Expect to find the unexpected in Mexico City (DF) with Marcela Viejo, keyboardist/vocalist of Mexico’s praised electropop ensemble, Quiero Club. Mexico’s capital is a lively, rich, and diverse place where one is bound to find oddities, novelties, and underground movements of sorts. In this weekly column, Marcela takes you along on her musical quest to find these rare gems and obscure scenes via reviews, interviews, and profiles. The idea is to search.
The world is not what it was. We’ve lost people who had a great influence on this world, whose absence has left a notable gap. Every time someone who was really worthwhile dies I feel sad to stay here in an increasingly weirder world.
And although probably future stars that will brighten up our world again are being born, I can’t help but feel sad and miss those stars that dimmed in the last couple of year: Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and now Chavela Vargas. That last one is definitely the most painful loss that Mexico has had.
Also known as La Chamana, Chavela brought great pride for Mexicans. She transmitted peace and hope, and although she wasn’t Mexican of birth, she assimilated to our country so well that she obtained the nationality and represented Mexican culture with pride.
Dressed in her traditional red poncho, she sang rancheras super well, with a deep and grievous voice. She gave a twist to Mexican songs lowering their tones to make them sound darker and more heartrending. With that, she was able to radically change the Mexican tendency for humor and maliciousness for drama and sensibility. I’m glad to know that, through her own words, Chavela Vargas did not pass away, but transcended. It moves me to see how this August 5th at Bellas Artes was filled with people who went to say farewell, to wish her good luck in her voyage without return.
A 93 year old woman who had a difficult childhood with poliomyelitis, she grew up dressed as a man, smoking tobacco and drinking. A daring woman who broke schemes and filled herself with long-lived wisdom, she will always be remembered and her songs will keep playing in our ears forever.
At 80, Chavela jumped from a parachute, got over her alcoholism and passed her last years in Tepoztlán, Morelos, in the skirts of Mount Tepozteco, with which she claimed to speak every morning. There are numerous anecdotes that this woman leaves engraved in our history which is why, in a very Mexican way, her funeral culminated in Garibaldi to the sound of mariachi, with lots of alcohol, like we know she would have enjoyed.
Although the sky also cried and rain did not stop falling, around 10,000 people screamed her name in unison saying, “¡Buen Viaje Chavela! y que viva! Long live the woman of the red poncho! And Long Live México!
Thumbnail photo credit by María José Sesma
Translated by Julia Tavernas