Photo credits to Arjun Kachuru from Unsplash.

Joan Manuel Serrat: “Cantares”

Today, on “Martes de Música,” we present a very poignant song in our playlist. The Catalan singer and composer, Joan Manuel Serrat, paid homage to the Andalusian poet Antonio Machado with his iconic song “Cantares.” Serrat borrowed the famous poem by Machado, “Caminante no hay camino” (Walker, there’s no path), to honor both the poet and the concept of freedom. Machado passed away in France, exiled from his home escaping from Franco’s fascist regime. In the late 1960, while this regressive epoch was still on charge, Serrat premiered this song. He added verses to Machado’s original work, creating a timeless declaration against censorship and repression, urging us to keep moving forward:

“Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar,
cuando el poeta es un peregrino,
cuando de nada nos sirve rezar,
Caminante no hay camino,
Se hace camino al andar”

(When the goldfinch cannot sing,
when the poet is a pilgrim,
when praying is of no use to us,
Walker, there is no path,
One makes the path as one walks.)

Joan Manuel Serrat is a prominent figure in the world of Spanish music, his impact transcends borders. Born in 1943, Serrat’s career spans over six decades, and he is often hailed as one of the most influential and respected artists in the Spanish-speaking world. He’s known for his captivating lyrics and melodic compositions that touch on a wide range of themes, including love, social issues, and political activism. Serrat’s artistry has earned him countless awards and honors, and his music has resonated with audiences far beyond Spain, making him a cherished and iconic artist on the international stage. Whether you’re already familiar with his work or just discovering it, Joan Manuel Serrat’s music offers a beautiful window into the heart and soul of the Spanish-speaking world.

Original Machado’s poem, from “Campos de Castilla” (1912):

“Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino:
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.”

(Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship’s wake on the sea.)