootleg MixTape Distribution continues! Everything Must Go!

The last MixTape—THE MYTH OF A ROOM—might have been a little too high-falutin’ for some; so, today I present a good ol’ fashion slap-dash quick one for sitting under the afternoon sun with friends and perhaps breaking into a sing-along or two. Sloppy at points and reminding me of a MixTape I might’ve made 10-15 years back (like on an actual tapedeck), this one should be a breeze to roll along to and comes with its own custom-built comedown! …(and another bootleg, grandma with a computer cover art.)

Oh, and don’t forget to checkout some other dope MixTapes posted up in these pages: Longevity Has its Place ; El Ambiente Bien Babes Y Bean de Uruguay: Volume 1Broken Tail-Feathers; The Two Cent Spit; Babylon Bye Bye; and the Nas birthday tribute, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones is Like…


—Enjoy yourself!

Sudden Dogs




by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

(another bootleg, grandma with a computer) album cover by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero, w/ the participation of Moose (L.) & Patti (R.))

Loco MosquitoIggy Pop (’80)

You Keep Me Hanging On [snippet] – Vanilla Fudge (’67)

Hateful The Clash (’79)

Rock & Roll/SympathyJane’s Addiction (live at the Roxy Theatre 1/26/’87)

Once Was A Time I Thought The Mamas & the Papas (’66)

LaydownPrince (’10)

The World Has Turned and Left Me HereWeezer (’94)

Police & ThievesThe Clash (’77)

You’re Crazy (Lies version) – Guns N’ Roses (’89)

Mother Mary (Daytrotter Session version) – Far (’10)

Don’t Push (acoustic) – Bradley Nowell (’92)

Don’t Push/54-46 That’s My Number/Ball And ChainSublime (’92)

Still FameDavid Bowie, James Brown, Dr. Dre, & Snoop Dogg (Pastamasta mash)

It Ain’t Hard To Tell Tom’s DinerSuzanne Vega & Nas (Danger Mouse remix) (’03)

Gunz On My Side/2 Glocks2Pac, Busta Rhymes, Bounty Killa, & Wayne Marshall (DJ Vlad/Dirty Harry/DJ Green Lantern remix) (’03)

The Story of Fela (Open & Close)Fela Kuti (J.Period remix) (’09)

I’ve Been to the MountaintopDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (4/3/’68)

Tears Of A Samurai/I Shall Be ReleasedThe RZA/Elvis Presley (’07/’71)

—————(BOBBY CALERO)—————


Hello All,

. . . and the A Mouthful Of Pennies Consortium’s Summer Blow-Out Wholesale Bootleg MixTape Distribution continues!

The last two MixTapes posted—Broken Tail-Feathers, and The Two Cent Spit—were a bit of a rump shaker and sweat maker, but today’s feature is a bit of something other for you all to dig, something to tune-in and zone-out to. A sort of soundscape stew particularly recommended for all you creative types out there, A Mouthful of Pennies Presents: THE MYTH OF A ROOM (vol. 1).

Oh, and don’t forget to checkout some other dope MixTapes posted up in these pages: Longevity Has its Place ; El Ambiente Bien Babes Y Bean de Uruguay: Volume 1 ; Babylon Bye Bye; and the Nas birthday tribute, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones is Like…

—Enjoy yourself!

The Myth of A Room



by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

Cover art by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

Sliced-up, taped-up, slipped in, layered on, and smooshed, with some chunky bits left there to simmer, bits and pieces of all of this and then some is in there somewhere:

Brownsea Island—Waves Lapping Along the ShoreNational Trust


Lucifer Rising Part IIIBobby Beausoleil

Can It All Be So SimpleEl Michels Affair

Ode To O-Ren IshiiThe RZA

Off Or Out – Elysian Fields

Terrifying [Starlight & Wonder Version]Pop Levi

Waiting For PreyDamaged Tape

Nightmare-Lust (Raga Chandrakauns)Ravi Shankar & George Harrison (Shankar Family & Friends)

Fiesta-La (The Heatwave Refix)The Fugees

Mk 2Radiohead

LullabyMartina Topley-Bird


Bombay Talkie [Title Music]Shankar Jaikishan

BathtubThe MDH Band (Brian Blade, Greg Cohen, Adam Dorn, Brian Eno, Bill Frisell, Jon Hassell, Daniel Lanois, Brad Mehldau)

Black BalloonBeck

Humoresque #4 Edvard Grieg

Baal’s HymnDavid Bowie

There Is a MountainRene Bloch & the Afro Blues Quintet

Woodpigeon SongBlur

Dance GhostHelado Negro

Incarcerated ScarfacesEl Michels Affair

Mystic BrewRonnie Foster


Lucifer Rising Part IVBobby Beausoleil

Modern MusicBlack Mountain

BloodlessBeck and Cornelius

Dream—Festivity & JoyRavi Shankar & George Harrison (Shankar Family & Friends)

Typewriter Tip TipShankar Jaikishan

Key ChainPop Levi

Window (Jon Brion mix)Fiona Apple

Black DogDeodato

Blickling Hall—Clocks Ticking & ChimingNational Trust

Burning SpearSoulful Strings

Twenty-Six TemptationsDeVotchKa

DaredevilFiona Apple

And Relax! The Cinematic Orchestra

Loss Adjuster (Excerpt, Pt. 2)Jarvis Cocker


Step In The Name Of LoveR. Kelly

I Must Be ThereRotary Connection

OhStone Mecca


Within You, Without YouSoulful Strings

Fry BreadBrightblack Morning Light

—————(BOBBY CALERO)—————


Hello all. Lately I can’t seem to peel myself away from some other projects I’ve got going so I’ve got to hold off a little longer on posting up part 2 to my mix, EL AMBIENTE BIEN BABES Y BEAN DE URUGUAY. But, I’ll be posting some other MixTapes for you to bump through this fading summer, and I’ve got something else here for you today!

For those looking to strut their feathers while throwing a house party, a little backyard boogie, or, to quote Redman, interested in “straight up getting your swerve on whether with a bitch or nigga,” here is two hours, thirteen minutes and twelve seconds of music designed to make you groove and boogaloo ’till you pukethe two-volume bootleg MixTape: BROKEN TAIL-FEATHERS.

—Enjoy yourself!

Broken Tail-Feathers Vol. I



If you download it, the playlist is listed under the “Lyrics” tab in itunes.


———————- — – – – – – — –    –    – –

Broken Tail-Feathers Vol. 2



If you download it, the playlist is listed under the “Lyrics” tab in itunes.


—————- – – – —– — — — – – – –       —– – – —- — –       –     –   –

Broken Tail-Feathers Vol. I


by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

cover art by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

1)   “This is a journey into sound…”

2)   Body Baby – Pharoahe Monch

3)   Working Day & Night/P.Y.T./Wanna Be Startin Somethin – Michael Jackson (J.Period remix)

4)   B.I.G. Freestyle/Kane Freestyle – The Notorious B.I.G/Big Daddy Kane (J.Period remix)

5)   Amen, Brother [break] – G. C. Coleman

6)   Dracula’s Wedding – André 3000 (Feat. Kelis)

7)   Let’s Dance/Dancing Machine – Michael Jackson (J.Period remix)

8)   Ain’t No Fun – Snoop Dogg (feat. Nate Dogg, Warren G., Nanci Fletcher, and Kurupt)

9)   Gett Off – Prince

10)         Panic So Charming (What the Fuck Style) – J.U.F. (Gogol Bordello & Balkan Beat Box)

11)         Bulgarian Chicks – Balkan Beat Box

12)         Cocaine Blues – Escort

13)         Amen, Brother [break] – G. C. Coleman

14)         Lift Ya Skirt – Ol’ Dirty Bastard

15)         Vivrant Thing/Move/Breathe & Stop – Q-Tip (J.Period Remix)

16)         The loop of ’88 [break] – Simon Harris

17)         I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown) – 2 Live Crew

18)         You Don’t Love Me (No No No) – Dawn Penn

19)         Get Ur Freak On [break] – Missy Elliott & Timbaland

20)         Shanty Town – Desmond Dekker (Diplo remix)

21)         Guns of Brooklyn – Santogold (Diplo remix)

22)         Iko Iko – The Dixie Cups (Diplo remix)

23)         Catembe [break] – Miles Davis

24)         Flava In Ya Ear (March 9 Remix) – The Notorious B.I.G (J.Period Remix)

 ——————————————————– — — — –   –     –    –

Broken Tail-Feathers Vol. 2


by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

Cover art by A Mouthful Of Pennies (Bobby Calero)

1)    “This is a journey into sound…”

2)    Make Some Noise – Beastie Boys

3)    Platinum Plus – Big L & Big Daddy Kane (J. Perdiod remix)

4)    Across The Sea Piano Noodles [snippet] – Weezer

5)    —Run-D.M.C Break—

6)    Big Belly Guns – Tony Matterhorn (Diplo remix)

7)    Get Busy – Sean Paul

8)    A Who Seh Ne Dun (Wake de Man)/Limb By Limb – Cutty Ranks

9)    Teach Me How To Bunny [Instrumental snippet] – Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday

10)  Murder She Wrote – Chaka Demus & Pliers

11)  If I Were A Rich Girl – Louchie Lou & Michie One

12) Fiesta-La – The Fugees (The Heatwave Refix)

13) Freaks – Lil’ Vicious & Doug E. Fresh

14) Action – Nadine Sutherland & Terror Fabulous

15) Tour Mix Part1 – Capleton (Grubson Mix)

16) As I Come Back – Busta Rhymes (Grubson Mix)

17)  Black Sweat – Prince

18)  Let’s Get High – Dr. Dre (feat. Hittman, Kurupt, & Ms. Roq)

19) Bump ‘n’ Grind (R. Kelly cover) – Beck

20) Ignition (Remix) – R. Kelly

21) Funky Drummer [break] – James Brown

22) Life ‘O’ the Party – Prince

23) In the Closet – Michael Jackson (J.Period remix)

24)  Ghetto Musick – Big Boi (feat. Andre 3000)

25)  Over Me – Tricky (feat. Ambersunshower & Hawkman)

26) Welcome To Jamrock – Damian Marley (Rob Dinero Remix Feat. The Notorious B.I.G.)

——————————— —– —–

———– —– ——– – – – – -roll call roster— — —— – – –

Pharoahe Monch

Michael Jackson

The Notorious B.I.G.

Big Daddy Kane

J. Period

G. C. Coleman (w/ The Winstons).

André 3000


Snoop Dogg

Nate Dogg

Warren G.

Nanci Fletcher



Gogol Bordello

Balkan Beat Box


Ol’ Dirty Bastard


Simon Harris

2 Live Crew

Dawn Penn

Missy Elliott & Timbaland



Desmond Dekker


The Dixie Cups

Miles Davis (Poster designed by Roslaw Szaybo, 1989).

Beastie Boys

Big L.



Tony Matterhorn

Sean Paul

Cutty Ranks

Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday

Chaka Demus & Pliers

Louchie Lou & Michie One

The Fugees

Lil’ Vicious

Doug E. Fresh

Terror Fabulous

Nadine Sutherland



Busta Rhymes

Dr. Dre


Ms. Roq


R. Kelly

James Brown

Big Boi




Damian Marley

DJ Rob Dinero


———– – — —- —- –    –     –      —    —    – –     –

All the best to you and yours,

—————(BOBBY CALERO)————— —- — — – – – –  – –   – —   –    –


Hello all, what follows is Volume 1 of two very special mixes I made upon returning from the motherland: Uruguay. Truly, this was the best trip I’ve ever been on. Along with a little bit of background and history, here I try to capture the atmosphere and sentiment of me and my wife’s experiences through the sounds we listened to while there, as well as with what I was inspired to dig up and look into upon our return. By no means am I trying to bore anyone with vacation photos, nor is this a fully detailed account of any of the artists featured on the mix; for that matter, nor is this a thorough history of that wonderful little country nestled between the massive Brazil and Argentina, settled on the banks of a river as wide as a sea. It is, however, an attempt to communicate a certain vibration. Feel free to just press-play, sink in, and enjoy yourself.


Bobby Calero

P.S. I did the majority of the translations here, so don’t hesitate to chime in if you have a better suggestion, as knowing two languages is more automatic while translation itself is a slippery art form. Likewise, feel free to offer any information or corrections you might have on any of the various topics addressed here. Remember, in this (somewhat) instant field of self-publishing on a blog , there are no editors or proofreaders to rely on. —Enjoy!

