“…change is coming to Cuba, and if the island is going to preserve its identity, it will need its music more than ever.”
The Sound of Change: Can Music Save Cuba?
From the story, I can’t tell whether music will save the nation…but music’s clearly kept it alive through a failed economic and political system. Here are more bites from the article:
– Now the band has new members, neither well-off nor famous: just another group of ridiculously skilled Cubans trying to hit a seam in a tightening music market.
– What I remember from 1999 was the ubiquity of music: everywhere, every day, in clubs at night and on the Malecón in the mornings–music. At González Coro hospital in Vedado, where my wife was working for the summer, surgeons broke out a boom box in between patients and invited nurses and med students alike for an impromptu salsa session. Dance, sing, smile, repeat: the cultural cure for whatever ailed the revolution.
– for indigenous, righteous, complex and complete music, there is nothing like Cuba’s timba. It has been a vital outlet for taking on taboos, like Los Van Van’s early critique of rampant prostitution in a 1996 song about papayas: go ahead, they sang, touch it; it’s a national product. During the economic crisis following the Soviet collapse, music was the one thing that held the island together, a common passion for both revolutionaries and reactionaries.
– marrying a Cuban musician is like marrying a soldier or a doctor, she said. They’re always on call; they’re always overseas.
– most Cubans earn from $15 to $25 a month and survive off the ration books that offer them sugar, rice, beans and (only for the elderly) cigars.
– He plays for tourists in Old Havana but earns just a few dollars a night. The strings for his instrument are made out of recycled telephone wire; he cuts his guitar picks from shampoo bottles. He is still restless, eager for an upgrade in life.
– More and more Cubans are looking for common ground.