Sunday, March 20, 2016

Playing For Change - Guantanamera (video & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about the Cuban song "Guantanamera" and showcases a video of that song that was produced by Playing For Change>

The content of this post is presented for cultural, inspirational, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composers of "Guantanamera" and thanks to all those who are featured in this video. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the Playing for Change movement.

"Guantanamera" (Spanish: "from Guantánamo, feminine") is perhaps the best known Cuban song and that country's most noted patriotic song, especially when using a poem by the Cuban poet, José Martí, for the lyrics....

The better known "official" lyrics are based on selections from the poetry collection Versos Sencillos (Simple Verses) by Cuban poet and independence hero José Martí, as adapted by Julián Orbón. Given Martí's significance to the Cuban people, the use of his poem in the song virtually elevated it to unofficial anthem status in the country....

Given the song's musical structure, which fits A-B-A-B (sometimes A-B-B-A) octosyllabic verses, "Guantanamera" lent itself from the beginning to impromptu verses, improvised on the spot, similar to what happens with the Mexican folk classic "La Bamba". Joseíto Fernández first used the tune to comment on daily events on his radio program by adapting them to the song's melody, and then using the song to conclude his show. Through this use, "Guantanamera" became a popular vehicle for romantic, patriotic, humorous, or social commentary in Cuba and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world.

The lyrics often sung by Fernández are about a woman from Guantánamo, with whom he had a romantic relationship, and who eventually left him...

The music for the song is sometimes attributed to Joseíto Fernández as well,[1] who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. Some claim that the song's structure actually came from Herminio "El Diablo" García Wilson, who could be credited as a co-composer. García's heirs took the matter to court decades later, but lost the case; the People's Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993. Regardless of either claim, Fernández can safely be claimed as being the first to promote the song widely through his radio programs.[2]"...

From "Guantanamera: History of A Folk Song" By Kim Ruehl, Updated November 24, 2014.
"Originally written in 1929 as a patriotic song about Cuba, the rhyme scheme and structure of "Guantanamera" has always lent itself easily to evolution and adaptation - both things necessary for any good protest song. The tune has been evolved through the years and used in struggles for peace and justice across Latin America and the US, and has been recorded by a remarkably long and diverse list of artists..."
Click for one version of the lyrics for the song "Guantanamera" in Spanish and in English.

SHOWCASE VIDEO : Guantanamera | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

Playing For Change, Published on Jul 1, 2014

Playing For Change is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. Join us at

We invite you to watch and enjoy another Song Around The World from our new album: "Guantanamera". We started the song with Carlos Varela in Havana and it features over 75 Cuban musicians around the world, from Havana and Santiago to Miami, Barcelona and Tokyo. We recorded and produced this track with Jackson Browne, who explains that "traveling with Playing For Change across Cuba was one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of my life."
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Irene Arce, 2015
"Haciendo honor a su riquísima tradición musical, estos artistas cubanos nos brindan esta fantástica versión musicalizada de poemas de José Martí."

Google translate from Spanish to English:
Honoring its rich musical tradition, these Cuban artists give us this fantastic version musicalizada of poems by José Martí.

reymel gonzalez, 2016
"hola soy un cubano que vive en la isla.. no tenia idea de tantas personas de todo el mndo tenis opiniones tan hermozas y llenas de amor hacia mi cultura de la cual estoy 100% orgulloso me gustaria agradecer a todos por sus palabras son muy reconfortantes y le hago llegar a todos sin espcion un abrazo de parte de todos los cubanos 100000000000 "

Google translate [with my suggested translations in brackets]
hi i am a Cuban who lives on the island .. I had no idea so many people around the [world has so much family feelings and full of love for my culture of which I am 100% proud I would like to thank everyone for their words are very comforting and I extend to all without [exception] a hug from all Cubans 100000000000 thanks to all (as)

Michael Feehan, 2016
"Diana Fuentes - Carlos Varela - Equis Alphonso - Hernan Lopez Nussa - Que mas se puede ! Jugando para el cambio - Maravilloso ! Absolutamente el major "Guantanamera"

Google translate from Spanish to English:
Diana Fuentes - Carlos Varela - Equis Alfonso - Hernan Lopez Nussa - What else can! Playing for Change - Wonderful! Absolutely the best "Guantanamera"

Pilar Lopez, 2016
Preciosa versión !!!! La esencia de Cuba, esta aqui.
[English translation from Spanish] :
Precious version. The essence of Cuba is here.

Hit_The_Road_Jack, 2016
"President Obama called for "Change" when he ran for office ... this classic Cuban theme song would be a fitting welcome to him when he lands in Havana."
Click "Cubans look forward to Obama visit" By Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Sun March 20, 2016 for a news article about United States President Barack Obama's visit to Cuba, the first time a United States President has visited Cuba in nearly ninety years.

Click for a pancocojams post that features videos of seven songs that are performed by Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz. "Guantanamera" is one of those featured songs.

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