[Note: This two-volume mix is best enjoyed when under the sun, so be sure to break it out a few times over the course of the summer!]


ambiente volume 1


——————————-(Click to Listen or Right-Click-Save-As to Download)—————–================__^__===================  ===  _ ===== == =   = =  __  _


El Ambiente Bien Babes Y Bean de Uruguay: Volume 1

1) Let’s Go Away For Awhile – The Beach Boys (1966)

2) Sun King – The Beatles (1969)

3) Para Hacer Musica, Para Hacer – Miguel Y El Comité (1971)

4) Esa Tristeza – El Kinto (1968)

5)  No Puede Ser – Los Campos  (1972)

6)  Hermano Americano – Montevideo Blues (1972)

7) And I Love Her – La Fragua (2001)] [Snippet]

8) Valentine Day – Paul McCartney (1970)

9) Jacinta – Eduardo Mateo (1972)

10) Fields Of Joy – Lenny Kravitz (1991)

11) La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar/Mi Tía Clementina – Los Shakers (1968)

12) African Bird – Opa (1976)

13) Barnyard/Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine – Brian Wilson (2004)

14) Principe Azul – El Kinto (1968)

15) Fly – Nick Drake (1970)

17) Hombre – Eduardo Mateo &Verónica Indart (1969)

18) Norwegian Wood (Baguala) – La Fragua (2001)

19) 4th Time Around – Bob Dylan (1966)

20) Zamba De Mi Esperanza – Jorge Cafrune & Los Chalchaleros (1964/2000)

21) Gioco di Bimba – Le Orme (1972)

22) Siempre Caminar – Limonada (1970) [Snippet]

23) Luna de Margarita – Simón Díaz (1966)


A MixTape by A Mouthful of Pennies (Bobby Calero).

Cover art and all personal photos by Keri Kroboth.





Babes & Bean (1/29/13)

Babes & Bean (1/29/13)

[1)   Let’s Go Away for AwhileThe Beach Boys (1966)]

[…] something everyone in the world must have said at some time or another. Nice thought; most of us don’t go away, but it’s still a nice thought.”

—Brian Wilson (Linett, 2001).

One stunning facet from the warm gem that is The Beach Boys’ masterpiece Pet Sounds. It is physically impossible to be nervous about flying when wrapped in this sound.

Brian Wilson at the San Diego Zoo, February 15th, 1966. (Photo by George Jerman).

Composed and produced by Brian Wilson and given life by the finest musicians of The Wrecking Crew, with this tune the warts and worries of whole world can simply soften into a realm of tranquil sound. For some reason or another, this song always brings to my mind the Jim Carroll poem, Fragment: Little N.Y. Ode, from his 1973 collection, Living at the Movies. This work too comes across as a satisfied sigh:

Jim Carroll, June 22nd, 1979 (Photo by Michael Zagaris)

I sleep on a tar roof.

        scream my songs

                          into lazy floods of stars…

a white powder paddles through blood and heart


the sounds return

                                      pure and easy…

Ah, this city is on my side.


Punta del Diablo

Punta del Diablo

[2)   Sun KingThe Beatles (1969)]

August 22, 1969, one month after recording “Sun King.” (photo by Ethan Russell and Monte Fresco).

Having received The Beatles Box Set as a Christmas gift from my wife, I flew to Uruguay with my brain fully saturated in what is truly some of the greatest music ever recorded. Here, sun-kissed and brylcreemed, we have one of John Lennon’s contributions to “the Long Medley” that concludes The Beatles’ final masterpiece, Abbey Road. It all feels so free and easy; its emphasis on breath and the simple pleasure that exists in the soft spaces in between perfectly captures a languid day in the seaside village of Punta del Diablo, located 185 miles east from the capital, Montevideo, and just under 27 miles from the Brazilian border.

Punta del Diablo

Punta del Diablo

Here on this mix I conclude the track with a jumble edit of Beatles’ scraps and others to break and segue…


Entering a conceptual room by Uruguayan artist Luis Camnitzer (born 1937), on display at the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales in In Parque Rodó, Montevideo. Here every object that would appear within the room, such as the rug, the curtains, and even the branches of a tree one would see outside a window are all plainly labeled within the empty room for you to fill in. Silly, simple, and great, I think.

Entering a conceptual room by Uruguayan artist Luis Camnitzer (born 1937), on display at the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales in Parque Rodó, Montevideo. Here every object that would appear within the room, such as the rug, the curtains, and even the branches of a tree one would see outside a window are all plainly labeled within the empty room for you to fill in. Silly, simple, and great, I think.

A would-be Librarian in front of a conceptual bookcase

A  Librarian in front of a conceptual bookcase

[3)   Para Hacer Musica, Para HacerMiguel Y El Comite (1971)]

In 1969-1970, Miguel Livichich made his fame in Uruguay and throughout the rest of South America with the group El Sindykato (The Syndicate). However, by mid ’71, due to “differences” (primarily financial) Livichich left the group to quickly form another whose name held a certain allusion to the band he abandoned: El Comité (The Committee). Approaching the band Feeling Rock he made it immediately clear that he intended to be the leader:

“I told them, I want a band to join me, but we all work together […]

Accept, and we make a titanic effort. An aggressive launch. I do not

lie, in fifteen days we were recording the LP. It was pin, pin and we

were playing at all the dances. It was amazing working with Miguel

Y El Comité” (Lion Productions, 2011).

This new group consisted of Washington Pachetto on drums and percussion, dual guitars handled by Bengochea Piece and Jose Maria Sanguinetti, Gustavo Luján on bass, and Miguel Livichich himself as principal songwriter, lead vocalist, on guitar, and responsible for the congas—an essential element to the candombe beat (the traditional musical style of rhythm idiosyncratic to the Uruguayan region) which Miguel Y El Comité helped pioneer the fusion of with swinging pop and rock music fuzz. As with so many groups of this era, financial hardship, frustrated ambitions, and political persecution by a military dictatorship helped scatter and silence the band.

However, here is the opening track off their 1971 debut, in which they cut through the illusory fat of image and fads and declare what is and what is not necessary “to create music, to create…” (By the way, to my ears this stuff sounds like just about the best groove music that The Beastie Boys never got to lovingly crib).

You don’t have to go around in weird clothes

You don’t have to have Che’s books

You don’t have to have hair, or a beard

Nor smoke Ambientex

…To Create Music…

You must know an inverted chord

You must listen to a little John Sebastian

Do not sing in gringo, they don’t understand you

No matter how much you shout, shout, shout…

…To Create Music…To Create…

You don’t have to have thousand-dollar equipment

It’s your soul that must sound

What good is an imported guitar

If you don’t know what it is to tune it?

…To Create Music…To Create…

…To Create Music…To Create…


The corner of Cerro Largo and Ciudadela in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood of Montevideo.

The corner of Cerro Largo and Ciudadela in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood of Montevideo.


[4)   Esa Tristeza – El Kinto (1968)]

Here we have one of the finest songs by one of the finest groups this world has ever known. While, as exceptional as they were, a band like Los Shakers may have received a reputation as “the Uruguayan Beatles,” this was due to their adoption and adhesion to an Anglo style. Meanwhile, it is El Kinto that truly deserves that moniker for their spirit of innovation and reinvention. As early as 1966, while most groups sang in English, they were insistent upon composing songs in their native castellano rioplatense Spanish (the variant dialect spoken mainly in the areas in and around the Río de la Plata basin of Argentina and Uruguay) and El Kinto were the first group to integrate Uruguay’s native music of candombe with psicodelic rock, pop, and bossa nova.

Economic yet strange in style, El Kinto consisted of two primary composers: percussionist and vocalist Rubén Rada (perhaps Uruguay’s most celebrated musician), and brilliant guitarist and vocalist Eduardo Mateo (perhaps Uruguay’s most celebrated iconoclastic madman). Despite some personnel changes the group featured the amazing talents of Walter Cambón on lead guitar, Urbano Moraes on bass and vocals, and Luis Sosa on drums. By 1969, after Rada and Moraes amicably left the group to pursue other opportunities they were replaced by virtuoso percussionist Mario “Chichito” Cabral and bassist Alfredo Vita. When the group completely disintegrated by the early part of 1970, despite being celebrated by the Uruguayan counterculture as a musical phenomenon, El Kinto had never actually recorded an album or even released a single other than as the backing musicians for a few pop acts. Oddly enough, all existing recordings of this group were quickly done so to play behind the group as they mimed a performance on the live, music television show Discodromo. Luckily, each appearance on the program allowed another opportunity to record, and so we have the roughly twenty tracks associated with the group today.

Esa Tristeza” (That Sadness), a Eduardo Mateo composition sung by him and recorded in June of 1968, features such a peculiar, fluid shuffle that lilts along with some of the most poetically haunting lyrics I’ve ever heard:

That Sadness

That sadness that you have

Comes from a tired face

Comes from open hands

From hands that have escaped

From hands that have escaped

That sadness that hangs

Where your hair ends

Comes from a sea that has dried-up

While you dreamt desires

While you dreamt desires

You Think, You Go On And Think

I know very well what you have

There is in your life a past

Dust that the wind does not carry

Are your bad memories

Are your bad memories

You Think, You Go On And Think


Somewhere along the street Sarandí in Ciudad Vieja.

Somewhere along the street Sarandí in Ciudad Vieja.


My wife and I with several generations of my Facal family

My wife and I with several generations of my Facal family (Tio Julio, R.I.P.).


[5)   No Puede SerLos Campos  (1972)]

Los CamposNaturaleza Viva (1972).

This lovely, harmony-driven slice of psyche-pop is the opening track to Los Campos’ (The Fields) second (and, unfortunately, last) LP: Naturaleza Viva. I believe the album’s title is supposed to be a play on words, but attempting to translate it hurts my head. Essentially, it is the opposite of a “still life,” as in a painting. The musicians (Julio César Arostegui on lead vocals and organ, Juan Gadea on lead guitar, Enrique Machado on rhythm guitar, Gustavo Musto on bass, and Pedro Robaina on drums) come together to create a seamless groove that is made all the more buoyant by the charming chant of the female vocal choir (Mariela Avellanal, Rosario Berro, Alicia Dandreis, and Silvia Richi).

The whirling tone of the Gadea composed “No Puede Ser” (It Cannot Be) works nicely against the distressed sentiment of the song—one likely shared by many South Americans (particularly artists and intellectuals) living under the austere depravity of a military dictatorship, where expatriation seemed to be the only viable solution to poverty, prison, or even death:

“No! I don’t want to go. I want to sing, in my country. It Cannot Be!”

            Los Campos were rather successful, touring the whole interior of the country throughout 1972 with the full band, choir, light machines, and projectors (Peláez, 2004)—all culminating in a large year-end concert accompanied by a twenty-piece orchestra at Teatro Solis, Montevideo’s opera house (built in 1856 it is also Uruguay’s oldest theater).

El Teatro Solis sandwiched between two newer structures.

El Teatro Solis sandwiched between two newer structures.

The entrance steps to Teatro Solis

The entrance steps to  Teatro Solis

In late 1973, however, in a story that is sadly repeated over and over with these bands, unable to sustain a career at home Los Campos traveled to Europe to perform in Spain, France, and Switzerland, but soon broke up in 1974.


The House of Remote Control, located somewhere in the Centro neighborhood of Montevideo

The House of Remote Control, located somewhere in the Centro neighborhood of Montevideo

One of the pieces up for the DOGMA group show—featuring artists Javier Abreu, Julia Castagno, and Ernesto Rizzo—on display at the more subversive Subte museum, located underground, underneath the Plaza del Entrevero, on18 de Julio Ave, Montevideo.

One of the pieces up for the DOGMA group show—featuring artists Javier Abreu, Julia Castagno, and Ernesto Rizzo—on display at the more subversive Subte museum, located underground, underneath the Plaza del Entrevero, on 18 de Julio Ave, Montevideo.

