Quizas, Quizas, Quizas by Omara Portuondo & Ibrahim Ferrer

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Wikipedia tells me there have been at least 53 covers of the song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” originally written by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés (“Quizás, Quizás, Quizás”). I have in fact, covered it myself. I know the song through Lila Downs, also Pink Martini, and both versions are emboldening & encouraging of emphatic pointing & DIY performative liberties. Emphatic point #1: the English version (written by Joe Davis) is not a literal translation of the Spanish lyrics. The Spanish version doesn’t actually have the world “love” in it. What are the songs in English that are about love but don’t have the word “love” in them? It seems highly improbable in American pop culture to choose NOT to say “love.” Love songs love songs that say “love.” Emphatic aside #1: it’s weird that YouTube has videos of pictures—stills, I mean. It reminds me of when people take videos of things that don’t move, like the Grand Canyon. It’s weird to see Doris Day’s still & smiling face for 2:45 but I like her version more than I thought I would. Sara Montiel is HIGHLY DRAMATIC and then I watch Omara Portuondo & Ibrahim Ferrer, and their faces, my god, their faces: the music is coming out of them in the pouringest way—there is very little performance. It’s the difference between a cover and a what? Is it the difference between a song about love and a love song? There is no self-protection, no layering, no covering in the Portuondo-Ferrer version. It is bald and you don’t actually want to dance, you want to stand still. But I do love Lila Downs, and she performs.

-Ellen Welcker

photo 1Ellen Welcker is a poet whose work can be found at ewelcker.tumblr.com. She coordinates the Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry, works in the Writers’ Center at EWU, and hosts SpoPo, a living room poetry reading series in Spokane, WA.

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Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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