America United, A New National Anthem

America United

O beautiful for spacious skies
And amber waves of grain,
With purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
United people we,
In brotherhood
With worldwide good,
Our solidarity!

O beautiful for glorious tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly for love’s avail
Some gave up precious life!
America! America!
United people we
Till selfish gain
no longer stain
The banner of the free!




My Favorite Classics

This article originally appeared as:

My Favorite Classics
30 July 2012



•   History Of The Peloponnesian War (~411 BC), by Thucydides (English translation by Rex Warner, Penguin Books)

A coolly analytical and psychologically probing account of the 5th century BC war between Athens and Sparta. War is the continuation of politics by violent means. Thucydides’s insights on the hows and whys of war and rebellion: democracy devolving to demagoguery, subversion, mutiny, revolt, atrocities, revolution, conquest, dictatorship, alliances, balance of power, foreign intervention, hegemony, and overreach, are timeless. This is a book for the ages.

•   The Three Musketeers (1844), by Alexandre Dumas (English translation)

This sparkling novel is the combination of a hero tale of a young man vanquishing opposition to gain an honored place in society, with a friendship tale of men bonded by “one for all and all for one” while maneuvering around the political intrigues of their nation’s first minister and shadow ruler, to maintain their personal honor and rescue that of their spoiled and indolent royal patrons, by relying on their valor and swordsmanship. Glorious.

•   The Brothers Karamazov (1880), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (English translation)

This is a passionate philosophical novel about the moral struggles and ethical conflicts erupting through the love affairs, hunt for wealth, spiritual quests, cognitive dissonances, and crimes of the three (or four) Karamazov brothers and their dissolute father; and an expansive intricate meditation on the fracturing of the medieval Christian mysticism of the Russian psyche impacted by 19th century industrialization, and the seepage of rationalism and nihilism in through the fissures. Epic and probing.

•   Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1884), by Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Mark Twain wrote that “a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience,” and Huckleberry Finn is “a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat.” Because of his innate good character and his beneficial friendship with Jim, an escaped slave, the adolescent Huckleberry Finn comes to see black slavery and its enabling racism as morally wrong despite their being treated as upright and legally essential to American society, by the white adults of his time. This is the quintessential American novel, scintillating and funny, still fresh, still relevant, still controversial.

•   The Rebel (1951), by Albert Camus (English translation of L’Homme révolté by Anthony Bower, Vintage, 1991)

This book is a philosophy of politics exploring the idea and attitude of rebellion throughout European history. Once you rebel at allowing a particular injustice to continue, you become increasingly open to rebelling against the continuation of other injustices. This expansion of rebelliousness as a consequence of increasing awareness of injustices distinguishes the archetypal socialist from his opposite, the archetypal Tory, whose mind shuts out sympathy to remain focused on the personal association with privileging power. Allowing increased awareness of injustices to expand your rebelliousness against the powers that are indifferent to them, or cause them, brings you into community with the bulk of humanity: “I rebel, therefore we exist.”

•   The Way Of Zen (1957), by Alan Watts

A book of organic completeness, elegant clarity, and absorbing calmness on the historical development of Zen Buddhism, and the expression of its practice through the arts and as a personal attitude. Buddhist insight about the human condition emerged from Hinduism, unfolded with breathtaking expansiveness as the Mahayana school, spread from the Indian subcontinent throughout southeast Asia and north past the Himalayas to Tibet and China, where it combined with Taoism to produce the Chan Buddhism of the Tang Dynasty, and spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan as Zen Buddhism, the thoughtless direct experience of enlightenment. Refreshing.


•   Le Nozze Di Figaro (1786), music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte

The Marriage of Figaro is an effervescent comic opera on the wiles of the servants Figaro and his fiancé Susanna to thwart the philandering intent of their master, Count Almaviva, which threatens their wedding and their prospects for continued employment, as well as grieving Countess Almaviva. After a day of madness, all ends well. Da Ponte’s witty and politically clever adaptation of Pierre Beaumarchais’s play is spirited along by Mozart’s gloriously frothy and tuneful music, a masterpiece of art.

•   Variations And Fugue On A Theme By Handel, Opus 24 (1861), solo piano music by Johannes Brahms

Brahms invented a little Baroque theme for the piano, attributing it to George Frideric Handel, and then spun a glorious series of variations on it. Every tempo and musical mood is encountered here, from sparkling songbird-like warbling one could imagine in a Rococo landscape as painted by Watteau, to the ponderous pulsations of the dark lower depths of the collective unconscious of late 19th century Europe, when God died giving birth to psychology, Marxism, evolution, and quantum physics.

