Alicia’s rich mezzo-soprano voice, especially combined with the powerful lyrics of this song, gives me goosebumps. The audio is a little distorted because the volume overdrove my phone’s microphone, but it should give you a taste of Colombia’s greatest female voice singing an absolutely lovely song. I recorded it two weeks ago at the Cali Viejo restaurant in Brandon, FL.
Alicia, being a professional musician, doesn’t like having unauthorized videos or recordings made public, so this may only be up a few hours or days. She’s presently in Colombia trying to get health insurance for her son. When she gets back, she will be singing every other weekend at the restaurant. Her sister Angela is there every Friday. (Don’t forget to say hi to the tall gringo with the ponytail.)
The song was written by Violeta Parra, the Chilean ethnomusicologist and artist. Translated lyrics are below. (Translating them has been a very moving experience. I started from someone else’s draft and made many changes.)
To be seventeen once again after living a century
is like deciphering signs without wisdom or skill,
suddenly, again, as fragile as a second,
with all the solemnity of a child before God.
That is what I feel in this fertile instant.
Twining, entangling it grows like the ivy on the wall
It sprouts and blooms like moss on the stone.
Like moss on the stone, oh yes yes yes
My steps withdraw while yours keep advancing
The arch of alliances has penetrated my nest
With its full palette of color it has wandered through my veins
and even the hard chain with which destiny binds us
is like a fine diamond that illuminates my serene soul.
Emotion has accomplished what knowledge cannot
neither the most clearcut behavior or the broadest thought
The moment changes everything like an obliging magician
It removes us sweetly from rancor and violence
Only love with its science can make us so innocent.
Love is a whirlwind of original purity
Even the fierce animal whispers its sweet trill
It halts the pilgrims and frees the prisoners
Love, so hard-working, turns the aged into a child
and only kind affection can make evil men pure and sincere.
The window flew open as if by pure enchantment
Love entered with its blanket, like a warm morning
At the sound of its beautiful reveille, the jasmine burst into bloom
Flying like a seraph, love placed earrings in the sky
and the cherub made me seventeen once again
Mercedes Sosa is famous for performing Violeta Parra’s music: