Unusual in his generation, Santiago Feliú was, for years, the Nueva Trova singer I most listened to. His themes moved away from the commonplace poetry of his contemporaries and he went on to create a personal and inimitable style. There was a certain real life toughness in his lyrics, lacking affectation, but lyrical. He stood out among others who were once rebels and ended up as officials, among the former long-hairs now with military haircuts and so many non-conformists who turned into functionaries in guayaberas.
A beloved folksinger, the author of “Para Bárbara” frequented gatherings and let loose with guitar, rum and people captivated by his notes. He sang in our living room now and then, and it surprised us to see him stutter when he wasn’t singing a melody. Like Baudelaire’s albatross flying high, but finding it extremely awkward to walk on the deck of a ship… a ship aground in this case. He was approachable, close, human, without boasts or arrogance. He was just one of us among us.
Dying, he has left us with the image of his untouched mane, his many colored bracelets tied to his wrist, and his dark clothes that became a fashion. There was so much life left in him, so many chords in him, the shy, irreverent, forever young one. He has left us, gone, like “those shitty days that will also pass.” But this time he’s not right, because “you are not my love” but nor are the others… it has just been Santiaguito, who in the middle of the night played his last note, chugged the last drink, and left us with his music forever.
*Translator’s note: A line from one of Santiago’s songs.
12 February 2014