•   La Bohème (1896), music by Giacomo Puccini, libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacoso

The second half of Act 1, when Mimi and Rodolfo meet and fall in love, carried along by waves of the lushest romantic music ever composed, which swirls and swells through arias (Che gelida manina, and Sì, mi chiamano Mimì) and duets (O soave fanciulla) of wondrous melodic lyricism, can lift an appreciative listener out of the deadening banality of the routine, gladdening the heart and flooding the mind with the intrinsic beauty of life. The entire opera is a cascade of music as effulgent as the splendor and heartache of love itself.

•   Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook (1956), vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, orchestra conducted and arranged by Buddy Bregman, songs composed by Cole Porter

Cole Porter’s tunefully witty songs seem to say all that can be said about living and loving in the modern America that burst out of the 1920s and raced through a turbulent 20th century. Ella Fitzgerald was the unparalleled jazz and American popular song vocalist of that century. With Ella, the words are always so clear, the emotion so simple and direct, the voice so pure, warm, radiant and natural, and the song is always perfect.

•   West Side Story (1957), musical conceived and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, film version (1961) produced and directed by Robert Wise

Romeo and Juliet replayed in 1950s Upper West Side Manhattan, a musical theatre production with high-energy singer-dancers giving life to lyrics, music, and dance that are too cool to be classical, too classical to be pop, and too with-it to ever get old. In this retelling of the tale, Romeo Montague is a Polish-American boy, Tony, whose family-of-the-streets is the white boy gang, The Jets. The Juliet Capulet here is Maria, a Puerto Rican girl who, along with many thousands of her people, has migrated from the Island, and whose older brother leads a gang of Puerto Rican turf defenders, The Sharks. It is vivid, taut, rhythmic, and moving.

•   Morrison Hotel (1970), words and music by The Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore)

The flowering of the Baby Boom generation out of its 1960s adolescence and into its first golden years of adulthood was, for many American boy-men of the time, hammered back into itself by the oppressive demands for conscript warriors and national treasure by America’s Vietnam War. I was one the war was reaching to pull in. For me, the intensity of the cognitive dissonance between experiencing the expanding consciousness of maturing youth, awakening to the many possibilities of a long and fruitful life, yet simultaneously confronting the implacable colossus of Death intent to absorb me immediately by war, is captured by the rock and roll and blues music of this unrelenting album by The Doors. Spellbinding.


•   The Maltese Falcon (1941), by John Huston, with: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Jr.

Unraveling a good yarn based on Dashiell Hammett’s detective novel of the same name, The Maltese Falcon has a taut screenplay unreeled at a fast pace, memorable characters, wit, mystery, suspense, action, and a hero possessing an admirable toughness of character. An unequalled American film classic that is impossible to duplicate.

•   Casablanca (1942), by Michael Curtiz, with: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson

The greatest Hollywood movie ever. Why? Because it is about the triumph of character despite the selfish desire for love, and despite the onset of dark times with corrupting ideologies. In this story, a very regular and emotionally-damaged guy comes to realize that maintaining an incorruptible character is his greatest asset. From this, he can redirect his life into a principled fight against the evils of his time, and find fulfillment in that choice even with no guarantee that he and the other defenders of decency, freedom, and human dignity will be successful, or that he will survive. But, we know he will.

•   The Big Sleep (1946), by Howard Hawks, with: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Sonia Darrin, Charles Waldron, Elisha Cook, Jr., Bob Steele, Louis Jean Heydt

A tangled detective story based on Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name, unraveled in a most fascinating way, with lingering ambiguities, and accompanied by many witticisms, spasms of action, and numerous instances of exquisitely-sexual repartee. Perhaps having a future Nobel laureate as one of the screenwriters (William Faulkner) helped produce a film that rewards endless viewing. This is the ultimate hard-boiled detective story, “it has all that the Falcon had, and more.”

