Friday, April 22, 2005

La Bomba

We huddled round a square,
Turquoise 45 record player
and listened again, and again,
and again, and again
to Ritchie Valens rocking out in Spanish,
pushed against plastic
to slow down the record.

Ears flat to the speaker,
we listened for cuss words tangled up in wild rhythms
and incomprehensible words —

“There!” we’d stop and play it backwards, forwards, finding --
who knows what we found.

We didn’t know it was a huapango, a folk dance, full
of nonsense and revolution, like las calaveras,

the skeleton rhymes sent round on el dia de los muertos,
saying the mayor died choking on a cardboard taco,
the priest tripped over his third leg -- and died, or the
governor and a goat died -- stealing our vote.

We fell in love with the revolution in La Bamba —
more radical than the Chicago DJ, Dick Bionti,
who told everyone to take a bath
at the same time one Saturday nite,
which meant something besides “bath”
but not to us, not yet,
and we had no idea what a revolution was.

But we played La Bamba over and over again,
and again, and again, la, ba, la, ba, la ba Bamba
and we danced, and danced.
You couldn’t play it just once.
You had to get up and dance, dance and
laugh at everyone making up bla bamba
jiberish with cuss words tucked in.

So decades later
I can't take my eyes off Lou Diamond
playing Richie Valens.
The acting sucks, the but music —
I'll watch, and watch again until the song comes

Para bailar La Bamba,
Para bailar La Bamba, se necessita una poca de gracia

Una poca de gracia, para mi, para ti,
Ay arriba arriba
Ay arriba arriba,

The revolution turns
against time from the south.
Get up, get up and dance!

©Susan Bright, 2005.

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

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Blogger Charlie Loving said...

"Memories are made of this."

This posting led me expound on the film I saw last night.

"La vida no vale nada" (Life is not worth a thing). The story told in ancient stills, mostly and with music along with a well spaced interviews of participants in the life of Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Jomenez a child prodigy who at age ten was singing and writing songs and working as a bus boy. His poetry was to become the bedrock of the Mexican Ranchera sound. Which is a window to the soul of Mexican culture.

He wrote the lyrics but he couldn't play any instruments so he just whistled the tune and someone else wrote it down. His songs are poems, he is looked upon as a philosopher an intellectual who never knew he was one. His poetry is amazing. He could put in one line the whole of the sadness and happiness of the Mexican the faltalism that is one of the corner stones of the culture.

I have heard his music for years and years done by other artists and never new who the father of those songs were.

Jimenez is dead. He died of too much tequilla and whiskey. Like many great artists. He had according to his pals over 90 girls friends and a loyal wife and a couple of kids. His love songs are larger than life. As his wife said, "How could women not love this man for he sang to their soul."

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the la bomba piece. I had never heard of Susan Bright. I have enjoyed every piece of hers that you have posted. Thanks.

4:04 PM  

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