Over the weekend, Puerto Rico’s Alegría Rampante gifted contributors to the indie troupe’s successful Indiegogo campaign for Se Nos Fue La Mano, the group’s debut album released last October. Part of the gift was early access to a bonus track and corresponding video. For Eduardo Alegria, the theatrics-loving troubador at the helm, its creation was an exercise in restraint.
It was sometime in the 90s, around his time spearheading his former pop act Superaquello, that he revisited “Te Recuerdo Amanda,” one of the most famous folk songs by the legendary late Chilean activist Victor Jara. The cover comes just one day after a Florida court found a Pinochet-era officer liable for the singer’s murder. The former officer now faces potential extradition to Chile for a criminal prosecution.
Always with a visual element in mind, Eduardo saw something cinematic in the iconic song. He reworked it for a musical by Esquina Periferia in 2011, then began incorporating it into live Alegría Rampante sets in the years after. In his reimagining, Amanda becomes “Armando.” Eduardo explains in the accompanying press release that he tried to muffle his tendencies toward the extravagant as a way of respecting the solemn spirit of the original — but he is, after all, an “embellisher” by nature, he notes.
Still, there are thoughtful homages within the greater tribute: The end coda is a loop modeled after a brief instrumental preamble that Jara would play before starting the song. And by disorienting the listeners who know its lyrics well, Eduardo says he not only aimed to challenge its heteronormativity, but also evoke an actual queer feeling. As Jara sang, “la vida es eterna en cinco minutos,” so does Eduardo — a recalibrated version of the message, and with equal emotive power.
“Armando” is now available publicly. Watch it above, and download the track for free here.