•   Seven Samurai (1954), by Akira Kurosawa, with: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki

This cinema masterpiece appeared nine years after Japan’s devastating defeat in the Pacific War and at the start of its four decades of amazing economic growth. In this film, Kurosawa and his collaborators looked to Japan’s past with new postwar eyes and hopes focused on the future. This film’s vitality reflected the resurgence of Japanese society, remembering its cultural wisdom and capacity for endurance as embodied in Zen and samurai traditions, while reinventing itself into a late 20th century Asian Tiger economy. The film itself has a wonderful screenplay, visually stunning photography (Kurosawa shone lights into mirrors and onto faces to make them glow, and dyed the rain black sprayed by fire trucks); and the pacing never falters whether in quiet and intimate scenes, comedy, expansive and majestic scenes, or during the fury and chaos of battle. “This is the nature of war. By protecting others, you save yourself.”

•   Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), by David Lean, with: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Wolfit, I. S. Johar

This is an epic about an Englishman’s romance for adventure ripening into bitter wisdom, by being subjected to the furious heat of desert warfare waged against Turkish artillery and mechanized forces during World War I by Bedouins with handguns on camelback. It is also an epic about “the great game,” the unprincipled schemes of European imperialists to gain control of the sources of the world’s petroleum, and of the related struggles by “the natives,” the many poor, dark-skinned populations living atop subterranean deposits of fossil wealth, to gain their independence. Finally, it is a story about love through companionship, and of the psychological scarring caused by rejection. This film is a glorious widescreen color epic with lush and rapturous music, and a stupendous cast with each member playing his part perfectly. Magnificent.

•   The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), by Richard Lester, with: Oliver Reed, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Lee, Michael York, Raquel Welch, Charlton Heston, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Simon Ward, Geraldine Chaplin, Jean-Pierre Cassel

These two scintillating films are the two halves of the perfect “Three Musketeers” movie. Originally intended to be shown together as a two-part epic, they were released as two separate movies a year apart because of a clash between contractual obligations to exhibitors, and the difficulties of completing the editing of the final product. These films follow Dumas’s novel reasonably closely, for which we are thankful, and the wonderfully written screenplay includes some inventive flourishes that help move the action along briskly and give the films their verve and kick. Oliver Reed at his peak embodies the character of Athos (an unmatched portrayal in my opinion), Faye Dunaway plays the malevolent Milady de Winter with delicious guile and enchantment, Christopher Lee is a superbly menacing Comte de Rochefort, Richard Chamberlain has finally given us a cinema Aramis with the wit of Dumas’s original, and the rest of the cast all play their parts delightfully. For those who love The Three Musketeers, this film is a joy for the ages.



Dvorák – From Johannes Brahms to Duke Ellington

Dvorák’s 9th symphony (From The New World) is wonderful. It sounds so “American,” yet is composed entirely of Bohemian folk themes, though Dvorák listened many times to Harry Burleigh (an African-American) singing Negro Spirituals just for him at the National Conservatory of Music in New York (Burleigh was a student), which Dvorák directed during 1893-1895. Dvorák blended the themes of his homeland into the sound and spirit of the musical America that Burleigh exemplified. As quoted in the New York Herald in 1893, Dvorák said:

“I am now satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called negro melodies. These are the folk songs of America, and your composers must turn to them. … In the negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music. They are pathetic, tender, passionate, melancholy, solemn, religious, bold, merry, gay, or what you will. It is music that suits itself to any mood or any purpose.”

Another of Dvorák’s African-American students at the conservatory was William Marion Cook, a violinist and composer. Cook, along with Fats Waller and Sidney Bechet mentored Duke Ellington in 1915-1916, encouraging the teenage Ellington to take his musical knowledge and talent into public performances (gigs in New York and on the road), and launch a musical career.

Dvorák himself had been discovered, mentored and financially aided by Johannes Brahms, and they remained close friends for the rest of their lives (for Brahms till 1897, for Dvorák till 1904).

(See wikipedia articles for Harry Burleigh, Will Marion Cook, and Duke Ellington).

So, from Brahms to Ellington, by way of Dvorák, Burleigh and Cook.

Dvorák’s New World Inquiry
How a Czech composer helped America find its authentic voice (2004)


Bajo El Sol — Español-English

Bajo El Sol is a song published in 2016 by Diana Gameros, a Mexican woman presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA. Diana Gameros is an independent musical artist (she produces her own recordings), who accompanies her singing with her classical guitar. This song is a nice example of Diana Gameros’s style of music and performance, which I would classify as trova mexicana (Mexican troubadour). Diana Gameros’s published comments about this song are as follows:

“A love letter to the homeland. A song dedicated to all those who have left their country of origin and who, despite of how dark things can be back home, are counting the days until they can see it again.”