[6)  Hermano AmericanoMontevideo Blues (1972)]

Gastón “Dino” Ciarlo

Dino first came to prominence in the Uruguayan music scene as a DJ on Radio Ariel and with the beat group Los Gatos as well. On the weekends of his youth my father would attend dances where Dino served as the DJ, always spinning the latest in rock‘n’roll and candombe-beat. After a brief stint of releasing candombe-inflected pop singles himself and an LP as a solo artist in 1969 and the early 70’s, Dino was looking to abandon both his solo career and his legendary radio show La Tenaza (which tended to feature music by Bob Dylan, Cream, Ray Charles, and others like that). He knew that to accomplish the experimental musical ideas he had rolling around in his head for quite some time now he required a full band skilled in the diverse sounds of traditional Uruguay folk music. Dino searched for a band in order to “[…] fuse the rawness of rock music with obscure native rhythms like malambo, milonga and chamarritta […]” (Tornatore, 2007).

“The tropicalismo of Brazil made us realize that we had work

to do with our own national music traditions”

—Dino (Tornatore, 2007).

In 1972 he found just the group to accomplish this with—Montevideo Blues: Eduardo “Pocho” Díttamo (guitar and backing vocals); Néstor Barnada (guitar and backing vocals); Horacio “Niño” Costa (bass); Julio César “Lelo” Surraco (percussion); and José “Pepe” Martínez Díaz (drums). In addition to this “folk-rock” sound, this album features extremely incisive, political and socially conscious lyrics—particularly for a time when it was a true danger to do so. Like many at the time, Dino had been growing increasingly politicized, intensely so with his compositions. During his concerts of ’71 he would often pause in the middle of the show to read the Acts of Parliament, only to afterwards declare, “You realize that these guys are a bunch of liars!” (Tornatore, 2007).

Around this time—as the economy was collapsing, labor and student movements were holding demonstrations and strikes, and the left-wing urban guerilla group the Tupamaros were fighting the government in a struggle for equality and justice for the people—the government followed the example of so many other South American countries and declared a police state. In June 1968, President Jorge Pacheco, trying to suppress unrest, enforced a state of emergency and repealed all constitutional rights. The government began a program of imprisoning political dissidents (often secretly), used torture during interrogations, and brutally repressed demonstrations (Nahum, 1991).

Flag of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement

By 1972 the majority of the Tupamaros had been either killed or were imprisoned under horrifying conditions where they would remain for well over a decade. In July of 1973, despite the deteriorated threat posed by the suppressed political dissidents, the government under Juan María Bordaberry dissolved parliament and ceded government authority over to the military, under whose auspices he remained as the first in a series of military approved presidents.

“President” Juan María Bordaberry

This bloodless coup led to further repression and the suppression of all political parties. The following month, the Tupamaros formed the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta with other leftwing groups pursuing urban guerrilla warfare in South America. This all soon led to Operation Condor, in which the military regimes in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia all cooperated to repress, kidnap, torture, and kill intellectuals, socialists, and others deemed opponents. “Conservative estimates suggest a minimum of 60,000 people were ‘disappeared’ during Operation Condor […] and countless more were imprisoned and tortured” (Olle, 2012).

Upon their release from imprisonment after the collapse of the dictatorship in the late 80’s, many of the former guerrillas banded together to form a political party, which in recent years has won all of the elections and are now the progressive head of the Uruguayan Government. On March 1, 2010 former Tupamaro José “Pepe” Mujica—who spent 14 years in a military prison (two of those confined at the bottom of a well)—took office as President of Uruguay. On March 5th of 2010 former president Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in 1976 political assassinations. Prior to that, on October 22, 2009, another former Uruguayan president/dictator, Gregorio Conrado Álvarez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for 37 counts of murder and human rights violations (BBC, 2009).

President José “Pepe” Mujica

However, back in 1972 when Dino and Montevideo Blues were recording their sole album there was little hope in sight. Dino felt that this situation needed to be addressed in their music:

We follow the course of history, the history of those who suffer

from economic situations. And I say to you that I have been

hungry, and cold, and have had problems trying to buy a liter of

milk for my children. Yet the creators of the problems continue

to promise a better future: “within six months, we are going to see

 an improvement,” “this year no, but next year yes, dear compatriots,”

and so on throughout history. The fault is always placed on the

international markets, and never on the bad economic conditions

that lead to social disasters; the blame is always placed upon

pensioners, teachers, health care workers, and of course, it is

always the fault of the left…When a musician or a composer

looks around and sees how his brothers live, he puts it in a song

—Dino (Tornatore, 2007).

Before Dino even commences with the declarative holler of his vocals “Hermano Americano” (American Brother) immediately demands the attention of your spinal column and shoulder muscles with its frenetic eddies of guitar that ripple around the percussive, clipped gallop of the rhythm and the corpulent bounds and burrows of the bass. This pace soon all give way to the weight of a rasped, surreal monologue over a jazz riff, wherein a child’s nightmare coalesces into the horror of bureaucracy and corruption that plague the world of adults. Another element of this song that I love is that it does not address the U.S. with blind ire, but with a moral superiority that serves to condemn and shame American arrogance. Here, Dino and Montevideo Blues wag their finger at the greasy muscle and appetite of the United States, and with good reason. All of the South American dictatorships were put into place not only with the U.S.’ support, but actual involvement.

Dan Mitrione

On July 31st of 1970 the Tupamaros kidnapped one Daniel A. Mitrione who had been serving under the Nixon administration as a United States government advisor for the Central Intelligence Agency in Uruguay. Mitrione, who was once quoted as having said, “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect” (Patar, 2001) had been sent to Uruguay to instruct the police force there on effective torture techniques. It is said that “Mitrione had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in Montevideo, in which he assembled selected Uruguayan police officers to observe torture-technique demonstrations” (Hevia Cosculluela, 1981). Allegedly, these demonstrations were conducted upon vagrants picked up off the street who were executed once the lesson was over. The Uruguayan government, with the United States backing, refused to meet the Tupamaros’ demands and Mitrione was later found dead in a car. Other than the two fatal gunshot wounds to his head, there was no other signs of maltreatment; he had not been tortured.

Art on the street Sarandi.

Art on the street Sarandi.

Hermano Americano” (American Brother)

American Brother

American Brother, this is for you

American Brother

American brother, remember

That the owner of the world is not the strongest

But the one that is right

The pirates

Have a thousand frigates

Pointed sabers,

They always wear neckties,

They have hair on all their feet,

Heads of the dead,

and long hands.

The Pirates are all made of glass

And many get scared when

They talk of the town

Once they have retired

All they do

Is run for Deputy

American Brother

American Brother, this is for you

American Brother

American brother, remember

That the owner of the world is not the strongest

But the one that is right


La Leyenda performing their murga at the Teatro De Verano (Feb. 8, 2013)]

La Leyenda performing their murga at the Teatro De Verano (Feb. 8, 2013)

La Leyenda performing their murga at the Teatro De Verano (Feb. 8, 2013)

La Leyenda performing their murga at the Teatro De Verano (Feb. 8, 2013)

[7) And I Love HerLa Fragua (2001)] [Snippet]

Originally Released in June of ’64 as a 7” single.

Just a snippet of the Argentinean band La Fragua’s rendition of Paul McCartney’s beautifully stark opening phrase to The Beatles “And I Love Her.” While in our apartment in the Pocitos beach area of Montevideo (generously lent to us by my amazing aunt and uncle in Australia) I nearly immediately turned the dial to 97.1 and tuned in to discover the wonderful public radio station Babel, which plays classical, Jazz, and a vast array of “folk” music from around the world: everything from bossa nova to Tibetan throat singing! Babel remained the only stationed I listened to the entire time I was there in the capital, and one of the many groups it turned me on to was La Fragua.

Formed in Bariloche, which is situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake in Argentina, La Fragua perform remarkable covers of The Beatles tunes by incorporating the folkloric instrumentation and traditional styles of South America—here you can watch them perform a fun rendition of  “Yellow Submarine as a Chamamé (a sort of Argentinean Polka).

Anyway, the reason here for including only a snippet (other than time constraints) of “And I Love Her” is that this musical phrase was utilized during one of the more placid segments (of which there were very few) of the hilarious Murga we saw performed by the group La Leyenda (pictured above) at the Teatro De Verano, an outdoor amphitheater in which a major portion of the Carnaval concerts are held. A type of theatre, murga operates as a sort of “cultural therapy” in which competing groups prepare a 45-minute long musical play consisting of costume changes and a suite of songs that address (often hysterically) current events and “hot topics” in Uruguay or elsewhere over the preceding year, such as racism, the legalization of marijuana, gay-marriage, and reckless drivers (a true hazard in Montevideo).


Fuente de los Candados, where lovers leave an inscribed lock

Fuente de los Candados.

"The legend of this young fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked."

“The legend of this young fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked.”

Poster hung up at Bar Los Beatles in Montevideo

Poster hung up at Bar Los Beatles in Montevideo

[8) Valentine DayPaul McCartney (1970)]





After spending the live-long-day walking along the beach and through the town of Punta del Diablo, eating empanadas and fresh seafood, we spent the evening on our deck watching the shore, talking, and (accompanied by some Fernet Branca and liters of Cerveza Patricia) doing a little tipsy boogie-woogie to this and other numbers off of Paul McCartney’s solo debut, McCartney, released in April of 1970.

Playing every instrument himself (although his wife Linda does add the occasional backing vocal), McCartney’s impeccable knack for the interplay of rhythm with vertical melodies is here applied to a rough-recorded and ramshackle patchwork of pop, blues, rock & roll, country, funk, and folk. Odd, amusing, and never taking itself too seriously—this quick LP is a simple pleasure to listen to. Under appreciated—highly recommended.



The streets of Colonia del Sacramento, the oldest town in Uruguay

The streets of Colonia del Sacramento, the oldest town in Uruguay

[9) JacintaEduardo Mateo (1972)]

A sweet bossa nova by a pure musician. By the time El Kinto had officially disintegrated in the early part of 1970 most of Mateo’s friends and associates were already convinced that he had gone completely insane. Despite the fact that these same people viewed him as a musical genius, they did not know what to make of his habits of disappearing for days at a time, either to lock himself up somewhere in a rented room to explore new realms on his instrument while searching for spiritual enlightenment through chemicals, or to wander the streets with nothing but pajamas and a guitar—there was always a guitar, a rare constant in this man’s unhinged life. Once, my uncle saw him walking the streets at night with one foot aligned with the curb, the other with the gutter, so that he was forced to maintain an awkward and drastic limp to his gait—how’s that for a metaphor?!

Speaking of this period in Mateo’s life, Uruguayan singer Verónica Indart had this story to tell:

“The last time I saw him was in the first years of the 1970s. I was

with Héctor, my husband, and Mateo arrived. He entered, he took

up the guitar, and he sat down to play by the window, looking at the

sea for a long while. We listened to him. When he finished, he got up,

he set down the guitar and he went out the door without a greeting.

That was Mateo. He arrived, gave us his music and went on without

greeting us, because it was not necessary” (Lion Production, 2006).

In 1971, for those who were fortunate to have heard Mateo play there was no doubt of that man’s overwhelming talent—mental illness or not; however, beyond a handful of tracks there existed little recorded evidence of it. This would soon change due to the influence of talented singer Diane Denoir, and through the dedication and passion of producer Carlos Píriz. Píriz, a recording technician who had worked for the live, music television show Discodromo had recently started the record label De la Planta along with Jorge “Coyo” Abuchalja, guitarist for the group Los Delfines. The ethos behind this venture was to maintain a Uruguayan label that was dedicated to Uruguayan musicians, providing them with better production, recording techniques, and better distribution than the then norm. Fortunately, through Píriz’s connections, they were able to secure regular studio time at ION Studios in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the recording technology was far superior to that found in their native country (four tracks as opposed to two at most, for example).

Diane Denoir

In October of 1971 one such artist they chose to present to the public was the singer Diane Denoir. As she was recording a fair amount of Mateo’s material for her De la Planta debut, she felt it was only appropriate that the artist himself accompany her on some of the tracks. Having convinced Mateo to take the trip, Píriz quickly took advantage of the rare opportunity by persuading him to stay and record a solo LP for the label. However, in spite of Píriz’s optimistic plans to complete the recording in one week, he soon found that dealing with this erratic artist would be an ultimate test of endurance and patience.

            The sessions went like this: Mateo had an alphabetic notebook,

and stuck in each page he had bar napkins upon which his songs

were written. If he knew the first letter of the title of the song he

wished to play, he would find the correct napkin, which would help

him remember the melody, so that he could recreate the original idea

he had envisioned when he had composed the song in the first place.

