Musical Bridge from Cuba (*)    

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 7 — He’s a recent revelation to the world of Cuban trova.  Ray Fernandez is originally from Santa Clara but was raised in the Havana neighborhood of Alamar, where one can say he was born as a musician.  This is also where he currently resides.

His first great public success was earned with the song “Lucha tu Yuca” (Struggle for what’s yours), a piece in which he uses an entertaining analogy between today’s Cubans and our indigenous ancestors to critique the harsh reality of life in the country.

Some six years ago he began writing a column titled “Donde quieres que te ponga el plato” (Where do you want me to put the plate), signed with the pseudonym of “Guajiro de El Crucero” (The Peasant from El Crucero) for the online magazine Jiribilla.

He came to music pursuing the parallel paths of poetry and song.  He began singing compositions written by others, evolving towards preferences for traditional music and “Nueva Trova.”  Later he began writing poems, eventually setting them to music – thus was born the troubadour we know today.

Ray’s songs have the mark of his Alamar surroundings.  They have that radical vision of love, yearning, social concerns, a need for human betterment – but without the sugar-coating.  He has a lyricism enriched by popular speech and the most diverse readings in poetry and other genre of literature.  All of this springs from a musical background that extracts from our most varied musical styles while drawing on valuable foreign sounds.

He has been linked to the Alamar Omni Project, the magazine El Caiman Barbudo and the Asociacion Hermanos Saiz.

Lucha tu Yuca
Words and Music by Raymundo Fernandez Moya

Lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
que el cacique delira, que esta que preocupa,
tu, Taino, tu lucha tu yuca.

El cacique mando montones a contar,
a la tribu, quiere censar,
el bohio que ocupas tu, preparale un ritual,
no sea que lo declaren ilegal.

Que la jugada esta apreta,
todo el caney lo sabe,
que no abunda el taparrabo
y no alcanza el casabe
que esta cara la magia y mas la medicina,
¡Ay! que se nos prostituyen las tainas.

Y que trabaja, trabaja como suda el indito
y la tribu vive al margen del delito,
que el no calla al cacique, no les sacia el apetito
que te esta poniendo en fula el areito.

Hay huracan, macana y un trozo de cabuya
y un humito de cohiba pa´ mabuya,
reunion al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
que el cacique tiene el power,
que el cacique tiene el power…
Absoluto.

Pero tu…
Tu lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
que el cacique delira, que esta que preocupa,
tu, Taino tu, lucha tu yuca.

Ay trabaja, trabaja, como suda el indito
al que todavia pagan con espejitos
en las horas de ocio juega al Batos un poquito
porque esta caro, muy caro,
porque esta caro, muy caro,
el areito.

Pero tu lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
que el cacique delira, que esta que preocupa,
tu Taino, tu lucha tu yuca.

Hay huracan, macana y un trozo de cabuya
y un humito de cohiba pa´ mabuya
reunion al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
que el cacique tiene el power,
que el cacique tiene el power,
Absoluto.

Y yo no como, no como si no me dan otra cosa,
ya no soporto el picadillo de tiñosa,
sobre todo cuando veo comiendo al que no es de aqui
un jugoso filete de manati
Y….

…Tu, tu lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
que el cacique delira, que esta que preocupa,
tu, Taino tu, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca.

Que la jugada esta apreta,
todo el caney lo sabe,
que no abunda el taparrabo
y no alcanza el casabe
que esta cara la magia y mas la medicina,
¡Ay! que se nos prostituyen las tainas.

Y que trabaja, trabaja como suda el indito
y la tribu vive al margen del delito,
que el no calla al cacique, no les sacia el apetito
que te esta poniendo en fula el areito.

Pero tu lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
lucha tu yuca Taino, lucha tu yuca,
que el cacique delira, que esta que preocupa,
tu Taino, tu lucha tu yuca.

Hay huracan, macana y un trozo de cabuya
y un humito de cohiba pa´ mabuya,
reunion al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
que el cacique tiene el power…
que el cacique tiene el power…

Absoluto…
Absoluto…

The analogy is by no means fortuitous.  It’s not about comparing us with the Mayans or the Egyptians, but about looking at our own roots for a solution to continuity, one that lends coherence to our history and explains why we are like we are today.  If that was Ray’s intention when composing this song, I think he amply succeeded.

Like the indigenous pre-Columbian, the “Taino” of today has to go out and struggle for their yucca.  We should remember that with this famous yucca is made cassava, which was something like the equivalent of indigenous bread.  Well, Cubans come out of a struggle for bread because “things are tight,” (i.e., it’s a difficult situation), and the responsibility rests on the tribe’s “cacique” (the chief), whose equivalent is well known today.

In this song there also appear problems that have been at the center stage for the last several years: the increasing use of and openness to “magic,” scant clothing (loincloth), prostitution and a whole other series of phenomena associated with the influx of tourists into the country (I won’t eat, I won’t eat if they don’t give me something else, / I can’t stomach this disgusting hash anymore, / especially when those who aren’t from here are eating / a juicy manatee steak).

He also speaks of recreation and people’s leisure by relating el bato with baseball and areito to discos and cabarets.

Anyway, “Lucha tu Yuca” is a fun song but a painful one.  It has depth in its political analysis and has been widely employed in this area.   But I think it’s also a little bit more; it’s also evidence of how we humans rise above misery and compose beautiful pieces like this, full of Cubania and poetry.

(*) A Musical Bridge from Cuba: This is an effort to find new bridges that promote communication between peoples of the diverse regions of the planet.    I will be using simple narration in a series of articles to connect with those who are interested in the messages transmitted by Cuban songs, which due to their limited commercial potential and the difficulties posed by their translation, languish in a state of communicational stagnation – despite their being true jewels of Cuban culture.

 


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