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Discussion: Babalu

MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:37 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Sep 12 - 11:10 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 12:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 Sep 12 - 01:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 03:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 03:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Sep 12 - 04:34 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:21 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:27 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:33 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 08:50 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 09:58 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 10:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 10:22 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 10:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 12 - 10:47 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 19 Sep 12 - 11:20 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Sep 12 - 01:01 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Sep 12 - 04:49 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Sep 12 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Stim 20 Sep 12 - 03:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Sep 12 - 04:28 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Sep 12 - 08:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Sep 12 - 08:39 PM
GUEST 20 Sep 12 - 11:09 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 20 Sep 12 - 11:51 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Sep 12 - 09:22 PM
GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1 07 Nov 12 - 03:15 AM
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Subject: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:37 AM

I recently recorded Babalu (posted on this thread and while practising for my next recording of it, I remembered one interesting thing about the song. The lyrics are written in Black Cuban dialect. Both the speaker in the song and the woman he loves are black:
Yo quiero pedir
Que mi negra me quiera
Que tenga dinero
Y que no se muera.
¡Ay! Vo le quiero pedir a Babalu
'na negra bembona
como tu no tengo otro negro
Pa que no se fuera.

Desi Arnaz, as a White man, basically was doing a version of blackface minstrelsy. As a Chinese woman, singing a song from the perspective of a Black man basically is no problem for me (I've done "Jean and Dinah" before)If I was White, though, it might be a different story, me singing "I want my Black woman to love me, and to have some money, and not die. I want a thick-lipped Black woman who'll have no other Black man and not leave me."

One other thing I thought of when I first learnt the song was, "I wonder if the guy's prayer was ever answered?" :). I think the reason this song appeals to me it's because it's about someone praying that their loved one won't die and will stay faithful. I think the basic sentiment of wanting someone you love to live is something universal.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:43 AM

And also, just as a matter of interest, does anyone else know of any other non-English language songs with racial references? Does anyone sing/perform any?


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 11:10 AM

Dezi Arnez used Babalu as a standard both in his television show I Love Lucy and on stage. He was maticulous about avoiding racial jokes. He was not black nor were his wives.

You will find numerous recordings of him on -line.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle
You are jousting at straw cows...please do not let your studies in school slide because of your new hobby.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 12:11 PM

A few facts about the song:
Music and lyrics by Margarita Lecuona. Copyright Peer International, 1939.
Margarita Lecuona was a prolific song writer. Her "Tabu" is well-known. She was born in Cuba.

The song touches on the Palo and Santaria religions based on spirit worship and magical powers. You quote (incorrectly) the chorus written by Lecuona, and published in her sheet music.
Many Cubans are mixed African-European, and some of them mix Christianity with African religions.

Cubans (with the exception of the top tier of more or less pure Spanish blood and better income) lack the English-based prejudice of Australians and North Americans.
Cubans have no problem with the song and others like it.

The version of the chorus you quote is not the same as the one sung by Desi Arnez, Celia Cruz and others.

Quiere pedi
Que mi negra me quiera
Que tenga dinero
y que no se muera
¡AY! Vo le quiero pedi a Babalu 'na negra muy
santa como tu que no tenga otro negro
Pa' que no se fuera.
(Lacks proper accents, I think there is a thread with the song. If not, I will post it later).

You should research the songs before you post fragments and ask for comment.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 12:21 PM

Additional comment-
The song is partially written in common street Cuban, not a Black dialect.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 01:08 PM

Thank you for posting some of the published lyrics to this song, Q. It would be great if you could post the whole text.

Morwen has been trying to learn this song and has been having a difficult time, in great part, because the lyrics that are available online don't seem to correspond to to the lyrics on any of the recordings.

As to your admonition, she is not yet an adult, and we try to encourage rather than discourage questions, at least among the young;-)


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 03:30 PM

Lyr. Add: Babalú
Words and music by Margarita Lecuona

Babalú
Babalú
Babalú a yé
Babalú a yé
Babalú

Ta empezando lo velorio
Qué le hacemo a Babalé
Dame diéz y siete velas
Pa ponerle en cruz
Dame un cabo de tabaco mayenye
Y un jarrito de aguardiente,
Dame un poco de dinero mayenye
Pa' que me dé la suerte
¡Yo!

Quiere pedi
Que mi negra me quiera
Que tenga dinero
Y qui no se muera
¡Ay! Vo le quiero pedi a Babalú
'na negra muy santa como un que no tenga otra negro
Pa' que no se fuera.

Babalú aye! [Repeat ten times]

Tourist or night club voodoo, not a serious religious song.

