Often the tomb encloses, without knowing it,Alphonse de Lamartine
two hearts in the same coffin.
Since ancient times music has been a source of comfort: it evokes moments of joy or sadness, as well as wishes for good fortune. The ancient Mexicans used to sing the Xochipitzahua, which means little flower. It was performed in all kinds of celebrations, of life and death. To this day, in many Nahuatl-speaking communities, it is used as a ritual to purify births, baptisms, marriages, santorales, and funerals.
Every November 22, World Music Day is celebrated in many countries and, in the Christian world, St. Cecilia, a virtuous woman who used music as a prayer on her path of martyrdom and sanctity, is venerated. In the Americas, it is said that the pioneer country in celebrating this day was Brazil, which commemorates it since 1920, and from there it spread to other regions of the continent.
Within the same tradition of musicality, we could consider the ringing of church bells, which announce when a person has just passed away and people are summoned to participate in their funerals, which occurs in many communities in Latin America and the world.
They say that coincidences do not exist, but on November 22, 1901, the composer Genaro Codina, author of the Marcha de Zacatecas, a piece that has the power to evoke the epic history of Mexico, passed away.
In this installment, we make a brief tour of some of the musical pieces that make us remember those who have gone and, at the same time, work as a balm for mourning.
The song Si Dios me quita la vida, by Luis Demetrio, was a hit of the 60’s that, interpreted by Javier Solis, has been described as a love hymn for eternity. The singer died at the age of 34 due to a gallbladder complication. His partner, Blanca Estela Sainz, commented that on many occasions he told her: “You’ll see, I’m not going to get old”.
Amor eterno, by Juan Gabriel, is a famous melody that he himself composed in the 70’s, and was a pure expression of the pain caused by the loss of his mother, Victoria Valdez Rojas. The composer received the news of her death while he was in Acapulco, far from her. He said that his song was a prayer of love and has become the motive for remembering deceased mothers.
Un puño de tierra, by the composer Carlos Coral, has lyrics full of strong truths for life and is a call to live in the present. Here is Antonio Aguilar‘s 1988 rendition.
Gracias a la vida, by singer, composer, and visual artist Violeta Parra, is a reflection on the human. Parra was also an important promoter of the traditional music of her country, Chile. In that nation, the Day of Music and Chilean Musicians is celebrated every October 4, in honor of the artist’s birth. It is said that she once commented with a friend “One, comadre, has to decide the moment of his death… I will decide the moment I want to die”, and she ended her life at the age of 49 in 1967, one year after composing this song.
Grief has many ways to manifest itself due to the constant losses we live with, one of them being losing freedom and going to prison. In 2019, Los Tigres del Norte, a band of great influence in Mexico and the United States, made a new version of the concert inside the Folsom Prison in California, originally performed by Johnny Cash in 1968. The American musician has been recognized for his songs about people who have lost their rights, those who struggle and have no voice. The regional Mexican music band recaptured that compassionate act by highlighting that, today, the Hispanic population in that U.S. prison is 43%. Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison is a piece of music of great empathy with those who suffer this terrible confinement.
At Del Pueblo Funeral Home we believe that, in the deafening silence of grief, music fills this void like a hug to the heart. Thus, we remind you that we make the most difficult moments easy.