“I miss you. I know your body is gray but I can see the little light that still shines on, my dear and wounded lightning bug. I am coming to you soon and when I do, we will help each other heal our wounds, we will bathe in the sun of your truth”


Bajo El Sol
Diana Gameros

entre nosotros hay un río
y novecientos días más
de mi memoria el olvido
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá
quiere arrancarte
pero no podrá

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
te las ofrezco toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida no sobra (*)

traigo debajo del brazo
un libro llenito de historias
buenas, malas, largas, cortas
te las ofrezco toditas
gritan mi pena y mi gloria
hoy te las canto toditas, todas!
hoy que la vida nos sobra
bajo el sol de tu verdad

quiero en mis ojos recuerdos
que me hablen de tu querer
mares y valles de sobra
y yo sin poderlos ver

quiero en mi oído un susurro
vientos que vengan de Uxmal
cantos de aves al aire, libres
que no he podido escuchar
bajo el sol de tu verdad

ni todas las flores marchitas
que abundan en tu jardín
ni el rojo de tu piel quemándose viva
harán que me olvide de ti

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen tu luz
tierna luciérnaga herida
quiero brillar donde brillas tu

y aunque tu cuerpo sea gris
mis ojos distinguen la luz que te queda
tierna luciérnaga mía
juntas nos curaremos la vida
bajo el sol de tu verdad

bajo el sol de tu verdad
bajo el sol de tu verdad


(Lyrics above as posted by Diana Gameros on her YouTube page for “Bajo El Sol.”)


Under Your Sun
(“Bajo el Sol” by Diana Gameros, English translation by MG,Jr.)

A river flows between us two
streaming past nine hundred days
of memories holding you
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able,
that forgetfulness wants to yank
but won’t be able.

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories.
I offer every one to you, all yours!,
today with no living to spare. (*)

Beneath my arm I’m bringing you
a book full to brimming with stories,
good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones,
I offer every one to you, all yours!
They cry out my pains and my glories.
Today I will sing them all to you,
today we have living to spare
under the sun of your truth.

In my eyes I want remembrances
that speak to me of your caring
with oceans and valleys to spare
that now I’ll not be seeing.

In my ear I want to have whispers
of breezes that come from Uxmal,
of songs by birds on the wing, and free,
as I’ve not been able to listen
under the sun of your truth.

Neither all of the faded flowers
that mound up in your garden,
nor your reddening skin burning itself alive,
are able to make me forget you.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light
you tender and wounded firefly.
I want to shine wherever you’re bright.

And even if your body were gray
my eyes could distinguish your light remaining,
my tender firefly, shining.
Together, we’ll cure ourselves living
under the sun of your truth.

Under the sun of your truth,
under the sun of your truth.


(*) If the “no” in “hoy que la vida no sobra” was actually supposed to be “nos”, then the English translation should read: “today we have living to spare.”


My 2016 Christmas Gift To You, World

Let us be grateful:
for music and musicians,
for artists and art,
for poets and lyrics,
for writers of truth.

Let us be grateful:
for life and family,
for companionship and friends,
for wisdom won from experience
and which lingers
long after the pain of getting it has passed.


Here are some items for your enjoyment during the Winter Holidays of 2016:

Personent Hodie – Andrea & Ella
24 December 2014

Walking In The Air – Ella & Rebecca
28 November 2014
Rebecca Scott (starts at right) and Ella Garcia (starts at left)


Palestine’s Gift Of Christmas
22 December 2009 (revised 22 December 2015)

Epiphany On The Glacier
21 November 2007 (revised 28 November 2015)


Dona Nobis Pacem
18 December 2012

“Silver Bells” & “Santa Baby”
18 December 2012

“Walking In The Air” & “My Grown Up Christmas List”
17 December 2012


Juramento — Español-English

[Miguel Matamoros, 1894-1971 (Cuba)]


Si el amor hace sentir hondos dolores
y condena vivir entre miserias,
yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.

(Interludio como la introducción)

Si el amor hace sentir hondos dolores
y condena vivir entre miserias,
yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinitos y negros de mis penas.

(Interludio como la introducción)

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinitos y negros de mis penas.

(Acordes final).


Oath of Love


To be in love can make you feel such deep sorrows
and condemn you to live with many miseries;
and I swear I would give my all for your loving
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling,
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling.

