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The Power of Music

The singer, Matthieu Chedid, (acrylic on watercolour paper, 9 x 10) by my daughter, © Nedelka Lucero

I love music, the one to listen to and the one to dance to. Some times I love everything about a musical composition, and some other times, it could be just the voice of the singer, or the melody, the music, the lyrics, the words, the sounds, the beat, the tone, the instruments, the speed, the slowness, the quietness, the loudness…And then comes the emotions and with time, I associate those emotions with memories. It always happens.

And I think, I am not the only one, because I have had this conversation with a lot of people and those people agreed with me, on everything that I just said. My daughter for example, tells me, that she enjoys a certain song because the sound of the bass, and some other song, because of the voice of the singer.

In my opinion, her musical taste is very sophisticated and very diverse, considering her age. She is only 15 years old. She loves Daft Punk, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles, and Matthieu Chedid, among many other singers from different eras, backgrounds and many before her time.

Matthieu Chedid is a French singer and all of the songs she listens to are in French. His style is very different than what I am used to, however, it is interesting and listening to his songs for a while, allowed me to like one of his songs and I told my daughter, I may dance to one of his compositions. (He is very entertaining for sure)

I love the fact that my daughter appreciates the type of music she listens to, specially music from different countries and in different languages, because I do too. There are many amazing and talented musician and singers all over the world, with amazing voices and very talented people, writing and composing music that is so good.

A while back, one of my college roommates by the name Mayumi, a beautiful Japanese, exchange student from Japan, used to play this song in our room every night before going to sleep. It was a Japanese song and it was very soothing and from the first time I listened to the lyrics, I felt in love not only with the melody, but specially with the beautiful voice of the singer. The name of the song is “Piece of My Wish” and the singer is Miki Imai.

Mayumi was so kind to translate the song for me and explained what the song was about and I understood why she played that song every night before going to sleep. And it was something like this: “My friends and love ones give me the courage. I am holding tight to those words but the final answer, one must find by themselves”

I could relate to Mayumi, as years earlier, I had left my home country, as a very young teen, and I had flown to the USA with a family I verily knew and when I told someone I was missing Panama and my friends and family, one of my best friends, sent me a cassette tape with an Italian song called “Rosa”, by the Italian singer, Nicola Di Bari, a song I listened to all the time, and a song that made me smile while I thought about my family, my friends and the skyscrapers in Panama. (In my mind, I was really convince, the song was written for me and about me)

Right before I came to the United States, I brought a cassette tape full of songs that reminded me of junior high and all of my friends. That song reminds me of so many great things I left behind. It reminds me of the somewhat care-free days and the school parties and hanging out with silly friends and with so much hope for the future. This is a French song name “Joe Le Taxi” by Vanessa Paradis.

My playlist is full of songs from different parts of the world, from different years, most recent 2020, and songs that bring about different emotions, different feelings and mostly, a lot of memories of places, people and yesterdays.

“I am not sure what it is but I can listen to a song for the very first time and like it so much, even thought, I may not know what the words say, however, the music and the melody speak to me and there is something that touches my heart and tells me the song has a very special meaning”

About 2 years ago or so, I found a beautiful song on You Tube and I just love it, however, I have not being able to find the exact translation in English, so if any of you know, please, let me know, as I have a feeling the lyrics are powerful and the meaning is great. All I know is that the song is called “Hankur Aku” and sang by a beautiful Malaysian actress by the named Fazura and the Band Stranged Feat.

And just a few days ago, one of my cousins in Panama, which I have not seen, since we both were very little children, contacted me. We have been exchanging photos and he has been sending me music and we have been sharing anecdotes and recordings about our own families and our grandmas and grandpas and basically sharing information about our families.

My grandfather Claudio in “El Citio” Boquete in the 70’s

He sent me a photo of my paternal grandfather, which I have never seen before, however, that photo brought so many pleasant memories and so many great feelings. I was also listening to a song my mother used to play all the time, when I was just a little girl. The song is called “Para Que No Me Olvides” by the Spanish singer Lorenzo Santamaria.

I loved everything about that song, everything, and I had not listened to that song for a very long time and I decided to play it while contemplating the photo of my paternal grandfather. I really missed his kindness and I missed going to his house almost everyday after school, in the town of Boquete, to be exact, in the “La Mata del Frances” which if translated, it means the The Bush of the Frenchman. (When I asked my father one day about the name of the place, he told me it was named that way, because a Frenchman was killed near some bush, and in Panama, people called bush, “mata”.)