            Remembering the songs was only the first obstacle […]. Mateo

would record songs one day, and erase them the next. “The first day

he recorded three or four things,” Píriz recalled. “The following day

he came in and said, ‘erase them. For Mateo, they are all wrong.’

We erased them. And that process of erasing the previous day’s work

continued for four or five days. At that moment, I understood that this

would be the system for the whole disc […]. I decided that I will be the

person who says what was well-recorded, or not, and I began to keep

all the material.”

    On other days, Mateo went to ION studios only to say that he was not

inspired, and would return the next day. Then there were the days that

he appeared at the studio, and asked, “What time do we record tomorrow?”

“The same as today, at four o’clock,” Píriz would say. “Okay I am going,

until tomorrow,” was Mateo’s only reply (Lion Production, 2006).

This whole arduous process continued for two months, until one day when Mateo said to the producer that he was stepping out of the studio to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never came back. He had returned to his streets in Montevideo. Píriz was left holding hours of recordings of these fragmented sessions—the only proof that Mateo had even been there. A labor of love, Píriz would then spend the better part of a year assembling these into the album that would be released in December of 1972: Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame.

One of the thirteen brilliant compositions that Píriz extracted from the chaos is the lovelorn “Jacinta.” Through his dedication, Píriz was able to capture on this record the complex sensitivity of this troubled artist. Seeing as how, other than a rare background vocal here and there, Mateo created every sound on this album himself, his essence truly shines through each composition. I particularly love the closing movements to this track, when the song suddenly shifts to a delicate chooga-chooga as the singer warns: “Hurry, the train is leaving.”


A personal touch on a city bus.

A personal touch on a city bus.

[10) Fields Of JoyLenny Kravitz (1991)]

Each bus in the capital city of Montevideo tends to have some idiosyncratic feature, some personal touch that distinguishes it from others. This fact, coupled with their apparent cleanliness (you can typically find a bucket filled with cleaning supplies stuffed under one of the seats) led my wife and I to believe that each driver might actually own the bus he drives. In addition to the personal touches—such as a neon peace sign or a John Lennon poster—the drivers tend to play their own radio over the loudspeaker system. On one particular ride we took from the neighborhood of Pocitos to Ciudad Vieja the driver was rocking Lenny Kravitz’s sophomore album, Mama Said, released in April of 1991.

As this is the only Kravitz album that could accurately be described as brilliant (believe me, I own a good deal of them), and seeing as how I haven’t listened to it in about a decade—I was truly enjoying this ride: The bright, hot light of the sun piercing through the blue curtains while over the rumble of the engine the opening notes of acoustic guitar walk calmly alongside the slow psychedelic trill of a mellotron, falsetto vocals— “…All trouble slowly fades away…”—all mounting to an outburst of rock ‘n’ roll cut and crunch. Taut and diverse, on his follow up to his 1989 debut, Let Love Rule, Kravitz develops the catchiest elements of his influences (the obvious ones being Hendrix, Lennon, Sly Stone, Prince, and Al Green) but elevates what could have been mere revivalism and kitsch by focusing them through the various, fervent emotions and anguish churned up by the impending end of his marriage to actress Lisa Bonet, mother to his two-year-old daughter, Zoe.

Kravitz & Lisa Bonet with their daughter Zoe.

Kravitz & Slash

Impressively, Kravitz essentially functions as a one-man-band here on this album, playing nearly every instrument and even creating the horn and string arrangements. Opening track “Fields of Joy” is one of the rare exceptions, featuring the soaring, keen-edged and held bends of Slash’s guitar playing. “Fields of Joy” is also a rather peculiar choice to open the LP with, as it is a cover of a little remember group, The New York Rock Ensemble, who first released the song on their 1971 album Roll Over. This song in particular was co-written by the group’s organ and oboe player Michael Kamen who would go on to find fame as a composer for films such as Lethal Weapon, and the Die Hard movies. Another member of the group, Martin Fulterman, would later be known as Mark Snow, creating the theme music for several sci-fi television series such as The X-Files and Smallville. I wont go into what I believe went wrong with Kravitz, but I am sure that more than one of you must have rolled your eyes upon seeing his name. Swallowed whole by the cartoon menace of image and frivolous fads, I assure you that at one point he was fairly consistently recording some solid tunes.

Our "Fields of Joy"

Our “Fields of Joy”

This song certainly popped up in my head more than once while roaming on horseback, rounding up cattle and sheep on roughly 2,400 acres of land at the estancia, Panagea; a gaucho ranch located about an hour outside of Tacuarembó in the far north-central region of Uruguay (it is this area that Uruguayans believe was the birthplace to the world’s most celebrated figure of Tango, Carlos Gardel, an assertion that is still hotly contested by both France and Argentina, who both lay claim to him as a national son).

An old advertisement for yerba mate on display in one of those odd old galerías that run through the blocks surrounding the avenue 18 De Julio in the Centro area of Montevideo.

An old advertisement for yerba mate on display in one of those odd, dusty galerías that run through the blocks surrounding the avenue 18 De Julio in the Centro area of Montevideo.

Panagea is certainly one of the greatest places to be found on this green earth:



"I was told when I grew up I could be anything I wanted: a fireman, a policeman, a doctor - even president, it seemed. And for the first time in the history of mankind, something new, called an astronaut. But like so many kids brought up on a steady diet of westerns, I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero - that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth, and justice. And in my heart of hearts I still track the remnants of that dream wherever I go, in my endless ride into the setting sun." - Bill Hicks

“I was told when I grew up I could be anything I wanted: a fireman, a policeman, a doctor – even president, it seemed. And for the first time in the history of mankind, something new, called an astronaut. But like so many kids brought up on a steady diet of westerns, I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero – that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth, and justice. And in my heart of hearts I still track the remnants of that dream wherever I go, in my endless ride into the setting sun.” – Bill Hicks

Real-deal gaucho & ranch-hand, Balinga.

Real-deal gaucho & ranch-hand, Balinga.

Owned and operated by Juan and his wife Suzanna—who together are a splendid combination of culture, dry-humor, and convivial conversation—this ranch offers one some first-hand (albeit clumsy hands in my case) experience of the no-frills yet pure-joy of the Gaucho culture. I implore all who read this to make an effort to visit this place and stay in their grand (albeit without electricity) home. It was here at Panagea that I also encountered this bit of wisdom, hand painted on a sheet of wood:



Bar Los Beatles

Bar Los Beatles

[11) La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar/Mi Tía Clementina Los Shakers (1968)]

The phenomenal, Uruguayan musical siblings, the Fattoruso brothers (Hugo and Jorge Osvaldo), got their start as children playing in a jazz trio with their father. In 1964, however, upon hearing the music of The Beatles the brothers decided that this model was the direction they needed to take their music and image, and enlisted bassist Roberto “Pelin” Capobianco, and drummer Carlos “Caio” Vila to create Los Shakers. Singing original composition written in English, they developed into a pop-rock sensation that, like basically every other band in existence in the 60s, would follow the new musical leads established by each subsequent release by “The Fab Four.”

By 1968, as Osvaldo Fattoruso would later note, the band was “tired of playing at being the Beatles” (Zolov, 2011) and soon went their separate ways. “[Los Shakers’] dissolution marked the end of an era in which, for a brief period, English-language Uruguayan rock dominated the South American pop charts” (Zolov, 2011). However, they would first release their attempt, ala Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, at a psychedelic masterpiece: La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar  (The Toto’s Bar’s Secret Conference). During the recording of the album the group had already determined to dissolve, and thus abandoning commercial aspirations, they diversified their sound and added native rhythms to create a more original, organic musical sensibility modeled after the “strange” liberation of form The Beatles had demonstrated. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had as great an impact on Latin American culture as it did throughout the rest of the world. As Ian MacDonald wrote in his exceptional track-by-track assessment of The Beatles’ output, Revolution In The Head:

When Sgt. Pepper was released in June [of 1967], it was a

major cultural event. Young and old alike were entranced. […]

In America normal radio-play was virtually suspended for

several days, only tracks from Sgt. Pepper being played. An

almost religious awe surrounded the LP. Paul Kantner of the

San Francisco acid rock band Jefferson Airplane remembers

how The ByrdsDavid Crosby brought a tape of Sgt. Pepper

to their Seattle hotel and played it all night in the lobby with a

hundred young fans listening quietly on the stairs, as if rapt by a

spiritual experience. “Something,” says Kantner, “enveloped the

whole world at that time and it just exploded into a renaissance.”

            The psychic shiver which Sgt. Pepper sent through the

world was nothing less than a cinematic dissolve from one

Zeitgeist to another. In The Times, Kenneth Tynan called it

“a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization,” a

remark now laughed at but nonetheless true, if perhaps not quite

in the way that it was intended. As the shock wore off, voices

from an earlier age began to complain that this music was

absolutely saturated in drugs. Not wishing to promote LSD,

the BBC banned “A Day In The Life” and “Lucy In The Sky

With Diamonds,” while others found drug references inn

Fixing A Hole” and “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

More Bizarrely, “She’s Leaving Home” was attacked by

religious groups in America as a cryptic advertisement for


            While half these claims were spurious, it would be silly

to pretend that Sgt. Pepper wasn’t fundamentally shaped by LSD.

The Album’s sound—in particular its use of various forms of echo

and reverb—remains the most authentic aural simulation of the

psychedelic experience ever created. At the same time, something

else dwells in it: a distillation of the spirit of 1967 as it was felt by

vast numbers across the Western world who had never taken drugs in

their lives. If such a thing as a cultural “contact high” is possible, it

happened here. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band may not have

created the psychic atmosphere of the time but, as a near-perfect

reflection of it, this famous record magnified and radiated it around

the world (2007).

It’s easy to write-off La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar as a “Sgt. Pepper” rip-off but I could rattle off the top of my head a dozen renowned groups (The Rolling Stones, for one) that did the same, only not as convincingly or inventively as Los Shakers.

Che Guevara visiting with Uruguayan President Eduardo Victor Haedo at Haedo’s summer home in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Aug. 7, 1961. Che was sent to head Cuba’s delegation to the economic conference of the Organization of the Amercian States (OAS) at Punta del Este, Uruguay, where he denounced U.S. President Kennedy’s “Alliance for Progress.” (Click here to read the remarkably audacious, yet earnest speech that Che delivered on August 8, 1961 at Punta del Este: http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1961/08/08.htm

Recorded shortly after the assassination of Argentine guerrilla revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara by Bolivian special forces trained, supported, and orchestrated by the CIA, the title track, “La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar”—which segues directly into the amusing, listless and ragged jazz waltz of “Mi Tía Clementina (My Aunt Clementine)—is “a sardonic retelling of the [January 31] 1962 meeting [in Punta del Este, Uruguay] that led to the expulsion of Cuba from the Organization of American States” (Zolov, 2011). Despite being a founding member of the OAS, following the Cuban Revolution of 1959 The United States had encouraged OAS representatives from South and Central America as well as the Caribbean country of Haiti to advocate a hard line against Cuba, which would eventually see Cuba suspended, denied the right of representation and attendance at meetings, and of any participation in activities.

Maybe I read it in a storybook/Maybe in a picture/beneath the author’s desk/There were three generals with little boots/Each one with a pocketful of medals/ […] /From London, Paris, Berlin, they went on holidays/They billed the kids from Uruguay/And stopped at San Rafael” —(San Rafael being a very popular hotel/casino in Punta del Este, which on February 18, 1969 would be robbed by members of the Tupamaros for a total of 70 million pesos).



El desfile de llamadas, 2013

El desfile de llamadas, 2013:


[12) African BirdOpa (1976)]

Opa: the Fattoruso brothers & Ringo Thielman

To demonstrate the sheer virtuosity of the Fattoruso brothers—soon after the dissolution of Los Shakers they moved to New York City and formed the latin-jazz fusion group Opa: featuring Osvaldo now on drums, percussion, and vocals; Hugo now handling vocals and keyboards; and Ringo Thielman on bass and vocals. Through their concerts during the early 1970s this exceptionally innovative trio caught the ear of Brazilian percussionist extraordinaire Airto Moreira (who helped color and create the sessions surrounding Miles Davis’ genius work on Bitches Brew, which was already featured in these pages, here.

