the of Joan Manuel Serrat He was never a placid voice for the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Singing in Catalan and talking about the executions in the Franco regime were his crimes. On July 2, 1973, he had to pay 50 thousand pesetas to the Spanish government so that the Civil Guard would not take him prisoner. He no longer had much to do in his land: he had been accused of “insulting the State.” He then he undertook the safe escape route: Mexico.
Decades earlier, hundreds of Republican exiles had found a refuge from fascism on Mexican soil. Serrat knew that here he would find great friends. So it was. The first house that received him was that of the Taibo, an Asturian family headed by Paco Ignacio Taibo I, historian, writer and journalist. There, among hot beans, Serrano ham and red wines, he also met his two sons: the current director of the Economic Culture Fund (FCE)Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and the writer Benito Taibo.
In Mexico, Serrat He also met characters who changed him forever: Luis Buñuel, Max Aub, Luis Alcoriza and Juan Rulfo. With all of them he forged emotional and intellectual ties that formed him as a Hispanic-American artist in every sense of the word.
“A John Manuel he does not like to feel the center of attention, but to be one more at the table. I think that’s why he felt comfortable at the massive meals that were organized at my parents’ house, because I suppose that, in other places, there were reverential silences so that he could speak. In my house, on the other hand, he was one of the family. Therefore, he had to fight to take the floor as much as the rest”, recalls Benito Taibo in an interview, regarding the farewell tour of the singer-songwriter Catalan, who will close an artistic career of almost 60 years.
The author of Mediterráneo and Penélope called his last tour The vice of singing 1965-2022. His last tour of concerts in the country starts today in the Telmex Auditorium from Guadalajara; on Saturday, at the Monterrey Pavilion Auditorium, and on Wednesday and Thursday of next week, at the National Auditorium From Mexico City.
“We can’t wait to see him and, simultaneously, very sad to know that his friends and followers will never hear from him again. sing. It is a bittersweet feeling to know that we will be at the last of his concerts. Without a doubt, John Manuel It was the great detonator of the sentimental education of an entire generation”, says Taibo, who remembers the times when he accompanied Serrat to the stadium to see Atlante, a team for which the interpreter had a special affection only because he shares the colors with his blood club: FC Barcelona.
“More than once we went to the stadium with Juan Villoro, with Eduardo Mendoza and with David Huerta,” says Taibo.
BETTER FEAR THAN SHAME
The conflict haunts Serrat since before birth. His parents lived through the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) firsthand. His mother, Ángeles Teresa, was an Aragonese rebel who had to escape from Belchite due to the fascist bombings. His father, Josep Serrat, a notable politician and anarcho-syndicalist who knew the horrors of the concentration camps.
His mother was the one who instilled in him the taste for singing during housework. His father, on the other hand, inherited from him the fighting spirit that he embraced so much during the Franco regime to sing in what Franco hated: Catalan.
“I was lucky, I was born in the best house I could have been born in. I was raised with love and good teachers. I spent time doing what I liked to do, what I wanted to do, and what I thought I should do. I live, to date, a glorious time, in which the worst happened in my childhood and adolescence, “said Serrat in an interview with El País in 2021.
José Luis Cantón Paterna, an academic from the University of Barcelona, highlights the occasion in which El Nen del Poble-sec (The boy from Poble-sec) —as his friends nicknamed him— refused to sing the song in Spanish. song La, la, la, during the Eurovision Song Contest in 1968.
“Undoubtedly Serrat it remains an icon of Catalonia, a cultural flag for many generations of the 20th century. Serrat he imposed his voice in the midst of the Franco regime, when there was a real harassment and persecution against the Catalan communities, which were prohibited from speaking in their language”, says Cantón Paterna.
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In 2013, John Manuel declared that “it is better to be afraid than to be embarrassed”. And so she has done for 65 years. That is why he was not afraid to join Els Setze Jutges, a dissident collective of singer-songwriters and thinkers who, since 1961, took on the mission of promoting song Catalan through a cultural movement that would later be called Nova Cançó (New song). Her statements to the press raised controversy among the most conservative circles in Spain: “I like to sing in the language that I am prohibited from”.
“Joan Manuel is a very sensitive, sensible and intelligent man. And very Catalan, in the best of the senses, from a people that was so many times persecuted and forced not to be able to use their language. Joan has always been on the side of noble and worthy causes in Europe and in the world. His great legacy is the recovery of the voice and the word, the recovery of immense poets (such as Antonio Machado and Miguel Hernández) and the certainty that, if there is beauty in the world, you have to go out and look for it”, concludes Benito Taibo.