Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Nostalgia for...Beny More
I wasn't alive in the days of Beny More (pronounced More-ray), the Cuban singer and band leader who went to live in Mexico and became a massive influence on all the Cuban salsa bands.
So why do I get these gorgeous pangs of nostalgia when I listen to Beny More? Why does it make me think of a Cuba and a Mexico I never even knew?
My theory is that as a tiny child I was exposed to this music. I do know that after my mother left my father, I spend a great deal of time with my two grandmothers. One, Abuelita Josefina (known to her old friends as 'Pepa') had a wonderful memory for lyrics and knew many of the songs of Beny More. Beny More often appeared in popular Mexican films, which went through a golden age in the 40s and 50s.
So maybe that's it; maybe I was sat for hours in front of the TV while my grandmother knitted (she was mad for knitting). Maybe that's where I acquired this overwhelming craving for gorgeous night clubs where Cuban bands play for beautiful people, sipping daiquiris between dancing the son, mambo and cha-cha-cha.
This Cuba does not exist anymore - I've been to look for it. It's all timba and reggaeton now. That's great, but, ah nostalgia. I once spent a whole afternoon lying next to a pool in Santiago de Cuba, listening to the piped music of Beny More. That's as close as I got.