Airto Moreira

Airto was so impressed with the fluid, musical camaraderie of Opa that he employed the group (along with his own wife, vocalist Flora purim, and guitarist David Amaro) to function as the band for his stunning 1973 LP Fingers.

Fingers line-up: Flora Purim, David Amaro, Airto Moreira, Hugo Fattoruso, and “Jorge” osvaldo

Essentially utilizing the same musical configuration (but adding Hermeto Pascoal on flute), Airto would then go on to produce and contribute to Opa’s only two LPs, 1976’s Golden Wings, and Magic Time, released in 1977.

A Rubén Rada composition recorded for Golden Wings (Rada himself would become a member of the group for their second LP), the sound of “African Bird” perfectly hints at the sensation of standing amongst the crowds on the street Isla de Flores, while watching the participants in the Llamadas parade their way through the neighborhoods of Barrio Sur and Palermo: the intricate rhythms of hundreds and hundreds of drummers marching while mammoth flags and banners pass over the throng of brightly costumed and bare-skinned dancers.


The wife and I helping Juan Manuel and Balinga corral innumerable sheep so that they could receive their vaccines and treatment for hoof rot:

The wife and I at Panagea helping Juan Manuel and Balinga corral innumerable sheep and cattle so that they could receive their vaccines and treatment for hoof rot:



Two works from the Pareja series (or Cosmic Couple series) by Uruguayan painter, potter, musician and key figure in the Constructivism Art movement: José Gurvich (January 5, 1927 – June 24, 1974).



Sitting in the sunshine along Montevideo’s Rambla:




[13) Barnyard/Old Master Painter/You Are My SunshineBrian Wilson (2004)]

It is generally understood that The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper was in part created in reaction to The Beach Boys’ brilliant and Brian Wilson directed LP Pet Sounds. In 1967, while deeply entrenched in an attempt to create an ambitious follow-up to that work, a 24-year-old Brian Wilson would suffer a severe and complete mental breakdown. This, along with conflict within the group would force them to abandon the project that Wilson had collaboratively conceived with lyricist Van Dyke Parks: SMiLE.

Wilson while recording the track “The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow).”

Despite being envisaged as a “benchmark in the use of the studio as the ultimate instrument, […] the next step in the evolution of record production” (Leaf, 1990), in September of 1967 the world received in its stead the rerecorded scraps, Smiley Smile. While wholly enjoyable (and at times brilliantly weird) it is hard to disagree with Carl Wilson’s assessment of the album as “a bunt instead of a grand slam” (Carlin, 2006).

Astonishingly—thirty-six years after the project was aborted and after decades of arduous mental rehabilitation—in 2003 Wilson (along with Parks and Darian Sahanaja, keyboardist and backing vocalist in Wilson’s touring band, The Wondermints) decided to take on the daunting task of revisiting and completely rerecording the entire conceived album from memory!

Turn that frown upside down

The trio made subtle changes to the music when necessary,

and in the spring, Wilson headed to Studio One at Sunset

Sound in Los Angeles to make his record. Just as he’d made

the original “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes & Villains” there,

Wilson gathered his band, strings and brass to record the tracks,

cutting the basic arrangements live while doing the vocals on

the same tube consoles his old Beach Boys had (Leone, 2004).

The results, released in 2004 as Brian Wilson Presents Smile, is a stunning, intricate suite of songs that create a musical journey across a conceptual America, from east to west: beginning at Plymouth Rock and ending in Hawaii. Although exceedingly delayed, it certainly lives up to what Wilson ambitiously described in 1966 as “a teenage symphony to God” (Richardson, 2011). Perhaps weird on my part, but one of my favorite sections of this album has always been when the melodic cacophony of “Barnyard” thumps, plucks, and sways into a glum rendition of the American standard “You Are My Sunshine.”


Me with my cousin’s boyfriend and musical director for the troupe Mi Morena: José Redondo

Me with my cousin’s boyfriend and musical director for the troupe Mi Morena: José Redondo.

Some shots from the elaborate musical Mi Morena performed at the Teatro de Verano for the Carnaval season of 2013:

Some shots from the elaborate musical Mi Morena performed at the Teatro de Verano for the Carnaval season of 2013:


[14) Principe AzulEl Kinto (1968)]

Oscar Wilde in 1882 (photo by Napoleon Sarony).

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only

find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he

sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

Oscar Wilde, in The Critic as Artist (1891).

Another remarkable track from El Kinto in 1968; the at-times lugubrious but always tender lullaby “Principe Azul” (Blue Prince), about one boy’s desire to enter his dream and stay there. The song was musically composed by Eduardo Mateo, while the lyrics were the work of actor and theater director, Horacio “Corto” Buscaglia. In 1969, these two would go on to create and direct the Musicasiónes, a series of four live concerts fundamental to Uruguayan popular music held between June and November at the Teatro El Galpón in Montevideo.

By 1969, El Kinto had great prestige among counter-cultural

young people in Uruguay, people described as having “an

expansive mentality characteristic of the Woodstock era and of

the hippie movement.” All the band needed was someplace to

play on a regular basis, a way to establish themselves in a relaxed

setting (perhaps harkening back to those days in Orfeo Negro).

Theater El Galpón came to the rescue […]. El Kinto was the host

group [for the Musicasiónes], assisted by a myriad of guests who

made renaissance music, danced tango, recited poetry, or played

music: jazz, bossa nova, candombe, free improvisations in support

of movies that were projected on stage, as well as other music best

described as indefinable. There were slides, sketches, dances, and

creative light effects, all obtained with negligible economic

resources, and realized without rehearsals (Lion Productions, 2006).

 “Principe Azul

Eduardo Mateo -vocal, rhythm guitar

Urbano Moraes – keyboard, bass

Walter Cambón – lead guitar

Luis Sosa – drums

“Chichito” Cabral & Rubén Rada – percussion


Dream, Blue Prince.

Little child you are.

You’ll have moons of cheese.

Where will the moon go?

It strikes twelve and you’ll have

Little glass slippers.

Blue Prince, you’ll have them soon,

Little mice will bring them.

When you wake from your dream

The sky will no longer have the moon.

You should look for that kiss.

Better follow your dream.

You’ll have an enchanted forest.

Alongside the drumming rabbit,

White squirrels will come.



[15) FlyNick Drake (1970)]

Waking up feeling a little worse for wear in our little beach-side apartment in Punta del Diablo, and after procuring a large cup of coffee (not an easy task in Uruguay, I had to convince the woman behind the counter at a small beach-side bakery to dump the remnants of the pot into a plastic container she happened to have on hand as opposed to only selling me a tiny paper cupful), I believed Nick Drake’s album of 1970—Bryter Layter—would be the perfect thing to ease into the bright day with. The second of the trio of LPs he recorded before his death on November 25, 1974 from an overdose of antidepressants, this has always been my favorite of Drake’s albums. Here, Nick Drake’s ethereal yet morose melodies, and introspective, poetic lyrics are granted a Baroque elegance through the production work of Joe Boyd and arranger Robert Kirby’s undulating orchestration. The end result is a work that is captivating without being obtrusive, something that holds the weight of “art” but is still pleasant to listen to.

As the album played I sat in the sun to drink coffee mixed with chocolate milk poured from a plastic bag and read Voice Of The Fire, the spellbinding debut novel by celebrated comic book writer Alan Moore. Released in 1996, the novel takes place in the month of November but over a period of 6,000 years and follows the lives of twelve people who lived in the same area of England (Moore’s hometown of Northampton). In a twist of metafiction with the last chapter, Moore describes the work with these words:

It’s about the vital message that the stiff lips of decapitated

men still shape; the testament of black and spectral dogs

written in piss across our bad dreams. It’s about raising the

dead to tell us what they know. It is a bridge, a crossing-point,

a worn spot in the curtain between our world and the

underworld, between the mortar and the myth, fact and fiction,

a threadbare gauze no thicker than a page. It’s about the

powerful glossolalia of witches and their magical revision of

the texts we live in. None of this is speakable.

Unfortunately, with more-or-less a hundred pages to go, I would go on to lose the book while staying at the Panagea ranch; even still—highly recommended.

Perhaps in a couple of decades Juan and Suzanna’s adorable daughters, Dharma and Abril, will enjoy the book?

Perhaps in a couple of decades Juan and Suzanna’s adorable daughters, Dharma and Abril, will enjoy the book?


Anyway, as the seventh track “Fly” swelled and chimed with John Cale’s moaning viola and ornate harpsichord, my wife began to stir from her sleep in the upstairs bedroom. Through that initial gauze of first opening your eyes to a hangover she heard Drake’s repetitive whine of Please and believed that there was a diminutive cop at the door squeaking out “Police!…Police!” A slight, sluggish, yet amusing panic momentarily followed.


The tower and tomb of aviator and pioneer Aaron De Anchorena (November 5, 1877—February 24, 1965), set on his ranch where the left bank of the San Juan River flows into the Rio de la Plata. Upon his death he donated all 1,370 acres of this arboretum and wildlife conservatory to the state to serve as both an educational park and as the retreat home of the president.

The 246 ft. tall tower and tomb of aviator and pioneer Aaron De Anchorena (November 5, 1877—February 24, 1965), set on his ranch where the left bank of the San Juan River flows into the Rio de la Plata. Upon his death he donated all 1,370 acres of this arboretum and wildlife conservatory to the state to serve as both an educational park and as the retreat home of the president.

A snippet of the 320 steps that spiral up the tower’s interior

A snippet of the 320 steps that spiral up the tower’s interior

The view from atop the tower and tomb

The view from atop the tower and tomb

[17) HombreEduardo Mateo & Verónica Indart (1969)]

Eduardo Mateo (1940–1990).

In 1967, just as El Kinto were commencing their brief but significant career built from the remnants of the band Los Malditos, Eduardo Mateo met singer Verónica Indart and life-long friend Horacio Buscaglia. By 1969 El Kinto began to dissolve, in part due to Mateo’s erratic behavior, “his drug use, his anguished search for a transcendental spiritual dimension, his intransigence and pursuit of full authenticity” (Lion Production, 2006).

As singer Vera Sienra (with whom Mateo worked with on her lovely and delicate debut LP Nuestra Soledad) said of him at this time in the musician’s life:

Mateo was always strange, an almost unreal man in

many aspects. He could be very aggressive, very violent,

but he also was an extremely timid man, very spiritual,

with a great tenderness. His ambitions were creative. He

put all his genius, all his effort, all his pride there, while

others were suddenly looking for ways out of Uruguay.

Suddenly, Mateo was like a hermit…he had moments

when he communicated in monosyllables. You had to

interpret it. It was almost a conversation in key

(Lion Production, 2006).

Throughout the years of 1968 and 1969 Mateo spent long stretches of time living at the home of Buscaglia’s parents in the Montevideo neighborhood of Malvín, and from this intimacy the pair would enter a creative partnership that would produce, among other things, the beautiful song “Principe Azul” and the Musicasiónes series of concerts as well. In 1969, as the two became absolutely enamored by the traditional ethnic music of the Orient—particularly Hindu—they embarked on what would be one Mateo’s numerous unfinished projects. Intended to be one of the first productions released by the newly formed De la Planta label—beyond selecting the title of Horama, they never got further than recording three songs: “Hombre,” “Mumi,” and “Margaritas Rojas.”

The hypnotic dirge of “Hombre” features Verónica Indart’s vocals, which despite their cold drone are imbued with a certain empathetic charisma, which similar singer Nico of The Velvet Underground could never quite seem to fully get across for me. The whole enchantment is completed by Federico García Vigil’s work on double-bass, while Mateo provides both the percussion—emulating the timbre of tablas despite being played on bongos—as well as byzantine acoustic guitar, in which one feels they could wander for hours and never find an exit.

Hombre” (Man)

While the man sings




Time makes the boy




Joins his hands

Calls shouting

Man, Man, Man

Where the people pass by




A far caress




Joins his hands

Calls shouting

Man, Man, Man








One wall along the street of Pérez Castellano in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood of Montevideo

One wall along the street of Pérez Castellano in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood of Montevideo

Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

My wife assimilating into the ubiquitous culture of bitter yerba mate at my aunt's house in the Prado neighborhood of Montevideo, where my mother was born and where all my family there now lives.

