Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Hasta Siempre" CHE GUEVARA

Over the years, while idiot girl scouts, overenthused folkies, and other sweaty detritus were shouting "Guantanemera" at cozy suburban hootenannies, or jumping up and down while Ritchie Valens sang "La Bamba," others were somberly listening to "Hasta Siempre," a song about Che Guevara, who in 1967 was executed in Bolivia. In the past 40 years it's had many cover versions. Cuban songwriter Carlos Puebla's song was always big in Latin countries, but probably the song didn't get much attention in Europe until Nathalie Cardone's 1999 version (complete with rock video). She recently issued a new take on it, which was issued on a CD as a bonus track to her first single in nine years, "Yo Soy Rebelde." A 2003 version by the Buena Vista Social Club removed Fidel Castro from the last line, changing "Y con Fidel" to "Y con Cuba."
While history now presents a view of Che and a view of Fidel that is less than glamorous, among many it's still very hip and cool to think of Guevara as that darkly handsome revolutionary who, if he did anything wrong, did it for the right reasons. The song literally translates as "Until Always," an idiomatic way of saying "now and forever." Basically the lyrics are mundane platitudes of devotion, but the strong minor key melody gives it power:
"We learned to love...Commandante Che Guevara...Your glorious and strong hand fires at history...You come burning the winds with spring suns to plant your flag with the light of your smile. Your revolutionary love leads you to a new undertaking where they are awaiting the firmness of your liberating arm. We will carry on as we did along with you. And with Fidel we say to you: Until Always, Commandante!"
You get five versions of "Hasta Siempre." There's Oscar Chavez, Francesco Guccini & Nomadi, Soledad Bravo, Nathalie Cardone and Victor Jara. The last two names may be familar to you. The song was on Cardone's only album (1999) which was produced by Laurent Boutonnat, best known for his work with Mylene Farmer. And Victor Jara was the famous folk singer and martyr from Chile, a beloved compatriot of Phil Ochs (for whom this blog is obscurely named) who was tortured and killed for performing one protest song too many.

1 comment:

DCDance said...

Hi there! I've just found Your blog, searching for the versions of "Hasta Siempre" songs...
All the materials You present are fabulous and amazingly original. Made a bookmark:)
The thing is - the rapidshare link to the songs here is dead - and now I am dying in need of Victor Jara version, and the others as well...

Could You pelase re-upoad them somehow?