Some discussion of African religions in thread 118577:
(religions)
Also see Wiki article on Babalu Aye: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babalu_Aye

Published in sheet music 1939, Peer International, and renewals.

An English version in the Peer sheet music bears no relation to the Cuban lyrics.
While the natives kept repeating/ ancient jungle rites,/ All at once the dusky warriors began to raise their arms to skies above/ And a native then stepped forward to chant to his voodoo Goddess of love,/
Ah!

From Wiki:
"In the song's lyrics, the singer wonders aloud what to do with a statue of Babalú Ayé, now that a Santaría rite had been invoked by others. He suggests that seventeen candles be lit up, in the shape of a cross, and that a cigar and aguardiente be brought to him, as to pay homage to the deity. He then requests good luck, love from his beloved woman, and safety and protection to both."


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 03:39 PM

Second line of song- Babalú not Babalé


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 03:50 PM

Babalu (legal title), Margarita Lecuona, BMI, Work numbers 70089 and 70090; affiliation BMI CAE/IPI # 17607788.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 04:34 PM

Azizi Powell is the one you should contact.

On Mudcat she has described her interests in Caribbean music, African religions in the Caribbean, etymology, and specifically the origins and meanings of name & nicknames.

You may reach her through her website www.cocojams.com

I sense a kindred spirit with you two.
May you do well, live long and prosper.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Do you have your parents permission to be on line and do they know what you are doing?


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:21 PM

Stim: I'm actually 18 now. Turned 18 2nd of October last year, and will be 19 soon.

Apologies if this sounds rude, but Q-- yes, I know the racial prejudice in Cuba is not the same as in English-based countries, and many Cubans have no problem with the song. And I know they were written (I'm writing a novel set in Cuba, specifically, Guantanamo, where one character is Black and two others are mixed-race. How could I not know that?) I research everything because I write it or sing it
Here's what I sing (and also what I hear from Desi Arnaz and Miguelito Valdes' recordings. And the one by Herbert Curbelo. Maybe they played with the lyrics a bit. Or there is a possibility that whoever was transcribing the lyrics to sheet music wrote down what they thought they heard.)

Babalu

Babalu

Babalu-aye

Babalu aye.

Ta empezando lo velorio,
Que hacemo a Babalu.
Dame diez y siete velas,
Pa ponerle en cruz.

Y dame un cabo de tabaco, Mayenye (should be "Makenu", Arara name for Babalu/ Azojano. I will correct this in my next recording)
Y un jarrito de aguardiente
Y dame un poco de dinero, Mayenye
Pa que me de la suerte

Yo quiere pedi,
Que mi negra me quiera.
Que tenga dinero
Y que no se muera.

¡Ay! Vo le quiere pedi a Babalu,
'Na negra bembona como tu
No tengo otro negro
Pa que no se fuera

Babalu aye (x10)


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:27 PM

Herbert Curbelo's version of Babalu


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:33 PM

*by Margarita Lecuona*


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 08:50 PM

Ms. Lecuona was a diplomat's daughter, and also related to Ernesto Lecuona, the composer.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 09:58 PM

Mistake in 8.21 PM post *before*.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:17 PM

As a btw, followers of the Arara tradition of Regla de Ocha consider themselves to be the true keepers of the original traditions around Babalu Aye/Azojuano/Makenu.
The Arara tradition is quite common around Havana...


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:22 PM

Sheet music was published in Melbourne by Allan & Co., 1941; a copy in the National Library of Australia. You might get someone to copy it for you.
The sheet music can be obtained from onlinesheetmusic.com; unfortunately they charge $4.95
The cover page of the original printing by Peers International has a picture of Xavier Cugat; his orchestra may have introduced Lecuona's song to the public. A note on the cover says "slow and barbaric."

Various singers have varied the lyrics from those of the copyright to suit themselves.

Try and get a copy of "LATUNES," Gustavo Pérez-Firmat, Latin American Research Review vol. 43, no. 2, 2008, pp. 180-203.
The first page with abstract is online from muse.jhu.edu; I don't have permission for Project Muse.
A quote from Life Magazine. 1933, on the first page: "It seems as though there is always bad news coming from Cuba. This year it was the revolution, and last year it was Cuban music."


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:35 PM

Another thing that interests me: why does Desi Arnaz sing "bembona?"

Here's what I'm talking about> Nope doesn't sound like 'na negra muy santa" to me. Sounds like 'na negra bembona".