My wife assimilating into the ubiquitous culture of bitter yerba mate at my aunt’s house in the Prado neighborhood of Montevideo, where my mother was born and where all my family there now lives.

My cousin and I before the Australian wood of a Eucalyptus tree in El Prado.

My cousin and I before the Australian wood of a Eucalyptus tree in El Prado.

[18) Norwegian Wood (Baguala)La Fragua (2001)]

Here we have a full performance by the wonderful group whose music I was introduced to though Montevideo’s remarkable radio station Babel: La Fragua. Over the course of two albums thus far La Fragua perform renditions of The Beatles tunes by incorporating the folkloric instrumentation and traditional styles of South America into their covers. Taken from volume I of their De Los Andes a Los Beatles series, they creatively reconceptualize the Lennon-McCartney penned classic “Norwegian Wood” as a baguala. The baguala—being a unique folkloric genre native of northwestern Argentina where the valleys extend from the Tucumán province to the border of Bolivia—descended from the mixture of Spanish Colonials with the indigenous communities of the Diaguitas and Calchaquíes peoples. Clever and celebratory throughout, La Fragua demonstrate their brilliant talent for arrangement with the subtle but startling fade-out made here by transitioning from a mesh of festive, adenoidal chanting and crystal guitars to the somnambulated twinkle of the descending chromatic bass line from “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Released on the brilliant Rubber Soul LP in December of 1965, “Norwegian Wood”—made indelible in popular memory by George Harrison’s innovative use of a sitar to double the main descending line—was begun by Lennon during January-February of 1965 while on a skiing holiday in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Lennon’s elusive narrative is now generally recognized as a confession to his wife of an affair, however, at the time it was truly the product of The Beatles attempting to break new lyrical ground; particularly in the wake left by Bob Dylan’s stunning singles from earlier that same year: “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” As Ian MacDonald writes, Lennon was quite aware of the inspirational debt he owed Dylan and actually grew to be quite troubled by what might be the songwriter’s reaction:

For his part, Lennon was uneasy about trespassing on Dylan’s

territory and when the latter, on his next album Blonde On

Blonde, produced an inscrutable parody of Norwegian Wood

called “4th Time Around,” the head Beatle was, as he later

admitted, “paranoid”: what did the title mean? Norwegian

Wood, I’m A Loser, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,

and…Baby’s In Black? Or was it the [peaked “Dylan”] cap

[Lennon wore]? And what was Dylan driving at in those closing

lines: “I never asked for your crutch/Now don’t ask for mine”…?

In the end, the matter was settled amicably when the two met—

for the fifth time—in London in April 1966. In truth, Dylan got

on reasonably well with Lennon, with whom he had a fair amount

in common (2007).


Graffiti stenciled in along the street of Tristán Narvaja, Montevideo.

Graffiti stenciled in along the street of Tristán Narvaja, Montevideo.

[19) 4th Time AroundBob Dylan (1966)]

Dylan on Jacob Street in lower Manhattan in 1966 (photo by Jerry Schatzberg).

A few drinks into an evening in our rented apartment in Punta Del Diablo, I recall listening to Bob Dylan’s double LP and masterpiece of 1966, Blonde on Blonde, and attempting to explain to my wife why “4th Time Around” is one of the greatest songs of all time and how it features one of the most captivating narrative structures ever attempted by a popular recording artist. While I might not recollect all that I said, I stand by those statements. One thing that has always fascinated me about this track is how simply, logically, and direct the unexpected turn in narrative is designed; particularly so on an album comprised of, albeit genius, but often oblique verse ingeniously stitched to free-floating phrases from, as Greil Marcus has expressed it, “The Old, Weird America.” Here, Dylan once more demonstrates how he is a true artist of the songwriting form.

During those years, with the daunting amount of brilliant material he produced, Dylan must have worked on his craft constantly.

With all of its miscommunication, jilted feelings, occasional hysterics, postures, one-liners, and silly rapport (as if Lewis Carroll and Groucho Marx had both just watched Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell brilliantly bounce off each other in Howard HawksHis Girl Friday and got the idea that they should team-up to write the details of a tryst at its end), the moment that it is realized that the entire jumbled affair of an afternoon in a woman’s house has not been confided to you, the listener, but to the woman who is featured in a photograph seated in a wheelchair, a woman that he immediately paid a visit to after the conclusion of the related events—this moment elevates the entire song into a complex emotional and intellectual spectrum of interpersonal relationships rarely ever touched upon so elegantly before or since the day this song was recorded down in Nashville on February 14, 1966 by a twenty-four-year-old Dylan. To add yet another layer to this impressive narrative, the tale is not being told to this woman on the day that these events occurred, but in some distant present. Much like the circular tune from which this takes its inspiration—The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”—the song operates as a confession of an indiscretion. It is the narrator coming clean and giving a complete account of what transpired that day he showed up on her doorstep with a shoe full of Jamaican Rum. However, this confession concludes with something other than a sentiment of remorse; it is more of a succinct summation of the dynamic of their particular relationship. It might be cold, but it is certainly not unfeeling:

And you, you took me in,

You loved me then,

You never wasted time.

And I, I never took much,

I never asked for your crutch,

Now don’t ask for mine.

The inside gatefold art for the first pressing of Blonde on Blonde, released May 16, 1966

Furthermore, it has always impressed me with what precision of language and time these narrative feats are accomplished. After all, it is still only a song, and one with the duration of just four minutes and thirty-five seconds. Other than perhaps a character or two’s affection, nothing here is wasted. With the economic exactitude of clockwork and the finest art the whirl of relatively candid words, delivered with cartoon dust in the throat, juvenile whimsy in the sinuses, and his flawless sense of emphasis are perfectly synchronized to an “archaic waltz” (Heylin, 2009) that is taken at a fast clip and put through its paces by the expert Nashville session men (such as Charlie McCoy, Kenneth Buttrey, and Joe South) Dylan employed to help him capture “that thin, that wild mercury sound” as he later described of the album in an interview with Ron Rosenbaum for Playboy in 1978.

Although both women featured in this tale might disagree, you the listener arrive at the final spirals of the song feeling much like the narrator: that there is nothing more that need be said. At a press conference given in San Francisco in December of 1965 Dylan stated, “All my songs basically say is Good luck. They all tail off at the end with good luck, hope you make it” (Gleason, 2006). With its final words spoken, with its final go-rounds of the spindly tune accompanied by the rapid tapping of percussion and harmonica trailing, it’s as if the narrator is walking off with an awkward smile that suggests: Hey, what more do you want from me?

Feb. 1966

Admittedly, I am a Dylan fanatic, but how can you not marvel at the mind that can create such things?

As an obvious nod to the iconic image of the songwriter by Milton Glaser, this photo illustration by Andrew Nimmo and Beth Bartholomew was created to accompany Duff McDonald‘s article, “Inside Dylan’s Brain,” published on April 8, 2008, in Vanity Fair.


Art on the street Sarandi.

Art on the street Sarandi.

[20) Zamba De Mi EsperanzaJorge Cafrune & Los Chalchaleros (1964/2000)]

One evening in Montevideo we went out to catch a tango or two at Baar Fun Fun (pronounced foonfoon if you don’t want to receive a searching stare of incomprehension from a cabdriver). Founded in 1895, the club’s close quarters are comfortably comprised of old wood, a small stage, and walls cluttered with pictures of national icons of tango such as Carlos Gardel and festooned with brightly colored soccer jerseys and other bric-a-brac.


The space might be tight at times, but like true Uruguayans they don’t seem to fret too much:


I don’t recall the performers’ names that evening, but as my wife and I sat at a small table on the open-aired deck drinking Tannat wine as well as a small glass of sweet Uvita, we were treated to quite a show. A slick and taut couple rhythmically kicked, swiveled their torsos, twirled and stepped seductively to the evocative sounds of a bandoneón, all within the blue glow of a spotlight that cut through the dim room from above. At one point the man in the dark suit paused to posture and comb back his polished black hair while the woman wrapped tight in a red dress pumped her muscular thighs and sent the sharp heel of her shoe flitting past the eyes of the audience seated before her. It was a pleasure to watch something so controlled that yet suggested nothing but abandon.


This couple would alternate stage time with a small, older man with a great big voice who would accompany himself on acoustic guitar. Despite the fact that this man must’ve been only in his early sixties he would begin each love-sick tune with something like: Whoo, che, it must be fifty or sixty years since I’ve sung this one, so forgive me if I don’t recall all the words. This performer would then proceed to deliver the proper compound of stentorian command and injured drag that these types of songs demand—these songs that are so often the beautifully captured expression of men struggling to retain the will to live within the annihilation of love. After one of these amusing preambles the performer struck a familiar sputter and slope across his guitar strings and I immediately recalled hot summer afternoons of my youth spent at my grandmother’s: me, reading some Dungeons & Dragons type fantasy novel, listening through the ratcheting of cicadas to hear her sing along while tending her garden, or otherwise in the kitchen preparing a fine meal.


Written by Luis Profili in 1950, “Zamba De Mi Esperanza” (Zamba Of My Hope) gained widespread popularity when it was featured on the 1964 LP Emoción, Canto y Guitarra by Argentine folk singer Jorge Cafrune, becoming something of a Latin American standard (it is one of the only songs my mother ever learned to play on guitar). Despite its obvious tone of longing and sweet sorrow (or, “the comfort in being sad,” as Kurt Cobain once phrased it in Nirvana’s song from 1993  “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”), and despite the fact that it contains nothing that even remotely concerns politics, the song was summarily banned in the 1970s by the military dictatorship that had seized power in Argentina. Perhaps with its root ethos of hope and perseverance they found the song as offensive and a threat to their agenda? That agenda being that which is always the ultimate aim of all tyranny: the complete subjugation and defilement of the soul.

To a family of Syrian-Lebanese origin, Cafrune was born August 8, 1937 on his parents’ ranch (La Matilde), which was located in the northern Argentine province of Jujuy. “El Turco,” as he came to be known, grew to be a gaucho cult figure, riding from town to town on horseback, always with a guitar and a song.

In 1977, at the age of forty and after spending several years living in Spain, Cafrune returned to Argentina, which was governed at the time by the brutal military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. During a performances at the Cosquín Folk Festival in January 1978, Cafrune refused to obey the interdict the regime placed upon one of his most-loved songs, stating: “Although it is not in the authorized repertoire, if my people requests it of me, I am going to sing it” (Ramos, 2004). Days later Cafrune was to begin a pilgrimage tour in honor of José de San Martín, who along with the likes of Simón Bolívar, and Uruguay’s own national hero, José Gervasio Artigas, helped liberate South America from the Spanish Empire in the early 1800’s.

Gral. José de San Martín—as depicted by amazing comic book artist ( The Cisco Kid, Hernán the Corsair) José Luis Salinas (Feb. 11, 1908—Jan 10, 1985).

My wife within Artigas' Mausoleum: an underground room beneath his statue at the center of Montevideo's  Plaza Independencia

My wife within Artigas’ Mausoleum: an underground room beneath his statue at the center of Montevideo’s Plaza Independencia

Intending to visit the capitals of each province, like a true gaucho this entire tour was to be conducted all on horseback.

As he set out upon his white horse on January 31, 1978, and under what could only lightly be described as “suspicious circumstances,” Cafrune was crushed by a passing truck in a “hit-and-run.” Nearly twelve hours later, on February 1, 1978, Cafrune succumbed to his severe injuries and died.

Cafrune in the 1970s

The rendition I present here is an amalgam, which features Cafune’s original recording of “Zamba De Mi Esperanza” synced up to one by the the Argentine quartet, Los Chalchaleros. Released in 2000 on their farewell double LP, Todos Somos Chalchaleros, Los Chalchaleros first gained international recognition with this song back in 1965. Formed in 1948 in the northern province of Salta, Los Chalchaleros are one of the most respected artists of traditional Argentinian folk music. With its sense of profound respect for both the material and for the man responsible for its ascendancy, I find this version particularly emotionally resonant.

Zamba De Mi Esperanza

Zamba, from my hope

You dawned like a longing.

Dream, dream from the soul

That sometimes dies without flowering.

Dream, dream from the soul

That sometimes dies without flowering

Zamba, I sing to you

Because your song spills love,

A caress of your kerchief

That wraps round my heart

A caress of your kerchief

That wraps round my heart

Star, you who looked

You who heard my pain,

Star, allow me to sing

Allow me to love as I do now.

