Take physic, pomp

The Friday OT: Calle 13; Latinoamérica

The best new song of 2010

Yesterday your humble scribe did a rough translation of the lyrics, which was then sent to reader/pal ‘MR’ and the wonderful Bina. They came back with improvements and thoughts and what you see below is an amalgam of your author’s translation, MR’s suggestions and Bina’s excellent Spanish grammar and vocab (that weeded out an obvious mistake or three I’d made in hindsight and came with better word choices in multiple places). However I’m sure MR and Bina would agree that any translation of poetry is always extremely difficult and fraught with points for further debate, so what you see below isn’t some definitive version. If you guys out there have better ideas feel free to add, but I will say that it means a lot more when you hear it in the original language than when it’s translated.
The song is heartachingly beautiful and reminds your author of why he feels so privileged to live in the middle of it all. The delivery is light, the voices spectacular, the underlying message spot on, it marks the point when Calle 13 moved up a level and became a great band, not just a very good one. Enjoy.

Calle 13: Latinoamérica
I am
I am what they left behind
I am the leftovers of what they stole
A people hidden at the summit
My skin is leather
For this I stand any climate
I’m a smoke factory
A peasant workforce for your consumption
Facing cold in the middle of summer
Love in the time of Cholera, my brother
The sun that is born and the day that dies
With the best sunsets
I am development in the raw
A political speech without saliva
The most beautiful faces that I know
I’m the photo of a disappeared
The blood in your veins
I’m a piece of earth that’s worth the trouble.
A basket of beans
I’m Maradona against England
Scoring two goals
I’m the one holding my flag high
The backbone of the planet is my mountain range
I’m what my father taught me
He who doesn’t love his fatherland 
doesn’t love his mother
I am Latin America
A people without legs that walks


You cannot buy the wind
You cannot buy the sun
You cannot buy the rain
You cannot buy the heat
You cannot buy the clouds
You cannot buy the colours
You cannot buy my happiness
You cannot buy my suffering

I have lakes, I have rivers

I have my teeth for when they smile at me
The snow that paints my mountains
I have the sun to dry me and the rain to bathe me
A desert drunk on peyote
A drink of Pulque to sing with the coyote
Is all I need
I have my lungs breathing clear blue

The altitude that suffocates
I’m the molars of my mouth chewing coca leaves
The autumn with its fainting leaves
The verses written under a starry sky
A vineyard full of grapes
A sugar cane plantation under the sun in a Cuba
I’m the Caribbean sea that watches over the houses
Performing rituals with holy water

The wind that combs my hair

I’m all of the saints that I hang from my neck
The juice of my struggle is not artificial
Because the fertilizer of my earth is natural

Chorus X2 (1 rep in Spanish, 2 rep in Portuguese)
My land is not for sale

Brutal work but with pride
Here we share, what’s mine is yours
These people don’t fall for dirty tricks
And if things collapse, I rebuild them
I won’t bat an eyelid when I look at you, either
So that you’ll remember my name
Operation Condor invaded my nest
I forgive but never forget
Let’s walk
We live and breathe the struggle
Let’s walk
I sing because it is heard

Let’s work out the way
We are standing
Let’s walk
Here we stand
Long live Latin America

You cannot buy my life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Hello, you are not in a chatroom, you are in my living room. Opposing views and criticisms welcome, insults or urinating on furniture unwelcome. Please refrain from swearing if possible, it is not needed.