Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rights Rhythm: Spain in My Heart




Last week I kicked off our discussion of Rebecca Pawel's Watcher in the Pine with Pete Seeger's take on the Spanish Civil War song 'Viva La Quinte Brigada.' How about we close out with a little more music? This is from an album of contemporary musicians putting their spin on anthems of the era, Spain in My Heart: Songs of the Spanish Civil War. The album includes Pete and Arlo Guthrie singing Woody Guthrie's song 'Jarama Valley', another version of 'Viva La Quinte Brigada' by East LA natives Queztal and the always inspiring Lila Downs (see video above) with 'El Quinto Regimiento.'

The idealistic appeal of "fighting the good fight" against the fascist troops of General Francisco Franco as he warred against Spain’s democratically elected government drew more than 45,000 volunteer soldiers from over 50 countries during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). This influx created a canon of war-related songs sung by the freedom fighters and revived during the American folk boom of the Fifties. Rather than emulating the strident chaos of battle, the CD conveys more subtle aspects of the conflict – yearning for simpler times ("Asturias," "En La Plaza De Mi Pueblo"); longing for distant loved ones ("The Bantry Girls’ Lament"); the equal significance of life, love and death ("Lleg√≥ Con Tres Heridas"). The war and the bravery of the anti-fascist forces are addressed in such songs as "Jarama Valley," "El Quinto Regimiento," "Taste of Ashes," and "The Abraham Lincoln Brigade." No matter in what language the songs are performed, the bravery, pain and loss felt by soldiers and civilians alike are rendered with a conviction and feeling that transcends words and forges an aching link with the listener.
Sample more tracks from the album below.


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