I’m an American. Not in the nationalist sense of the word – #FuckBorders – but I don’t know how else to describe my snotty attitude, self-righteous imperialist tendencies, and the Pavlovian patriotism that surfaces every time I see fireworks.
Unfortunately, the United States is that annoying friend that’s always saying “prove it,” and I’m undocumented so I can’t, and now our relationship’s complicated. The fact that I’m months away from getting a Green Card (note-to-self: find out new husband’s favorite color before interview) is making it even weirder. After 18 years away, I’ll be able to visit the country I was born in – the Spain that kissed me goodbye and told me to write – to face the shame of never looking back. Boohoo.After 18 yrs away, I'm visiting the country I was born in to face the shame of never looking… Click To Tweet
In preparation to make peace with España and figure out if there’s any of it left in me, I sheepishly WhatsApp-ed my cousins in broken Spanish for something to help me connect: their favorite musica Española. It didn’t go well. Apparently reggaeton has infected the whole world, and I’m the only Hispanic who wants to drown it out with down beats. So I put my research skills to work and curated a mixtape of music from Spain that speaks to my broken heart, still figuring out which side of the Atlantic it belongs to. I can’t even cry in Spanish, ya’ll.
1. “Adíos Mi España” || La Shica
Voy a morirme de pena viviendo tan lejos de ti.
“I’m going to die of regret living so far from you.” There’s nothing subtle in this unforgiving piece of poetry originally written for Antonio Molina. It’s hard to imagine who I’d be and how I’d be living if my parents had never brought us to the U.S., but I do it sometimes anyway – there’s a lot more tremolo-backed romance in that life.
2. “Pequeño Vals Vienés” || Sílvia Pérez Cruz
Dejaré mi boca entre tus piernas, mi alma en fotografías y azucenas…
“I’ll leave my mouth between your legs, my soul in photographs and lilies…” This song is the musical embodiment of that kind of loopy-crazy feeling you get when something really bad just happened and all you can do is laugh. It doesn’t make much narrative or grammatical sense, but the desperation and hysteria are definitely not lost in translation.
3. “Ahora Que La Mierda Ya Me Llega Hasta Los Ojos” || Espaldamaceta
Y has venido guapa con los ojos inundados de cosas que has vivido sin estar yo a tu lado.
“You’ve come pretty with your eyes flooding with things you’ve lived without me by your side.” I think of my mom when I listen to this one. I moved to the U.S. at age 3 and am returning to Spain as a pseudo-tourist – it’s a whole other heartbreak when you leave somewhere that raised you, and return after 20 years to find it continued on without you.
4. “Palabras Para Julia” || Paco Ibáñez
Tú no puedes volver atrás porque la vida ya te empuja como un aullido interminable.
“You can’t go back because life pushes you like an endless howl,” is the opening line of this little ditty. Cue the waterworks. And then stop, ‘cause Paco (and José Agustín Goytisolo, who wrote the poetry) says there’s no use crying at a blind wall – the object of life is love, friendship, and the dignity of all. Gotta love those humanists.
5. “Con Toda Palabra” || Las Migas
Me entrego a tus brazos con miedo y con calma.
“I deliver myself into your arms with fear and calm” pretty much describes what I imagine my reunion with my family will be like, and after begging for tips on Spanish music, they can probably smell the desperation for acceptance across the Atlantic. I’ll just tell them it’s a popular American scent…
6. “Lluvia” || Mala Rodriguez
La lluvia se lo va a llevar todo, uno o otro modo, poco importa si miras desde arriba del todo.
“The rain will take it all, one way or another, little matters when you’re looking down from above.” As a mid-low-profile immigrant with heaps of white/European privilege (my brother took all the melanin in our family), this is a good reminder to have some perspective and stop being such a whiny baby. I reserve the right to cry in my bedroom, though – lemme know if you want to collect my lluvia of white tears.
7. “Desorden” || Maria Rodés
Vuelvo a pasar por el camino acostumbrado, sin acordarme que es el camino equivocado.
“I keep going the way I’m used to, forgetting it’s the wrong way.” One of the toughest parts of breaking up, romantic or otherwise, is undoing the patterns of thought and behavior that were once comfortable habits, now turned painful memories. The last time I was in Spain was a bit traumatic, and on the surface my brain totally gets I’m returning under different circumstances, but when I lose control to my subconscious, it takes me down a dark, familiar path.
8. “Quebradizo y Transparente” || El Hijo
Ella busca el amor perfecto, a veces cree encontrarlo al mirarse en los espejos.
“She looks for the perfect love, and sometimes believes she’s found it in the mirror.” This line sunk my heart to my toes. When I came out as undocumented, I thought I had finally found a place I fit in with the immigrant rights community – but I’m not Latinx enough for them, and I’m not American enough for America, and I’m not Spanish enough for Spain. Just gotta love myself, I guess.
9. “No + Llorá” || Bebe
Y hay algunas [canciones] que nadie jamás quiero que comprendan porque son pa’ mi na’ ma’ pa’ mi corazon, pa’ mis pensamientos pa’ mi reflexión, pa’ mi.
“There are some songs that I don’t want anyone to understand because they’re just for me, for my heart, for my thoughts, for my reflection, for me.” I’m looking forward to sharing my journey back to Spain, maybe with you! But as Twitter happy as I am, I hope to keep some things between me and the sea.
10. “Cantares” || Joan Manuel Serrat
Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar, golpe a golpe, verso a verso.
“Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking, blow by blow, verse by verse.” My mom used to sing this song at the top of her lungs, unfortunately, but the beautiful poetry of Antonio Machado rings true. It reminds me of an even more relevant version of the phrase by Gloria Anzaldúa, “Wanderer, there are no bridges, you make them by walking.” Did I say #FuckBorders yet?
We’re all about highlighting the best of music that you don’t really hear on the radio: music by underrepresented voices, tunes by your best friend you believe really needs to be out there, what you’re convinced will be the next big underground hit (or maybe it’ll be above ground – we don’t discriminate!). If you’re musically inclined and want to see your suggestion maybe featured in a future mixtape, we want you to throw your song(s) in the hat. All suggestions go – except for shitty top 40 music, stuff that makes the neighbors vomit over how lame it is, or music that’s just hateful against a group of people (unless they’re oppressive, in which case it’s a little different).
Because we love you, we compiled all your new favorite songs in one playlist. Enjoy!
- Adiós Mi España La Shica 2:41
- Pequeño Vals Vienés Sílvia Pérez Cruz y Raúl Fernández Buy 6:40
- Ahora que la mierda ya me llega hasta los ojos Espaldamaceta Buy 4:29
- Palabras para Julia Paco Ibáñez Buy 3:14
- Con Toda Palabra Las Migas Buy 3:16
- Lluvia Mala Rodríguez Buy 3:25
- Desorden Maria Rodés Buy 3:10
- Quebradizo y transparente El Hijo Buy 5:32
- No + Llorá Bebe Buy 4:07
- Cantares Joan Manuel Serrat Buy 3:22