My grandfather was very caring. He always invited myself and my brothers for a cup of tea and home-made bread after school. We had to walk about 15 minutes from the school to our home and we were very tired, and some times, there were snakes hanging from some tree branches where we had to walk underneath, or in the middle of the road we had to cross, near my grandfather’s house.

I would get really scared, because most of the time the snakes were venomous snakes, and just by a whistle of my older brother and cousins, or calling my grandfather by his name, he would come right away and he would get rid of the snake.

My grandfather had this garden called “El Citio” which is a place that traditionally in Panama, was a garden with flowers and a variety of fruit trees of different species and where my grandfather cross pollinated many varieties of lemons and oranges.

“El Citio” was a very beautiful place we would visit almost everyday and where we would find amazing varieties of sweet fruits, and almost all of the extensive varieties of tropical fruits that existed in Panama, back in those days.

This was a place that gave me so much comfort and where I felt secure and loved and protected. This was a very special place to me, because it was the first “magical” place I remembered seeing, when I started to grow and learn about life. And I am sure it was the same for all of my brothers and sisters and for all my other cousins.

We all used to hang out at my grandfather’s place and I am sure he loved our company too, as he used to live all by himself after my grandma died, and all of my aunts and uncles had married and live in their own houses.

I spent about 1 hour listening and replaying the song, while I looked at many other family photographs I have saved through the years, and the photographs my cousin sent me, of other family members, some, which have passed on, and some, which are still alive like us, and still living near my grandfather’s house.

I remembered so many things and remembering those things is not sad at all, it is just nice. Yes, I missed my grandfather, but listening to that song gives me hope that I will never forget my grandfather and that he will never forget me either.

And every time I see my daughter, she reminds me so much of him. She has the same type of long hands and feet and very defined archs in his feet. The exact, same arch, my grand father had. And I tell her stories and I pass on everything I can, so she remembers those details and hopefully she passes these to her children one day.

And when I see my daughter picking up on things from me, it is nice that somewhat, she is being influenced by me, even if a little, because I know I was influenced by my mother also, and her love for good music, a variety of rhythms, and a variety of singers, specially from the United States and Great Britain. He loves Elvis Presley and Tom Jones and I grew up listening to them and the Bee Gees.

And of course Panamanian people as well as Latin American people, we love music and music is always playing everywhere. And I love all of the musical influences we have, specially the African one, which gave us the traditional Cumbia, my favorite genre of music.

Some friends and family members dancing traditional Panamanian music

I cannot help it but wanting to dance when there is dancing music playing, specially cumbia. I just feel the music and my skeleton tells me I must move it, so most of the time, I just do that. (That is another power the music has on me. I can really express my emotions through music and to me, dancing, is just a way of expressing my emotions, nothing more)

Some music is very energetic and playful, while other music maybe somewhat “sensual” as most people would call it, however, I do not see it that way. I think that some of the music and the melodies, more than the lyrics, allow somebody to “perform” just as if they were “acting”. (The music is the script and the movements are the interpretation of that music) therefore, my interpretation of a song will be to to either move my hips, my feet, my arms, my hands, or my whole body, and what I can move, and for other people, their interpretation to a piece of music or a song, will be very different.

Obviously dancers perform to entertain and for other people to see us dancing, however, for me, I dance because I can feel the power of the music and because dancing makes me happy and it makes me forget about anything else going on around me. The music moves me, even when I am not dancing. It takes me to a different place and it gives me optimism.

One of my next goals is to learn to play the guitar. I absolutley love the sound of the strings and I think it is so beautifil. I have always wanted to play the guitar, and I am seriously considering buying a guitar, however, because I need to be full vested, I am waiting a bit. This will be an investment for the long run and I want to make sure I put the necessary hours each day , to practice and practice and my beautiful guitar, the one I end up buying, will not be neglected and forgotten.

Ah, the power of music in all it forms. It has certainty helped us so far this year. There have been great compositions written and great compositions being made. And I just hope there are even more great songs written and sang, and many more great melodies created.

And to close this article today, I just want to share a link of the best Covid 19 dancing song this year, by one of my favorite “Cumbia” bands and a very talented songwriter and a singer by the name of Nando Malo, called “El Coronavirus” I hope you listen to and try to dance to it. It is a fun song that if anything, will make you remember that in not so good times, having a sense of humor and optimism, makes a big difference and good music really heals the soul.

-Nedelka-