Star, allow me to sing

Allow me to love as I do now.

Time, that goes by,

Like life, never returns.

Time is killing me

And your love will be, will be

Time is killing me

And your love will be, will be

Sunk on the horizon

I am dust taken by the wind.

Zamba, never leave me,

I, without your song, cannot go on living

Zamba, never leave me,

I, without your song, cannot go on living.


Living by candlelight at night at Panagea.

Living by candlelight at night at Panagea.

Montevideo at night

Montevideo at night.

Traditional costumes on display at El Museo del Carnaval:
Items for sale on the street:

[21) Gioco di BimbaLe Orme (1972)]


While making our way through the crowds gathered on a sunny Sunday morning for the vast flea market that encompasses numerous blocks surrounding the street of Tristán Narvaja in the middle of the Cordón neighborhood of Montevideo, I heard a song that immediately seized me. Side-stepping over to a tarp-covered table displaying a myriad of vinyl and CDs and stacked speakers bumping this haunting melody, I asked the gaunt and graying proprietor what was playing. After a suck and an exhale of his cigarette he excitedly handed me a CD case and asked in slight disbelief if I’ve never heard of the Italian prog-rock group Le Orme.

Staring at the cover art—an arresting oil painting by imaginative Italian artist Walter Mac Mazzieri (1947-1998) titled Garbo di Neve (which I believe translates to something like “The Grace of Snow”) and that features viscous colored gloops pulled and contorted into the cartoon shapes of sullen men, women, and beasts—I answered, “no.” Although now that I think of it I’m fairly certain that my uncle Raul attempted to get me into this group years and years ago when I was not quite prepared to tackle what prog-rock had to offer, this song sounded so strange and attractive. Within the sun-drenched textures of this ballad, behind the atmosphere of somnambulate ease created by a delicate interplay of acoustic guitar, the fanfare and waltz of synths, warm sing-along vocals, and the exquisite use of mandolin and clavinet that alternate between a caress and a tickle through the break—I sensed something deceitful, something wicked.

As it turns out this song—“Gioco di Bimba” (Game of The Little Girl)—is the second track off of Le Orme’s 1972 masterpiece, Uomo di Pezza (Rag Man). Having begun their career in Venice as another psychedelic pop group of the late 60s, by ’71 with their sophomore album Collage, Le Orme (The Footprints) had developed into a much more complex and symphonic set; this progression occurring despite now having been whittled down to a trio: Toni Pagliuca, keyboards; Aldo Tagliapietra, voice, bass, guitars; and Michi Dei Rossi, drums, percussion.

Operating almost as a concept album, at least in terms of its tone and themes if not as a fully fleshed out cinematic narrative, the seven tracks that make up their third LP Uomo di Pezza are threaded together by a poetic examination of spiritual and mental illness, violence, broken dreams, the depersonalization and anxiety of our modern world, and how men and women struggle to negotiate these while attempting to live in “reality.” Essentially, these songs concern the mystery and menace of the human condition, or as one erudite and perhaps mystic minded critic wrote on their Wikipedia page, “The lyrics of Uomo di pezza describe a helpless masculine attitude, juxtaposed to an unknown, inscrutable feminine universe.” Still my favorite track off of this brilliant work, “Gioco di Bimba” is a dream that sours into a nightmare of violation, repression, and the futility of repentance. By the end of this disturbing tale the Rag Man cannot stop repeating to his tailor (for what other God could there be for a Man of Rags?) “I did not want to wake her this way; I did not want to wake her this way,” but, horrifically, it matters little, for “in the game of the little girl, a woman loses.”

Gioco di Bimba” (Game of The Little Girl)

As if by incantation she rises at night,

She walks in silence with eyes still closed

Like she’s following a magic song,

And on the swing returns to dreaming.

The long robe, the face of milk,

and moonbeams on thick hair.

The wax statue stretches out among the flowers,

The jealous goblins are spying.

Swinging, swinging, the wind pushes,

The stars are captured for his desires.

A furtive shadow is pried from the wall:

In the game of the little girl, a woman loses.

A cry in the morning in the middle of the road,

A man of rags calls to his tailor.

With a lost voice he forever repeats:

“I did not want to wake her this way,”

“I did not want to wake her this way.”


The exercise equipment placed within public parks:

The exercise equipment placed within public parks:


Where the street of Sarandi ends as a breakwater pier far out into the Rio de La Plata.

Where the street of Sarandi ends as a breakwater pier far out into the Rio de La Plata.

[22) Siempre CaminarLimonada (1970) [Snippet]]

Just an engaging snippet of the opening to Limonada’s “Siempre Caminar” (Always Walking). Limonada, being the project created by guitarist Walter Cambon and drummer Jose Luis Sosa after the dissolution of El Kinto, released only one album in 1970. Although overall a solid work with some true highlights and hooks, one certainly gets the feeling that something is missing, leaving you less than impressed. Or as Sosa himself expressed it:

            With Limonada, Walter and I thought we wanted to continue

the lineage of El Kinto. I never liked Limonada. I do not like

anything about Limonada. Because something is missing. It is

something that is lame. Headless. The songs were there, musical

possibilities, the musicians even. What was missing? [Eduardo]

Mateo was missing. Or a mind like Mateo’s was missing, a genius

was missing. A dictator was missing, something of that

sort” (Peláez, 2004).



[23) Luna de MargaritaSimón Díaz (1966)]

Standing at the airport in the early a.m. and attempting to check in, my wife and I were informed at this last moment that we in fact were not permitted to board as our last connecting flight to New York had been cancelled due to impending snow storms that were anticipated to bury the eastern seaboard of The United States. Told that there were no other flights available to us for nearly a week, we were stranded in Montevideo. At least, that would have been the case if my beautiful family there did not immediately offer their home to us. They did so without even the slightest sigh of inconvenience.

We spent these additional days walking Montevideo from top to bottom and I can say with confidence that we now know this city better than anyone in my immediate family back in NY, as they emigrated from their country only as they were entering their twenties. Also during this unexpected furlough (which often at times, albeit not unpleasant, felt much what limbo must be like) we were able to make a best new bud—my cousin’s dog: a scrappy little Yorkie named Luna. It was as if she could sense that the only thing we were truly homesick for from our lives back in Queens was our two little oddball Chihuahuas, Patti and Moose.


From our first afternoon at my aunt’s home on, Luna pursued and hoarded our affections, crawling into our bed to nap curled up between us and chasing off their other dog, a lumbering yet gentle German Shepard named Tango, whenever he attempted to enter our room. With a familiar light of demented acumen in her eyes, and a sweet, yet truly weird disposition akin to that of our own pups (I am convinced that Chihuahuas come with their heads already creatively wired when they’re born) she’d nudge our hands with her muzzle the moment we paused in our petting of her. She truly helped, and I’d often find myself singing this song to her in a mock mellifluous voice:

Luna de margarita es

Como tu luz

Como tu voz

Y como tu amor


Admittedly, my first contact with this tonada by Simón Díaz came from Devendra Banhart, with his much more spectral version released on 2005’s brilliant Cripple Crow.

Devendra Banhart with collaborators Andy Cabic, Noah Georgeson, and Thom Monahan. (Photo by Autumn de Wilde).

However, I’ve since grown to adore the original, released on the LP Caracha Negro in 1966, where Díaz is backed by harp player Hugo Blanco and his band.

Hugo Blanco y Su Conjunto

Born in Venezuela on August 8, 1928, Díaz is hugely responsible for the development and continued popularity of the traditional music of the llanos, which are the vast grasslands that span from Venezuela into the plains of Colombia. He would eventually go on to apply his sweet tenor and pleasant face to a popular children’s show, forever after being known by generations of Venezuelans as Tio Simón, or “Uncle Simón.” As for me, whenever I hear “Luna de Margarita” I will forever think fondly of that sweet pup and the warm home where I met her.





Well, there you have it—the conclusion to Volume 1 of my special two-part mix, El Ambiente Bien Babes Y Bean de Uruguay. If all goes according to plan, the post for Volume 2 should be a much more bare-bones affair; so, come on back in a month or so for the second and final installment. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself!

———————-BOBBY CALERO———————————–


Alejandro Fatur (Poster.) (2009, Mar. 5). Yellow Submarine (Chamame ) La Fragua – de los Andes a los Bealtes [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idJDmC6EQsI

Carlin, P. A. (2006). Catch A Wave: the rise, fall & redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale.

Carroll, J. (1993). Fear Of Dreaming. U.S.: Penguin.

Cobain, K. (1993). Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle. [Nirvana] on In Utero [CD]. DGC Records. (1993).

Gleason, R. J.  (Producer). (2006). Dylan Speaks: the legendary 1965 press conference in San Francisco. [Motion Picture]. New York: Eagle Media.

Hevia Cosculluela, M. (1981). Pasaporte 11333: ocho años con la CIA. Presencia Latinoamericana.

Heylin, C. (2009). Revolution in the air : the songs of Bob Dylan 1957-1973. 1st ed Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press.

Lead, D. (1990). Smiley Smile [Liner notes]. In Smiley Smile [CD]. Hollywood: Capitol Records, Inc.

Leone, D. (2004, Sept. 28). Brian Wilson: Smile. Pitchfork. Retrieved from http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/8781-smile/

Linett, M. (2001). Track-by-Track Notes [Liner notes]. In Pet Sounds [CD]. Hollywood: Capitol Records, Inc.

Lion Production. (2006). Eduardo Mateo [Liner notes]. In Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame [CD]. Geneva, Il: Lion Production.

Lion Production. (2006). El Kinto [Liner notes]. In El Kinto [CD]. Geneva, Il: Lion Production.

Lion Production. (2011). Miguel Y El Comité [Liner notes]. In Para Hacer Musica, Para Hacer   [CD]. Geneva, Il: Lion Production.

MacDonald, I. (2007). Revolution in the head: The Beatles’ records and the sixties (3rd ed.). Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review Press.

Nahum, B. (1991). El Fin Del Uruguay Liberal. Ediciones de la Banda Oriental.

Olle, N. (2012, April 10). Disappeared In Uruguay. BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/disappeared-in-uruguay/172/


Patar, P. (2001, Sept. 2). Dan Mitrione, un maestro de la tortura. Clarin. Retrieved from: http://edant.clarin.com/diario/2001/09/02/i-03101.htm

Peláez, F. (2004). De Las Cuevas Al Solis. Vol 2. Perro Andaluz ediciones.

Ramos, H. (2004). Jorge Cafrune : memorias de un hombre libre. Córdoba: Del Copista

Plath, S. (2000). The unabridged journals. K. V. Kukil (Ed.). New York, NY: Anchor.

Richardson, D. (2004, October 28). Wilson’s Smile: Brian Wilson finally finishes his “teenage symphony to God.” The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/Wilson-s-SMiLE-Brian-Wilson-finally-finishes-2678579.php

Rosenbaum, R. (1978, March). The Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan. Playboy.  p. 69.

Tornatore, V. (2007). Montevideo Blues [Liner notes]. In Montevideo Blues [CD]. Geneva, Il: Lion Production.

Wilde, O. (1980). The Wit and Humor of Oscar Wilde. Alvin Redman (Ed.). New York: Dover.

Zolof, E. (2011). Shakers And Mockers: Uruguay’s Place In Latin Rock History. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/altlatino/2011/07/25/137627714/shakers-and-mockers-uruguays-place-in-latin-rock-history


“Les Alyscamps: Falling Autumn Leaves,” Vincent van Gogh, November 1888.

The Fall officially began a few days ago and so I have a two-for for you today; both tracks concerned with the theme of women letting their love come down.

Up first is an artist who inexplicably is not a household name. Working extensively with the top-notch writing and production team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter—who at the time served as the prolific house composers for Stax Records—and backed by such legendary musicians as guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, and drummer Al Jackson, Jr. (all members of Booker T. & the M.G.’s), how an artist as talented as Ruby Johnson failed to hit it big is beyond me.

Isaac Hayes & David Porter in the studio.

Booker T and the MGs in 1970; from left to right: Al Jackson, Jr.; Booker T. Jones; Donald “Duck” Dunn; and Steve Cropper.