(Interlude, like introduction)

To be in love can make you feel such deep sorrows
and condemn you to live with many miseries;
and I swear I would give my all for your loving
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling,
even the blood from my arteries that is boiling.

I’m pumping out streams of mystical grieving,
and made to drag those weights behind with long chains binding;
and I swear I would drag them through the oceans,
infinite and black with disappointments,
infinite and black with disappointments.

(Interlude, like introduction)

I’m pumping out streams of mystical grieving,
and made to drag those weights behind with long chains binding
and I swear I would drag them through the oceans,
infinite and black with disappointments,
infinite and black with disappointments.

(Final chords)





Si el amor hace () sentir hondos dolores
If the love makes (one) feel deep pains

y condena vivir entre miserias,
and condemns to-live within miseries

yo te diera mi bien por tus amores
I to-you would-give my good for your loves

hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias,
up-to the blood that boils in my arteries

hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.
up-to the blood that boils in my arteries


[repeat first stanza]

Si es surtidor de místicos pesares
If it-is pump of mystical griefs

y hace al hombre arrastrar largas cadenas,
and makes the man drag long chains

yo te juro arrastrarlas por los mares
I to-you swear drag-them through the seas

infinitos y negros de mis penas,
infinite and black from my hardships/sorrows/“shames”-(as plural noun)

infinitos y negros de mis penas.
infinite and black from my hardships/sorrows/“shames”-(as plural noun).

(Interlude, like introduction)

[repeat second stanza]

(Final chords)


Trío Matamoros: Juramento – (letra y acordes)

Juramento — Eva Griñán & Gabino Jardines


A Love Supreme

John William Coltrane (23 September 1926 - 17 July 1967)

John William Coltrane (23 September 1926 – 17 July 1967)

A Love Supreme

Coltrane is the angel God called upon
to blow the universe down its swingingest groove.
Music is the resonance of eternity in the transience of the moment.
But, to feel the living pulse of that essence —
holding all —
you have to hear the heart music —
the breath of God itself —
like Bach, or Mozart, or Beethoven,
and yes, yes,
that earnest, pregnant resonance of living air —
He is like a pool with a buried sun —
on diving deeper its clarity expands.
Explanation is deviation,
the embodiment is acceptance, experience, devotion,
mystical wonder,
an unknowing, humbling sainthood of art.
Man is the instrument of God,
and Coltrane is God’s dream of love for us
blown through a tenor sax.

23 September 2002

En el juego de la vida — Español-English

Daniel Santos (1916-1992) with Sonora Matancera (1948)

En el juego de la vida
juega el grande y juega el chico,
juega el blanco y juega el negro,
juega el pobre y juega el rico.

En el juego de la vida
nada te vale la suerte
porque al fin de la partida
gana el albur de la muerte.

Juega con tus cartas limpias
en el juego de la vida,
al morír nada te llevas,
viva y deja que otros vivan.

Cuatro puertas hay abiertas
al que no tiene dinero:
el hospitál y la carcel,
la iglesia y el cementerio.


In the game of life you’ll find that
play the big guys and the little fish,
play the white and play the black,
play the poor and play the rich.

In the game of life you’ll find that
all your luck will have been worthless
because at every game’s end
the only pot to win are death’s chips.

With unmarked cards keep playing
in the gamble of your lifetime
for at death you will take nothing,
so just live and then let live.

Fours doors are always open
to those who have no money:
the hospital and jailhouse,
the church and cemetery.


Dos Gardenias — Español-English

Red Rose White Rose

Dos Gardenias is a bolero written by the Cuban composer Isolina Carrillo Estrada (1907-1996) in 1947. Dos Gardenias is a timeless song, inspiring performers, recording artists and audiences to this day.

Isolina Carrillo (1907-1996)

Dos Gardenias
(Isolina Carrillo)

Dos gardenias para ti
con ellas quiero decir
te quiero,
te adoro,
mi vida
ponles toda tu atención
porque son tu corazón
y el mío

Dos gardenias para ti
que tendrán todo el calor
de un beso
de esos besos que te di
y que jamás encontrarás
en el calor de otro querer

A tu lado vivirán
y te hablarán
como cuando estás conmigo
y hasta creerás
que te dirán
te quiero

Pero si un atardecer
las gardenias de mi amor
se mueren
es porque han adivinado
que tu amor me ha traicionado
porque existe otro querer.


