Raul Torres, Chronicler of His Times

Osmel Almaguer

The Musical Bridge from Cuba (*)

Raul Torres. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES, January 20 — Self-defined as a chronicler of his times, Raul Torres was born in Bayamo, Cuba, but he became known in Matanzas Province.  From folk “trova” roots, he has researched the music of diverse regions of the world to incorporate sonorities and melodic elements of jazz as well as Brazilian, African and lately Anglo-Saxon music.

His evolution as an artist has allowed him to extend from a very particular intimate quality to reach positions of social criticism and challenge according to the degree of commitment that he has gradually acquired over the passing years, though without ceasing to uphold poetry and the beauty of life.

Distinguished national and international artists such as Ana Belen, Xiomara Laugart, Simone, and Los Van Van have sung his songs.

Speaking about him, Pablo Milanes has said: “Without a doubt he is the best of his generation in Cuba.  His voice, his personal style, his music, alongside the musical vanguard of the continent, his images and his lyrics in general make him one of the most solid young artists on the current Cuban scene.”

His song “Candil de nieve,” composed jointly with Pablo, is one of the most beautiful of Cuban trova.

“Candil de nieve” (Snow Candle)

You need a catatonic, nocturnal escape, a brief wind

to the Eden of one Saturday, where a myopic bird waits to carry you,

from the bad crashes, you cannot escape, snow candle,

the problem is that if you see it blowing onto the pedal of another flower

you get angry, you become flushed snow candle.

Awaken carnation, with dawn you will see the reason

for what you lacked, why it didn’t reach more than your heart.

I don’t think that suffering is the option

that some god gave us to survive;

don’t blow out the candle

or the snow will collapse in the center of your pain.

You need an escape to a true world, of madness

and when they come for you, not just the beauty should dazzle you.

Other tears wait for you, as passing anxieties on your journey

and other lighter muses will paint and choose another destiny

go out to look for them snow candle.

Raul Torres

These are the words of a song whose depth and harmony in a language that make it comparable to great poems.  Its complexity sometimes prevents us from attaining an explicit and rational understanding of what is recounted.

It becomes necessary to then give way to the enjoyment of its poetic flight, its simple words and images that only transmit ideas, sensations and dreams to us, all related to the act of loving and with the inherent complexities of human beings when we assume this feeling.

The antithetic construction that the title gives to the song, and that also supposes a contradictory lyrical subject, constitutes a secret that is only partially decipherable.  It mixes cold and heat, yin and yang, darkness and lightness, sadness and happiness.  The human being is located in the center of its concerns; its relationship with the world, with all other individuals and with the divinities that — supposedly — dictate fates.

These lyrics also shelter positions in the face of the life that the authors consider vital nature: “I don’t think that suffering is that option that some god gave us to survive,” or “When they come for you, not just the beauty should dazzle you.”  They appear by way of legacy, spiritual inheritance or lasting collective memory, only everlasting thanks to love.

(*) 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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