Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When I Wanted to be All-Grown Up

When I Wanted to be All-Grown Up
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Original Photos: 1. popsandlorenzo2, 2. lorenzoandpops, 3. Just the Two of Us (Papa Loves You), 4. Storm King Revisited 070

When I Wanted to be All-Grown Up
September 7, 2008, New York City:

I heard a song today that made me cry over and over again.

Of course, it didn’t help that I played it over and over again, but after the first time I found myself hitting the play (again) button, at least a dozen times.

Tóqueme mariachis, otra vez la misma, esa que me llega hasta al corazón.
(Play it again for me mariachis, that same old song, that goes straight to my heart)
Vicente Fernández, La Misma

Perhaps, because I am a father; perhaps, because I am a huge fan of the father-son pair who have been singing this song for over thirty years now; or, perhaps, simply because I am growing older and thus I recognize the passing of time in these sentimental lyrics, I was subsequently compelled to try and translate this song, Cuando Yo Quería Ser Grande, into English from the original Spanish song, so that others might likewise understand and appreciate the lyrical beauty of these words, its story, and how it is sappily rendered via one of my favorite genres of music, the Mexican ranchera.

Cuando Yo Quería Ser Grande
By Vicente/Alejandro Fernández

Se van perdiendo en el tiempo
Mis años se van quedando muy lejos
Ya no me lleva mi padre la mano
Solamente sus consejos

Viven en mi los reuerdos de niño
Cuando a una estrella desaba
Como recuerdo a mi padre
Que con eso sonreia
Mientras mi madre miraba

Años que vienen despacio, primero
Con que lentitud avanzan
Como queria ser grande, recuerdo
Para no quedarme en casa

Y acompañar a mi padre muy lejos
Tal vez hasta el fin del mundo
Por que mi padre era fuerte
Era muy inteligente
Era mejor que ninguno

Hoy ya no quiero que pasen los años
Por que mi padre ya esta viejo
Se la han cubierto de arrugas sus manos
Y de nieve sus cabellos

O señor deten el tiempo te pido
Por que tu puedes hacerlo
Por que yo en verdad no entiendo Dios mio por que
Se nos va lo bueno

Cuando se cansen un dia tus pasos
Yo quiero ser quien los cuide
Mientras tanto dame el brazo
Y vamos a ver que vas a decirme

Y te voy a enseñar a querer
porque tú no has querido,
ya verás lo que vas a aprender
cuando vivas conmigo.

De mis labios está brotando sangre
mi derrota la tengo sepultada,
hoy me entrego en tus brazos como en nadie
porque sé que mi amor sin tu amor no vale nada

Y te voy a enseñar a querer
porque tú no has querido,
ya verás lo que vas a aprender
cuando vivas conmigo.

When I Wanted to be All Grown Up

My years are slipping away,
Being lost to time.
My father no longer takes me by the hand,
Only by his words and his wisdom.

The memories of childhood live in me
As a star fades
the memory of my father shines,
How I smiled,
While my mother watched on.

Years that come slowly, at first
Oh, with what languor, they advance
How I wanted to be all grown up, I remember
How I didn’t want to stay home

And how I wanted to go with my father when he went away
Maybe even to the end of the world .
Because my father was strong,
He was very smart,
Better than anyone.

Now, I don’t want the years to pass
Because my father is very old
His hands are now covered with wrinkles
And his hair, covered with snow.

Please mister, hold back time, I beg you
Because, I know you can
Because, I, admittedly, do not understand
why, dear God
All good, must come to an end

When someday your legs tire
I want to be the one who takes care of them
Despite it all, give me your arm
And tell me what you were going to tell me
And through them, I will recover my youth, my memories.

And I will show you how to care, because you have not cared,
Now, you will see who’s going to be the one who learns
When you come live with me.

From my lips spill blood
My defeat, will be buried
Today I throw myself into your arms like never before
Because my love without yours is worthless.

And I will show you how it is to care, because you have not cared,
Now, you will see who’s going to be the one who learns
When you come live with me.

In addition to the poetically meaningful lyrics, one of the wonderful things about this song is that it has been sung and recorded by a well-known father and son pair of singers, Vicente and Alejandro Fernández from Mexico.

Today, Alejandro is singing to his father, what Vicente sang to his youngest son thirty years ago, and as the legend goes, Vicente’s father sang to him before then.

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to see Vicente “Chente” Fernández, El Rey de la Ranchera (The King of the Ranchera) perform four times in concert. The first time was in San Francisco. I’ve seen him twice since then in New York at sold-out shows at the Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, the latter with which he was accompanied by his son Alejandro. Billboard Magazine notes that he became the first ever performer to sell out Mexico's Plaza de Toros bullfighting stadium, singing to over 50,000 fans. Most recently, I saw him sing a couple of years ago at the Sharks Stadium in San Jose.

In his native Mexico, as well as throughout Latin America and Spain, Chente is known as a superstar of superstars, his acclaim equaling that of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. See Billboard’s Biography on him for more about his history of success.

2008 marks the fortieth year of his professional career, having made his first album, La Voz Que Usted Esperaba (The Voice That You’ve Been Waiting For), in 1968.

Today, his albums still sell millions, even after recording 56 of them. And now, the musical reign is being passed on to his son Alejandro, who also has been recognized for his magnificently mellifluous voice and who likewise puts out albums, 18 of them since 1991, which instantly sell millions.

Much like Elvis, Vicente has also starred into several musical films, 25 of them since 1971. And thanks to YouTube we can now see clips from many of them, along with concert footage, that showcases how beautifully both father and son have sung Cuando Yo Quería Ser Grande over the years. The ages stated here are merely haphazard guesses on my part.

Vicente Fernández at 32, signing to his son, Vicente Jr. at 6

Vicente Fernández at 35, signing to his son, Vicente Jr. at 8, with little brother, Alejandro, at 5

Alejandro Fernández at 20, signing to his father Vicente at 40

Alejandro Fernández at 28, with a funny looking mustache, signing to a photo collage of photos of him and his father over the years.

Alejandro Fernández at 36, signing to his father Vicente at 66

Today, Vicente Fernández is now 68 and still touring with the same verve, passion and amazing voice he did forty years ago. He will be playing, as he does every year in New York in October, again on October 4th at Madison Square Garden.

Not only have his, and now his son’s, romantic repertoire and heartfelt interpretations long appealed to the machismo in me and made me feel very proud to be both a “man” and a Mexican, but with songs likeCuando Yo Quería Ser Grande they make me feel very proud to be a son, and a father, as well.



Here is a song which Vicente and Alejandro sing together with grand elan and melancholic flair, which they have sung together over the years and which requires some impressive acrobatic signing: Perdón

Alejandro in his early twenties, Vicente in his fifties

Alejandro in his late twenties, Vicente in his fifties

Alejandro in his thirties, Vicente in his sixties

Alejandro in his late thirties, Vicente in his late sixties

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