I have not been in Nicaragua for over 14 months. This is the longest I have gone without visiting since I started traveling there in May of 2002. I have already written about Nicaragua a few times before - they are all here in the Central America category - but I am always ready to write more! I am thinking it would be cool to post about Nicaragua on a regular basis, with a new tidbit of information each time, maybe once a week or so. Today I want to introduce you to some Nicaraguan music. (It is impossible to talk about Nicaraguan music without being political - so consider yourself warned! :)
Nicaraguan music is naturally very influenced by the Sandinista revolution of 1979 - or should I say that the revolution was influenced by the music? Many musicians (as well as other artists; Nicaragua had and has a particularly active poet community) were important figures in the Sandinista movement.
I wanted to post this video of Carlos Mejía Godoy singing the famous song he and his brother Luis Enrique wrote, Nicaragua Nicaraguita. This video is from 1983. To many, this is the song of the revolution.
The Mejía Godoy brothers are probably the most famous Nicaraguan musicians and have written some of the most famous and beloved songs, both before, during, and after the Nicaraguan revolution. Julio Valle-Castillo said it beautifully:
Carlos Mejía Godoy no le canta al pueblo. El pueblo canta en él y por él y con él. La voz popular. Voz y canto del pueblo.
Carlos Mejía Godoy doesn't sing to the people. The people sing in him and for him and with him. The popular voice. Voice and song of the people.
I am posting a second video here, with probably my favorite song of theirs, Cristo de Palacaguina. It is a Christmas song where Mary and Joseph are poor Nicaraguans living in countryside; Joseph is a day laborer and Mary works for the rich landowner's wife. Instead of three kings bringing gold, incense and myrra, there are Indians bringing local treats and handicrafts. And in good revolutionary spirit, little baby Jesus wants to be a guerrillero when he grows up. (Katia Cardenal also does a beautiful version of this song on her album "Ven a mi casa esta navidad.")
Cristo De Palacagüina
Por el cerro de la iguana, montaña adentro
De la cegobia,
Se oyo un resplandor extraño
Como una aurora de media noche.
Los maizales se prendieron,
Los quiebraplatas se estremecieron,
Llovio luz por muyugalpa, por telpaneca,
Cristo ya nació en palacaguina,
De chepe pavón (pavon, pavon) y una tal maría,
Ella va a planchar muy humildemente,
La ropa que goza la mujer hermosa del terrateniente.
La gente para mirarlo se rejuntaron en molote,
Y el indio joaquin le trajo quesillo en trenza de nagarote,
En vez de oro, incienso y mirra,
Le regalaron segun yo supe,
Cajetita de diriomo y hasta buñuelos de guadalupe.
José pobre jornalero se mecateya todito el dia,
Lo tiene con reumatismo el tequio de la carpinteria,
Maria sueña que el hijo, igual que el taita sea carpintero,
Pero el zipotillo piensa mañana quiero ser guerrillero.