One of those days, which seemed not to bring me any surprises, until my passing restlessly through the Enramada street of my beloved city of Santiago de Cuba, took me to the Amado Ramón Sánchez bookstore (Ateneo). In the search I found the book “Palabras”, by the musical author and guitarist Marta Valdés. There I remembered Haydée Milanés, and her record of the same name dedicated to this important woman of Cuban music. This book is a compilation of a group of chronicles, reviews, experiences and anecdotes of the author in her column on the digital site Cubadebate. This compilation was made by the journalist Rosa Miriam Elizarde, gathering these notes from 2009 to 2012.
Marta Valdés’ bolero creation reflects a finished artistic work that has allowed her to travel through time. Her harmony -in close interrelationship with the character of the melody and the meaning of the text- plays a fundamental role in this achievement, which has allowed her to transcend the references or behavioral patterns established during the 1950s.
Marta Valdés became the most outstanding figure of a second generation of the filin movement, and initiated a decantation of the sonority that had been dominant until then within the framework of the trend. Thus, her work becomes a bridge towards the appearance of a new song in Cuba. And not only in the order of strict musical aesthetics, but also in the poetic field. Compositions such as “Por si vuelves” and “Yo me quedo” are key pieces in the search for new sonorities and also in the rethinking of love poetry in song. With more than a dozen songs and a sustained work in the world of music were enough arguments for him to be awarded the National Music Award.
All his knowledge about relevant facts and figures of Cuban music allowed him to maintain this column that became an important text for the studies of Cuban popular music. What is impressive about this book are the jumps of nostalgia that Marta Valdés makes you live, after each paragraph, about essential men and women who are glories of Cuban music. Just to mention some of these chronicles, we find the one of Freddy, the singer who would go from being a domestic to a great figure of the Havana nights of the late fifties of the 20th century. Reading these three reviews about Freddy’s moments of glory is electrifying for those of us who have listened to such a singular interpreter; the words about Gerardo Piloto and Alberto Vera, is a worthy example of honoring the memory of such important musical authors and the little words about Celina Gonzalez, reminded me of stories I had always heard from other musicians about ‘La Reina del Punto Cubano’. There is a need for many books like this one, which reflect the experiences of a great musician from Cuba, like Doña Marta Emilia Valdés González. Because books like these allow our historical memory to be preserved and serve as a source of reference for future generations of Cubans.
It is also important to repeat the importance of Marta Valdés, because in these moments that we are living, the most important thing is the experiences captured on paper that we can enjoy in this text. It may be that the book is still in some bookstores in the country, in any corner crowded and covered with dust, so I write these words to try to lift the ostracism that any book can have, which has not been promoted with the required quality. I bid farewell to this kind of homage to this great woman, recommending her book “Palabras” and with the lyrics of her song “Tú no sospecha”:
You don’t suspect
You don’t suspect
when you are looking at me
that are being unleashed.
I swear that sometimes
I’m scared to see
that you have been taking over from me
and that I can no longer stop
the desire to be with you.
You do not suspect
these immense furies
that dominate me
every time you get close,
and although there has been no intention in you
to provoke what I feel,
you’re going to find out once and for all
that I love you already.