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 10:47 PM

He changed the lyrics to suit himself. Maybe bembona sounded good.
bembón, or bembona, is "big lips" in Puerto Rico, the same in Cuba.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 Sep 12 - 11:20 PM

Q, Desi isn't the only singer to sing the word "bembona". Even Miguelito Valdes (first singer to do the song, or at least to popularise it and nicknamed Mr. Babalu) sings "bembona." So I think he got it from Miguelito. Versions from 1930s and 1940s also say "bembona". I sing "bembona" because IMO it fits with the rhythm more than "muy santa".

So it seems like there are two accepted versions of the chorus around.

Serious question: if you change the lyrics to a song, are you contributing to the folk process?


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 01:01 AM

You could technically sing the second verse as "Doy un cabo de tabaco, Makenu
Y un jarrito de aguardiente.
Doy un poca de dinero, Makenu
Pa que me de la suerte,"
which changes the emphasis of the song from the preparations for the ritual to the event itself, making it more of a serious religious song IMO.

The reworked second verse means "I give a bit of tobacco, Makenu, and a glass of aguardiente. I give some money, Makenu, to bring me luck."


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 04:49 AM

Back to the Lecuona lyrics: who is Mayenye?

Incidentally, Babalu Aye's number is 17-- so there being seventeen candles in a cross signify which orisha the ceremony is for. I'd bet the song is set on December 17.
There's also a gender-flipped version where the chorus is:

"Yo quiero pedi
Que mi negro me quiero
Que tengo dinero
Y no que se muero
¡Ay! Yo le quiero pedi a Babalu
'na negro muy santa/bembon como tu no tenga otra negra
Pa que no se fuero.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 06:24 AM

* should be "fuera" and "Que no tengo dinero."

Does anyone share my opinion that with a few minor changes, the song could be done with a different interpretation, as a prayer/religious number?


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 03:36 PM

This is a popular song that alludes to the religious rituals, rather than an actual song from the religious rituals. I am not sure it has much to do with the sort of music and prayer used in Santaria.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 04:28 PM

Correspond with Azizi if you want to change the song to a religious number. She can probably point you to a genuine song about Babalúayé; it is poor practice to take a popular song and try to make it into a religious song, especially when meanings are changed. The song Babalú is really dancehall pop.

The god Babalú is male, powerful and must be approached carefully in African usage (some?), the god(dess) differs in Cuban Santaria rituals. Unless you are cognizant of the differences, any song based on the god will be meaningless. Santeria is syncretic; the Yoruba origin is muddied by Christian additions. Azizi can give you the African, but may not want to touch the Cuban version.

Language- You will have to select between street Cuban and good Spanish. I have a smattering of Spanish, but know nothing of Cuban slang or street Cuban.

Where popular music is concerned, I am interested only in the copyright song (as, in this case, the original song by Lecuona published in 1939 by Peer International).
Various reworkings of published pop songs by various singers (Arnez, Cruz or whoever) may be fun to audit, but, with their inevitably changed meanings, don't particularly interest me.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 08:00 PM

I will write to Azizi, but she may take a while to respond. Since I'm not desperate, that's OK. Anyway, I want to learn this song first before I try anything else.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 08:39 PM

Dangerous enterprise!
If you don't get it right, Babalú will unite Australia with China.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 11:09 PM

Have you given up on the Beduion experience?

How are you advancing on your Arabian novel?


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 Sep 12 - 11:51 PM

@GUEST: No, I haven't I've just put it aside.

@Q: Yep.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Sep 12 - 09:22 PM

I wrote to Azizi last night and got a reply back. And also, I found a good book which includes transcriptions of cantos and musical notation for drums. I have a friend who's a drummer. She can play anything except steel drums.


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Subject: RE: Discussion: Babalu
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 07 Nov 12 - 03:15 AM

(I'm not logged in for personal reasons) but here's something I found in my research re racism in Cuba-- Cuban racism and racism in Latin American countries is very different to racism in English-speaking countries such as Jamaica. In the 1930s, when Batista was campaigning for the presidency, his enemies (mostly members of the elite) commissioned political cartoons depicting him with exaggerated Black features, intended to create an impression of him as a wild savage.
He was called "El Mulato Lindo" and disliked that nickname because of the racial references-- race was used as a political weapon. Historically, interracial relationships between a White and Black (or whatever ethnicity/race, even between mixed-race people and people from another race) person in Latin America were not approved of. There's still a bit of prejudice against interracial relationships in Cuba now, according to the book Revolutionizing Romance: Interracial Relationships in Contemporary Cuba. And of course there's colourism.

Sidenote: In the now 28-page novel I'm working on, colourism is a big part of the plot.


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