Cuba’s Pedro Luis Ferrer: ‘I’m Not Much Like Him’

Musical bridge from Cuba*

Osmel Almaguer

Pedro Luis Ferrer in concert last July in Havana. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, March 2 — A self-taught guitarist, composer and singer, Pedro Luis Ferrer’s long musical career, dating back from the early 70’s, includes significant contributions to Cuban culture.

He is the author of songs like “Mariposa,” popularized by Miriam Ramos; ““Romance de la Niña mala,” a poem by his father, Raul Ferrer; “Inseminacion artificial” and “Como me gusta ‘hablal’ español.”

Yet that self-taught status has not prevented him from composing “works for guitar and other orchestral formats, as well as piano preludes and fugues.”

He has also realized musical works “for some documentaries and films of the former Film Section of the Revolutionary Armed Forces” and for different TV series.

In an unblemished family tradition, he cultivates free verses and some metrical forms of poetry, such as decima, sonnets and redondilla.

Although concerned about the whole of Cuban popular music, in his work he has paid special attention to “guaracha.”

Disagreements with the Cuban “officialdom” have turned him into an itinerant troubadour, leading him to perform mostly for audiences in Europe and the US. This isn’t to say that his work isn’t appreciated by Cubans – indeed, the opposite is true.

In the nineties his music was banned from the Cuban media. Later there appeared in Havana — without the author’s consent — a disc with footage and recordings of him from the ‘80s titled The Best of Pedro Luis Ferrer. It was like “being treated like an already dead artist,” he commented.

“In 1999, after more than ten years without appearing in large auditoriums, he gave two concerts in the Avellaneda Hall of the National Theatre of Cuba.”

His discography includes the albums Pedro Luis Ferrer (EGREM), Debajo de mi voz (EGREM), En espuma y arena (EGREM), 100% cubano (Carapacho Productions), Pedro Luis Ferrer (Caliente Records), Rustico (ESCONDIDA, Ultra Records), and Natural (ESCONDIDA, Ultra Records).

Yo no tanto como él (I’m not so much like him.)

My father was a Fidelista*, / I’m not so much like him. / But whoever messes with my father / they’ll have to deal with me, / they’ll have to deal with me. / I’m not so much like him. / I’m not so much like him.

My father was a communist, / I’m not so much like him. / Whoever puts a finger on him is going to feel my wrath, / they’re going to feel my wrath.

My father was CDR’er***, / I’m not so much like him. / But whoever messes with my father / they’ll have to deal with me, / they’ll have to deal with me.

I detest the bureaucracy / which turned efficiency / into mass ruin. / With pointless prohibitions / they increased our resentments / and they killed a thousand loves. / What happened to life, so many people sorry, so sorry?

My father, in that January / he didn’t get me out of the country / he dressed me up as a young pioneer, / and taught me to fight, / And he taught me to fight. / I’m not so much like him. / I’m not so much like him.

I will not apologize for my life: / I am what I know how to be, and how wonderful! / How wonderful!

My father was a Fidelista**, / I’m not so much like him. / But whoever messes with my father / they’ll have to deal with me, / they’ll have to deal with me.

I’m not much like him. / I’m not much like him.

They’ll have to deal with me.

With that candor that characterizes him and that clarity not devoid of poetry, Pedro Luis expresses that relationship that many millions of Cubans have suffered. Especially, those of us who became adults as the revolutionary process had begun its decline.

There are still fans of the revolution, rabid fans of Fidel – a whole generation of socially marginalized people who acquired a decent status in 1959, those who continued or still continue to feel a great debt of gratitude.

Yes, because if we criticize the negative it’s also only fair to recognize the positive aspects, because every process has them. And that has been its strong point, one of the pillars that still sustains this revolution (the other being control).

Along with these new benefits, our parents, with almost no training and being of a certain age, were indoctrinated with dogma that has never been undone. The same dogma they tried to instill in us at all costs, but they only half succeeded. The new times will take charge of making those remains disappear.

However, as Ferrer says, an emotional part remains with us. “I don’t think like my father but you better not mess with him.” In other words, if they attack my father, I’ll stand up for him – meaning that my father’s enemies are my enemies.

So then we get the essence of the song: how emotional influences sometimes act more intensely on our psyche than the most sagacious of arguments.

(**) Fidelista: A follower of Fidel Castro

(***) CDR’er: A member of a neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution

(*) 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.


2 thoughts on “Cuba’s Pedro Luis Ferrer: ‘I’m Not Much Like Him’

  • Pienso que Pedro Luis Ferreer es un genuino representante de los musicos cubanos, pienso tambien que Pedro Luis Ferrer, fue maltratado por los burocratas y mediocres que dirigian la cultura en la Isla en esos tiempos, Pedro Luis Ferrer opto por un camino en su vida, que nadie puede criticar, pues fue su decision unica y exclusivamente, Pedro Luis Ferrer, no se ha aliado a los que odian y destruyen, como lo hizo el cantautor Pablo Milanes, ha sido un critico constructivo, no entendido en muchas ocasiones y preterido en muchas otras.

    Al margen de lo senalado, si tengo que decir que Pedro Luis Ferrer, ha culpado al pais, al gobierno y a sus dirigentes por lo que le sucedio a el en su vida, accion en mi humilde opinion erronea y no positiva, pues si decidiio quedarse en el pais y seguir su carrera como artista, debio culpar a todos aquellos que le hicieron la vida no grata y agradable, debio exigir una respuesta a las mas altas autoridades por esas situaciones, muchos lo han hecho y muchos han logrado enderezar sus vidas y sere devueltos a la vida que antes tenian.

    Guardar rencores y animadversion contra el pais, el gobierno y sus dirigentes por hechos como los que le ocurrieron a el, y no senalarlos constantemente antes las autoridades correspondientes, no ha ayudado ni ayudara a Pedro Luis a eliminar el escollo que el ha creado entre su pais y el, otros lo han eliminado, otros los mantienen y lo alimentan como el caso de Pablo Milanes, aun cuando este senor Milanes, no puede negar que el es un fruto directo y probado de la generosidad de su pueblo, su gobierno y sus dirigentes. Todos cometemos errores, nadie esta exento de ellos, reiterar y mantener esos errores, es de autosuficientes y egolatras, rectificar es de sabio y deja una estela de humildad contra la cual nadie podra luchar nunca.

    La generosidad, la humildad y la sensibilidad humana, son los mejores atributos de cualquier ser humano, quien piense que puede humillar, maltratar e ignorar a los que posee esos atributos en cualquier lugar del mundo, esta totalmente equivocado y es un perdedor en la vida, donde quiera que se encuentre, esa experiencia es reconfortante y ha ayudado y ayuda a sanar heridas, tanto espirituales como sentimentales.

  • but what is his point?

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