When it came time to lend her distinctive contralto vocal style to these compositions, Ruby was willing to explore the full emotional range of each song. At the prefect moment Ruby could thrust her immense and torn voice forward through the melody and let it hang there raw and ragged as a display of her sincere investment in the material, which too few singers have the ability to convey. She actually attributed her trademark sound to her enthusiasm and work ethic: “I think a lot of that came from actually being on the hoarse side at that particular time. I didn’t get to go to Stax often, and when I did get down there to record, we worked hard. We were in the studio all day and half the night” (Perrone, 1999).

Born April 19, 1936 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Ruby Johnson was raised in the Jewish faith and began singing alongside her eight brothers and sisters in the Temple Beth-El choir. Upon finishing high school, Ruby began performing with local rhythm and blues bands in Virginia Beach and Washington DC while supporting herself as a waitress. Her career came to be managed by local entrepreneur Never Duncan Junior who subsequently hired the talented Dicky Williams to serve as arranger/producer for her recordings. In 1960 they began to release a series of 45s, first on the Philadelphia-based V-Tone label, and eventually for her manager’s own NEBS Records (Sir Shambling, 2012).

Al Bell (Photo by Josh Anderson for The New York Times)

While working for Washington DC station WLOK, disc-jockey Al Bell had been an early proponent of Ruby Johnson’s music. When Stax hired him as its first in-house promotional manager in 1965, Bell helped Ruby secure a contract with the preeminent label for Southern Soul. Al Bell himself would go on to own Stax during the label’s ’70s heyday; unfortunately, it was under his leadership that the company was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 1975 (Sontag, 2009). Her 45s now being issued on the Stax subsidiary label, Volt, Ruby later recalled that she was “[…] very excited, very nervous, because that was my first attempt to record on that level. […] They would give me those songs on a piece of paper and say: ‘here’s the lyric.’ We would sort of run over them to let me get familiar with the words, and then we’d say: ‘let’s do a take.’ We were in there for hours sometimes” (Perrone, 1999).

Although several of her records sold fairly well, her recording career never seemed to reflect her great talent and a good deal of Johnson’s Stax sessions remained in the vaults until 1993, when the compilation I’ll Run Your Hurt Away was released. Ruby Johnson eventually quit the music business in 1974 and went on to be the director of Foster Grandparents, a federal program helping handicapped children relate to older generations. Although she continued to sing twice a week at Temple Beth-El near her home in Lanham, Maryland, Ruby admitted to missing the old days: “Every time I see some of those big shows, I long for it sometimes, I really do. I enjoyed what I was doing. […] I always aspired to be a professional singer, even as a child” (Perrone, 1999). Sadly, Ruby Johnson passed away at the age of 63 on July 4, 1999.

When My Love Comes Down” is as fine an example of Ruby Johnson’s talent as you can get, and certainly one of the best 45s ever issued by Stax. Released as the flip-side to the tender ballad “Come To Me My Darling” on October 19, 1966, “When My Love Comes Down” features a gentle melody played on the organ (either by Booker T. or Isaac Hayes) exquisitely contrasted with the punch and pierce of Steve Cropper’s chopped guitar and the The Memphis Horns‘ emotive blare; all-the-while Ruby’s intense vocals alternately smolder, swagger, or just plain tear at the seams.


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Evelyn “Champagne” King

Up next: Although this track could perhaps be considered lighter fare than the above, Evelyn “Champagne” King’s #1 R&B hit “Love Come Down,” off her certified double platinum album of 1982, Get Loose, is another fine example of superb arrangement and production value, albeit from a completely different approach.

There’s a certain simmer and bounce to the streamlined synth-funk of this song that makes it stand-out against the assembly-line beats that began to dominate the digitally recorded music of the 1980s. Unlike the majority of music in this category, here is a dance song that is still permitted to have character.

Written by the multi-talented Kashif—a pioneer of hypnotic synth grooves and guitar sheen—he shared production duties with Morrie Brown. When Get Loose was released Evelyn King was in the midst of a somewhat career comeback, as she was crossing over from Disco to R&B. Born in the Bronx on July 1, 1960 but raised in Philadelphia, her career has a bit of a storybook beginning. A 16-year-old Evelyn was working as an office cleaner at Philadelphia International Records when producer Theodore T. Life who had overheard her singing in a washroom discovered her (Hogan, 2012). She was eventually signed to RCA Records and had a string of hits with the label. With its slippery, yet coiled bass-line, up-beat vocals, and quirky chimes and blips it is not difficult to imagine this song as a precursor to Prince’s brilliant B-side of 1984, “Erotic City.” Enjoy a bit of bouncing around with this number, and hopefully this autumn will treat you all right.


Like it? Buy it.

——————————————–Bobby Calero————————


Hayes, I. & Porter, D. (1966). When My Love Comes Down [recorded by Ruby Johnson] On I’ll Run Your Hurt Away [CD] Volt (1966), Stax (1993).

Hogen, E. (2012). Evelyn “Champagne” King: Biography. Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/evelyn-champagne-king/bio/76577

Kashif. (1982). Love Come Down [recorded by Evelyn King] On Get Loose [CD] RCA (1982), BBR (2010).

Perrone, P. (1999, September 10). Obituary: Ruby Johnson. The Independent. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-ruby-johnson-1117495.html.

Ridley, J. (2012). Ruby Johnson. Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.sirshambling.com/artists_2012/J/ruby_johnson/index.php

Sontag, D. (2009, August 14). Out of Exile, Back in Soulsville. The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/arts/music/16sont.html.


Ween’s demon/god mascot, the Boognish

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Aaron Freeman—better known as Gene Ween, who along with compatriot/collaborator/soul-mate Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo) form the core for the overwhelmingly talented band Ween—has stated that after a 25 year run, “It’s time to move on. I’m retiring Gene Ween” (Levin, 2012).

“For me it’s a closed book. In life sometimes,

in the universe, you have to close some doors

to have others open. There’s no, ‘Goddamn that

such and such!’ For me, I’d like to think it’s a

door I can close finally” (Levin, 2012).

Although he implied that this break-up was more than amicable, for me this is sad news as for over the past quarter of a century Ween has consistently released some of the most interesting music out there. Due to their eclectic, inclusive, and experimental approach to songwriting, compounded by their absurd sense of humor, this duo has too often been disregarded as a novelty act—as kitsch—despite being obvious virtuoso multi-instrumentalists with a love for every genre of music.

Musical soul mates Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo met in an eighth grade typing class in New Hope, Pennsylvania and in the late eighties began self-releasing their home-recordings as Ween in a series of cassettes with such titles as Axis: Bold as Boognish, Erica Peterson’s Flaming Crib Death, and The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD.

Released on Twin/Tone Records in 1990, their official debut GodWeenSatan: The Oneness would feature one of my favorite tracks, the funk-vamp tribute to Prince, “L.M.L.Y.P.” In a live setting (I’ve been fortunate to catch one of their epic three-hour shows) this nine minutes long song has been known to be extended to upwards of thirty-minutes. To find out what the acronym L.M.L.Y.P. stands for just click the link below:



Like it? Buy it.

In 1992, Ween’s third album, Pure Guava, would produce their highest charting single, “Push th’ Little Daisies” which gained frequent rotation on MTV by being featured on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. However, it wasn’t until this album’s follow-up—the John Candy dedicated Chocolate and Cheese—that I truly began to appreciate this duo’s “unique brand of drug-damaged, genre-jumping pop” (Eye Weekly, 2007). An album highlight—and perhaps the track most responsible for hooking my psyche into tune with what Ween is all about—is the anxious acoustic song about seeing an ex-girlfriend that once nearly destroyed you: “Baby Bitch.” With lyrics like, “Got fat, got angry, started hating myself,” the title isn’t so much humor as it is just human honesty. In November of 2007, the Village Voice’s Rob Harvilla conducted an interview with Dean Ween in which they discussed how, incredulously, the public and critics alike can dismiss their emotional sincerity, particularly when confronted with something as wrenching and candid as “Baby Bitch.”

“‘Our stuff is mostly autobiographical,’ [Dean] says, calling

in from his fishing spot on Long Beach Island. ‘People don’t

get that at all. Not just some records—all of them. Aaron

[Gene Ween] has written a lot of beautiful love songs. Some

of our best songs are some of his love songs. And it’s funny,

for the first few records, to hear people say that we do spot-on

parodies of love songs. We can’t write a fuckin’ love song? It

has to be making fun of a love song? It can’t just be judged for

what it is? How come we have that tag stuck to us? Because we

switch styles of music, we’re not afraid to play around?

“Consider “Baby Bitch,” from 1994’s beloved

breakthrough Chocolate and Cheese. It’s a willowy, somber,

acoustic kiss-off. Sample lyrics: ‘Baby baby baby bitch/I’m

better now, please fuck off.’ Dean thinks it gets a bad rap.

‘I remember what it was about—it’s about a breakup. I

remember how hard it was on him, and how well he was

able to articulate his pain or whatever in that song. I think

that was the first time I can really remember reading that

sort of thing about us, like, ‘Oh, it’s a parody of some kind

of Bob Dylan breakup song.’ Like, what the fuck are you

talkin’ about?” (Harvilla, 2007).

Chocolate and Cheese

————————————–(CLICK TO LISTEN

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Another highlight off Chocolate and Cheeseis the R&B Soul number, “Freedom of ’76” for which Spike Jonze directed the following video:

On May 2, 2000, Ween would release their 7th album, and one that I consider just brilliant through-and-through: White Pepper. Check out their brilliant jazz inflected (in the vein of Steely Dan) “Pandy Fackler.”

———————————————(CLICK TO LISTEN

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The album’s single, the slice of pop-perfection that is “Even If You Don’t” would be released as a video directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park and The Book of Mormon fame). Just listen to Dean’s sweet guitar shredding!

It seems that in light of Gene’s announcement that 2007’s La Cucaracha will be Ween’s last LP release. One track off this album that seems to jut out from the rest is the Dean Ween penned irate anthem “With My Own Bare Hands.”

————————————–(CLICK TO LISTEN

Like it? Buy it.

“When I’m really, really, really inspired to write is when I’m really fuckin’ pissed off” said Dean Ween, “When I met my wife, she was aspiring to be a teacher—we’ve been together 17 years, we’ve been married 11 years. She had just gotten out of college, and she had to get her teaching credentials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, then she went and got her master’s degree. And then I ended up having to pay off these student loans—and then, just about the time it was all said and done, we had a baby and she quit and, like, never worked again. Meanwhile, I’m paying off these student loans. I was really pissed off at her, so I wrote that song, and that”s where that verse [She’s gonna be my cock professor, studyin’ my dick/She’s gonna get her master’s degree in fuckin’ me] comes from (Harvilla, 2007).

La Cucaracha closes with the group [plus smooth-jazz saxophonist David Sanborn) thanking a friend for having them at their lovely party, and I’d like to say the same to them:

We Had The Best Time At Your Party

————————————————(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

—————-Bobby Calero————–


Eye Weekly. (2007, Oct. 25). Ween interview. Eye Weekly. Retrieved from http://bilton.wordpress.com/2007/11/01/ween-interview-eye-weekly-102507/

Harvilla, R. (2007, Nov. 6). Sincerely Yours. Village Voice. Retrieved from http://www.villagevoice.com/content/printVersion/211814/

Levin, D. (2012, May 29). Aaron Freeman Closes the Book on Ween. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/aaron-freeman-closes-the-book-on-ween-20120529

Ween, G. & Ween, D. (1989). L.M.L.Y.P. [Recorded by Ween] On GodWeenSatan: The Oneness [CD] Twin/Tone Records (1990).

Ween, G. & Ween, D. (1994). Baby Bitch [Recorded by Ween] On Chocolate and Cheese [CD] Elektra (1994).

Ween, G. & Ween, D. (2000). Pandy Fackler [Recorded by Ween] On White Pepper [CD] Elektra (2000).

Ween, G. & Ween, D. (2007). With My Own Bare Hands [Recorded by Ween] On La Cucaracha [CD] Rounder Records (2007).

Ween, G., Ween, D., & Spike Jonze (1994). (Creators). ilikepie37 (Poster) (2009, Jul. 26). Ween – Freedom of ’76. Retrieved May 31, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_vsJuxYGwg

Ween, G., Ween, D., Parker, T., & Stone, M. (2000). (Creators). rebirthday (Poster) 2006, Mar. 25) Ween – Even If You Don’t. Retrieved May 31, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yarfOFdopQ0