Search

 Home 
 History 
 Instruments 
 Music genres 
 Artists 
 Essays 
 Audio clips 
 Lyrics 
 Mr Salsa 
 Glossary 
 Links 
 Reference 
 About this site 
 FAQ 
See the list of new pages
Contact  |  Subscribe



Print

Essays:

What Does the Music of Puerto Rico Say About Puerto Ricans?


Contents:

Immigration Ills - p 5

Immigration Ills

According to the United States Census Bureau, there were almost 4 million Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico in the year 2000. That same year, according to the Bureau, there were more than 3 and a quarter million Puerto Ricans living in the United States. Untold numbers, although certainly much smaller, live in other countries around the globe.

No other modern migration of people can equal the number of migrants compared to the base population that characterized the migration of Puerto Ricans to United States.

A study published by the People Of America Foundation reports that there were three distinct phases of Puerto Rican migration to the United States:

  • The wave of "pioneers" who migrated between 1900-1945
  • The "Great Migration" between 1946-1964
  • The "revolving-door migration" from 1965 to the present

The Statue of Liberty

The study also reports that vast majority of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York City although the present trend shows a wider geographic dispersion.

Was the migration of such a large number of Puerto Ricans to the United States any different than prior and subsequent immigrant groups? If so, how was it different? While the census numbers do not speak of the qualitive issues experienced by Puerto Ricans, the music certainly does.

In the song,  Pablo Pueblo (complete lyrics), salsa artist, Rubén Blades sings of the plight of Pablo, the prototypical Puerto Rican immigrant to New York. Although songwriter Blades is Panamanian, his connection to and knowledge of the Puerto Rican community is well known and is generally acknowleged to speak with authority on the subject of their culture.

Pablo Pueblo (partial lyrics)

Regreso un hombre en silencio de su trabajo cansado
Su paso no lleva prisa su sombra nunca lo alcanza
Lo espera el barrio de siempre con el farol en la esquina
Con la basura en el frente y el ruido de la cantina

Pablo Pueblo llega hasta el zaguán oscuro
Y vuelve a ver las paredes con las viejas papeletas
Que prometian futuros en lides politiqueras
Y en su cara se dibuja la decepcion de la espera

Pablo Pueblo hijo del grito y la calle
De la miseria y del hambre del callejon y la pena
Pablo Pueblo su alimento es la esperanza
Su paso no lleva prisa su sombra nunca lo alcanza

Llega al patio pensativo y cabizbajo
En su silencio de cobre con los gritos por abajo
La ropa alla en los balcones el viento la va secando
Escucha un trueno en el cielo tiempo de lluvia avisando

Entra al cuarto y se queda mirando
A su mujer y a los ninos y se pregunta hasta cuando
Toma su suenos raidos los parcha con esperanzas
Hace del hambre una halmohada y se acuesta triste de alma

Pablo Pueblo hijo del grito y la calle
De la miseria y del hambre del callejon y la pena
Pablo Pueblo su alimento es la esperanza
Su paso no lleva prisa su sombra nunca lo alcanza

Coro :
Pablo Pueblo, Pablo hermano
...(continua)

A man returned tired from his work in silence
His pace is not hurried, his shadow never reaches him
The same old "barrio" awaits him, with the light on the corner
With trash out front and noise from the bar

Pablo Pueblo reaches the awning of the front door
and sees again the walls covered with old newspapers
promising a brighter future by political leaders
and in his face was etched the deception of the wait

Pablo Pueblo, son of the scream and of the street
of misery and hunger in this street and anguish
Pablo Pueblo, his sustenance is hope
His pace is not hurried, his shadow never reaches him

He reaches the patio, pensative and head bowed
In his copper silence and muffled screams
The clothes hanging in the balconies drying in the breeze
He hears thunder in the sky warning of rain

He enters the room and stares
at his wife and children, asking himself how long
his frayed dreams will give them hope
He turns his hunger into a pillow and lays down with saddened soul

Pablo Pueblo, son of the cry and of the street
of misery and hunger in this street and anguish
Pablo Pueblo, his sustenance is hope
His pace is not hurried, his shadow never reaches him

Chorus: Pablo Pueblo, Pablo brother
...(continues)

Lyrics translated by Jaime Serrat

One key to applying the lessons of this song to an understanding of Puerto Ricans and their culture, is the phrase:

In his copper silence and muffled screams

The typical Puerto Rican is long-suffering; able to patiently endure in silence and control his anguish. It stems from a deeply embedded trait that similarly leads him to be a Gentle Patriot (p 3 of this essay). Yet this song even more clearly speaks to the stoicism that is balanced by hope.

It is also useful to understand the deep commitment to family. It is likely that the limits of what Pablo Pueblo can endure, are stretched by his love for wifwe and children.

While these insights into the character of Puerto Ricans is not unique, indeed, most cultures do exhibit strong familial bonds, they are still valid glimpses of the true nature Puerto Ricans.

The Lament of Poverty - p 4       Looking for Work - p 6

Other websites by this publisher: jimserrat.com  AND  carletteandjim.com




Top