Two Gardenias
(Isolina Carrillo)

Two gardenias here for you
with them I’m trying to say
I love you,
adore you,
my darling
guard them very carefully
because they are your heart
and my heart.

Two gardenias here for you
that hold all of the warmth
of love’s kiss,
of those kisses that I gave you
and of which you’ll never find in
passion’s heat from other loves.

By your side these blooms will live
and speak to you
just as when you’re with me,
and you’ll even believe
they are saying:
I love you.

But if some darkening day
the gardenias of my love
should fall dead
it will be because they sensed
that I have been betrayed
and you have another love.


Daniel Santos – Dos Gardenias
[1940s-1990s, defining, the timelessly sexy Daniel Santos at his best]

Ibrahim Ferrer – Dos Gardenias
[1997, soulful, nostalgic, sparked the revival]

Antonio Machín – Dos Gardenias
[1950s-1970s, such a fluid velvety sound, with such clear diction]

Lucrecia – Dos Gardenias
[1996, sultry Cuban jazz version, then a montuno!, soul with youthful energy]

Leo Marini – Dos Gardenias
[1940s-1980s, a tango-flavored version with an Argentine singer]

Sole Giménez – Dos Gardenias
[2012, pure smooth jazz night club version, agile singing and swinging cats playing]

Isabel Pantoja – Dos Gardenias
[2013, a smokey torch-song version, with jazz combo and strings, as if back in Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca in 1942]

Victoria Sur – Dos Gardenias
[2013, lovely voice, excellent band, but I dislike the combination of the traditional ballad-style singing with the modern-spacey-electronic-jazz-rock band music. For me, there is too much music-school technique for show and not enough in service to the spirit of the song. But, all the ingredients here are of high quality, and of youthful vigor, so many should enjoy this, and these musicians certainly have the stuff of making long and artful careers. Finally, I appreciate that they published the lyrics in the notes accompanying the music video.]


The photos are actually of roses. Gardenias look similar.

Veinte Años — Español-English

Young Woman, Windblown

Veinte Años is an habanera style song written and premiered in 1935 by María Teresa Vera (1895-1965), with lyrics by Guillermina Aramburu. It is one of the eternal classics of Cuban music, being specifically a work of trova, which is troubadour music written for guitar and voice, and originally performed by duos, trios and small ensembles. Veinte Años has been very widely performed and recorded since 1935, no doubt because the song is so beautiful that it perennially inspires people all over the world.

María Teresa Vera (1895-1965)

Maria Teresa Vera – Veinte Años
[habanera, con letra de Guillermina Aramburu, 1935]

Veinte Años

Qué te importa que te ame
si tú no me quieres ya.
El amor que ya ha pasado
no se debe recordar.

Fui la ilusión de tu vida
un día lejano ya,
hoy represento el pasado,
no me puedo conformar.

Si las cosas que uno quiere
se pudieran alcanzar
tú me quisieras lo mismo
que veinte años atrás.

Con qué tristeza miramos
un amor que se nos va,
es un pedazo del alma
que se arranca sin piedad.


Twenty Years

What’s it matter that I love you
if you no longer care for me.
The love that passed between us
is a long lost memory.

It was me that you once lived for
in distant yesterdays.
I’m your forgotten past now,
it can be no other way.

If the things that one could wish for
were all possible to know,
you would still love me the same as
you did twenty years ago.

With what sadness we look back on
hopes of love never to be,
it is a piece of my heart that’s
been ripped out so piteously.


Veinte años (Twenty Years) – María Teresa Vera (Subt. en Español & English)
[subtitles in both Spanish and English, same recording as one above]

El Trovador Codina – Veinte Años

Barbarito Díez – Veinte años

Los Guaracheros de Oriente – Veinte años

Irene Atienza e Douglas Lora (Veinte Años) no Programa Casa do Som
[From Brazil, 2016, very sweet guitar playing, very rich dusky singing.]

Veinte Años (Live, CA)
[From California, 2015, very delicate and tasteful recreation of 1930’s feeling by a trio]

Veinte Años: Jorge & Marc (gonzj49 & dartfrog99)
[From USA, 2010, beautiful guitar duet with voice; an internet combo.]

Maykel’s Quartet – Veinte años (Variaciones 24-09-2011)
[virtuoso variations on a tres]

Veinte años [todos!]
[public singing!]

Buena Vista Social Club – Veinte Años (La Habana)
[1997, Omara Portuondo and Compay Segundo sing, Eliades Ochoa first guitar]