AM:PM playlist - The Trades
Because the 2022 edition of Music Meeting Festival is partly devoted to Cuban music and culture, Music Meeting All Ears has entered into an exclusive co-production with digital Cuban music magazine AM:PM. This playlist is one of the results of this collaboration.
The Trades in 20 Cuban songs
This is not just any playlist. This is a tribute of Cuban music to all the trades and professions in the world. Every May 1st, millions of people march for the vindication of social and labor rights. These marches are accompanied by a soundtrack to which we would like to add a little flavor in the form of Cuban songs that have working-class people as the protagonists of their stories. Let's plug in our headphones and dance to the rhythm of the street.
1. El Manisero - Composer: Moisés Simons; Interpreter: Arsenio Rodríguez y su Conjunto
In a place in San Leopoldo, the most famous Cuban street cry of all times was composed. Surviving the evolutionary leaps of Cuban music, it continues to be covered ad nauseam. Just as the figure of the peanut vendor, that survives in any urban agglomeration.
2. Canción del viejo obrero - Grupo de Experimentación Sonora
This 1971 song is a celebration of the emancipation of the proletariat, thanks to education. The beauty of the arrangement and the optimism of the lyrics almost makes us forget that these were the same years in which the parametración was taking a hold on the Cuban work environment.
3. Blues del boxeador - Carlos Varela
The melancholy of the boxer whose glory days are in the past, fully captures whoever listens to this blues by Carlos Varela. Blues del boxeador carries the sadness of someone who, accustomed to medals and photos in the newspapers, returns home to be forgotten.
4. El cuentapropista - Paulo FG y su Élite
This tasty timba stars a self-employed man who makes pizzas, is a confectioner, a sheet metal worker, or a blacksmith. Chapeau to the composer, who gets people to dance while chanting words like business, quality, control, sale, product, and opportunity!
5. Tito el taxista - Juan Formell y Los Van Van
The story of "El buena gente" incarnated, when a cab driver in the '80s came to Los Van Van. In a time where he decided upon the route, cab driver Tito paid the consequences of being overly helpful. In the form of a classic songo mixed with slap & pop bass, the song still sounds fresh today.
6. El viandero - Irakere
It doesn't hurt to take refuge in this delightful street cry. The elegant tumba'o in the background and unbeatable brass section in this song, demonstrate what Irakere can do with salsa. After all, the band is one of the intellectual mothers of timba.
7. El dulcero - Composer. Ernesto Lecuona; Interpreter: Bola de Nieve
The distinctive voice of Bola de Nieve gives life to this piece. When, with a piano sounding in the background, Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernández says: "I bring the little sweet meringue / that are like little kisses / sweeter than love," it makes you want to taste the domestic delicacies.
8. El Cocinero - Giraldo Piloto y Klímax
This song uses the figure of the cook as a metaphor for the "daddy" in a couple's relationship. With clever twists, the song clarifies the supposed misunderstandings: "Throw it to the frying pan, throw it to the cauldron so that it all burns... The frying pan is my arms, the cauldron is my skin....”
9. El barrendero - Orquesta Original de Manzanillo
Cándido Fabré composed a song for one of the most essential and least recognized workers: the one who "gets up early in the morning” and is “not afraid of seeing his muddy hand". Thanks to the street sweeper we can be disgusted by dirt, and remember Fabré with a tasty song.
10. Afilador - X Alfonso
Hip hop meets guaguancó in this sixth track of Revoluxion (Egrem, 2007). X Alfonso asks us not to stop. And to love. Between taps, the characteristic sound of the itinerant sharpener who goes around the neighborhoods offering services to grind knives, scissors, razors, and other cutting instruments bursts in.
11. El maletero - Enrique Jorrín
This tasty samba/chachachá, starts off with the rhythmic whistles of locomotives. It is dedicated to the baggage handler, who used to work at train stations. With a very modern brass arrangement (for the time) and the unmistakable flute of Richard Egües, you can even imagine the suitcases dancing around.
12. El Enfermero - Orquesta Aragón
El Enfermero is another rich chachachá, in which Rafael Lay and Néstor Milí give the health professional precise instructions to give an injection to "la muchacha del 15" (the girl of the 15th). The song incorporates - as was usual in Cuban popular music of the time - elements of mischief in the lyrics: "Nurse, be careful, she has never had an injection".
13. Canción de la Maestra y el Herrero - Pedro Luis Ferrer
This song is a poetic counterpoint between two professions: the teacher, who molds the children of the future and the blacksmith who shapes the things of our daily lives. The unexpected ending of the story and the beauty of the harmony make this song indispensable on this list.
14. Carnicero - Ramón David
We miss Trova. Arriving at La Casa de la Bombilla Verde, listening to Ramón David. The adventures of Mirta with Andrés, "active and brave butcher", are just the pretext of the singer-songwriter to deploy all the picturesque inventiveness and creole humor that characterize him.
15. El panquelero - Abelardo Barroso y la Orquesta Sensación
This 1950s hit is one of the most widespread Cuban street cries of all time. Through the high presence of street cries, in the daily life of the first half of the 20th century it was eventually labeled as a musical genre.
16. El billetero del 33 - Bienvenido Granda y La Sonora Matancera
Bienvenido Granda’s "el bigote que canta" (“the singing mustache”), one of the many performers linked to La Sonora Matancera, tells the story of an unlucky lottery vendor that fails to sell his raffles. Scenes of past times show how gambling and vices have generated new professions.
17. Pare Cochero - Composer Marcelino Guerra, Miguel A. Banguela; Interpreter Típica ‘73
If you grew up in Cuba or if you like Cuban music, you've hardly escaped any of the countless versions of this classic by Marcelino Guerra with lyrics by Miguel A. Banguela. This version, with Tito Allen on vocals, is a tribute to all the charangas and horse-drawn carriage drivers of our lives.
18. Yerberito moderno - Composer Néstor Mili; Interpreter Celia Cruz
This is one of the songs Celia Cruz is most remembered for. The figure of the yerbero (herbalist) has been recurrent in Cuban music, as a reflection of the popular religiosity of the Cuban people and their faith in traditional medicine. There is no evil that lasts a hundred years, nor a herb that does not cure it.
19. El peletero - Orquesta Sublime
“They are supposed to be cheap, but at the same time they should fit me softly so that they can be used to dance the chachachá.” While describing the shoes she needs, "La Sublime" shows that the chachachá was the genre that honored professions the most. Short tunes, with similar arrangements and the flute setting the pace, kept the dancers on the dance floor until they lost the soles of their shoes.
20. El carretero - Composer Guillermo Portabales; Interpreter Eliades Ochoa
Just as Guillermo Portabales is one of the kings of the guajira, Eliades Ochoa is the perfect interpreter for this song. When he sings: “I am a peasant and a cart driver / and I live well in the countryside / because the countryside is the most beautiful / Eden in the whole world,” it becomes clear that there is no artist more proud of his roots than Eliades.