When I recently heard the lyrics of Son de la loma (They’re from the Hills), that classic of Cuban son, I begin to think about migration – about how people leave their native homes in search of better opportunities.
The flow of Cuban migration has been not only toward foreign lands, but also toward the capital from all the points of the island. In the case of Son de la loma, its singers were born in “the hills,” which is to say those from the mountainous eastern part of the island. However, they sing in “el llano” (the plain), which is a way of saying in towns or cities, particularly the capital city of Havana.
It’s said the best Cuban music comes from the country’s eastern part, which I believe is true since the great majority of Cuban musicians recognized here and abroad were born in that region.
I know there are many musicians still in those hills creating great music and just waiting to be discovered. Most of them won’t achieve fame, which I believe is a little unfair – as much for them as for the public. Music should also be more widely promoted outside of the big urban centers.
Migration is something natural, even animals do it. In all regions of the world this occurs. My father was born in Holguin Province; therefore he too is an easterner, though he’s not a singer. However his native town of Mayari was immortalized in the song Chan Chan by Buena Vista Social Club leader Compay Segundo, who was also born in that area.
Life in big cities is different from that of rural areas. The campesinos live much closer to nature; perhaps that explains the musical tradition in those areas, which contrasts to the much more reflexive literary style in the west of the country.
My grandfather is also from Mayarí. He’s one of those who from time to time comes up with a rapid “decima” rhyming scheme, a tradition that many campesinos forget once they settle in Havana.
I like it when people are faithful to their culture and act naturally, like the singers who are from the hills and sing in the flats.