Cuba’s ‘Buena Fe’: Don’t Play with My Loneliness

Osmel Almaguer

Buena Fe in concert. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, 11 Nov. — Buena Fe is the duo that burst onto the Cuban music scene early this century and that over the past ten years has established itself as a favorite of millions of Cubans. The group is made up of Israel Rojas (the lead singer, composer and leader of the project), and Yoel Martinez (guitarist and backup vocalist).

Both are from Guantanamo Province, the easternmost territory of the island, but they currently live in the capital.

Israel, a lawyer by profession, is a musician of great inspiration, which rather nicely complements the musical studies knowledge of Yoel, who comes from a family with a musical tradition and who went to the School of Art in Guantanamo, reaching the halfway point in his studies in classical guitar.

They retain the spirit of the Cuban trova style, though their recorded works have demonstrated a gradual inclination toward sounds closer to pop and rock. Nevertheless, in each of their songs they like to mix many elements of Cuban popular music and international sounds—one can even notice some classical influences.

They compose and arrange songs at high speed, a feature that sometimes prevents them from allowing their works to mature adequately. They receive a great deal of exposure in the Cuban media, and they’ve associated themselves with various political causes and social institutions. They represent a kind of “changing of the guard” in terms of mobilizing youth, taking the place of the iconic group Moncada.

Their music is, however, catchy and upbeat, and their lyrics offer a critical perspective connected to the experiences that govern life in Cuba today. The words to their songs make them a merger of chroniclers and prophets, as might be detected in the titles of their discography: Dejame entrar [2001], Arsenal [2003], Corazonero [2004], Presagios [2006], Catalejo [2008], Extremistas Nobles (with Frank Delgado) [2010] and Pi (3.14) [2010].

No juegues con mi soledad” (Don’t play with my loneliness)
From the CD Dejame entrar

I’m warning you with vengeance, that’s my duty, / because I’m calling you and that was unintentional. / Threatening me warns you, / be careful with me, my love, / because I’m scared to death before you, / and I know / that I always keep my wound covered up, / and I know / I’d put up with everything from you / almost everything.

If you only come to ask, / to let me help you change, / if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness. / If you only care about continuing on, / and I’m no longer a bridge, / if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness. / If you would only like to try out / your charm of a happy girl, / if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness.

If you only come to ask, / (if you only saw in me the possibility), / to let me help you change (to restore your energy to rest) / if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness. / If you only care about continuing on / (if not my heart would be a good home), / and I’m no longer a bridge, / (and I’m only useful to you for moving on) if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness. / If you would only like to try out / your charm of a happy girl, / if you only take my body, / don’t play with my loneliness.

A small warning in the form of a song, or vice versa. Short but intense. Concise, clear, honest and tormented, but sweet.

It is the drama experienced my most people today: the contradiction between the romantic teachings that flood our childhood and the postmodernism that characterizes the social behavior among young people today.

The character in this story has become joyless due to disappointment, neglect and loneliness. He is a being of depth, someone who knows what love is, but who has lost trust in people as well as the hope of re-finding it.

He’s therefore a suspicious man, one who prefers to hurt others before again suffering a wound on the battlefield of passion.

To him, everyone is a potential threat. He probably sees everyone else as being too happy, a feature that the seriousness of his character makes impossible for him.

In one corner of his being there still survive hopes and illusions, the spontaneity of an adolescent. He’s able to tremble before the woman who makes him feel, but warns that he sees a storm coming.

For him, loneliness is a wound that if not touched will fall asleep, and yet only another wound would cause him pain like nothing else in the world.


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