July 24, 2021

Vicente Garrido, the composer on the surface

Every June 22, Vicente Garrido he wore the same guayabera to celebrate his birthday. His colleague, the also famous composer, had had it done in Cuba. César Portillo de la Luz (DeliriumWith you in the distance).

I was moved that Vicente was moved by everything; for example, telling me about the prostitutes who with infinite tenderness helped him… if only so that he could eat. This, when the then young musician earned 15 pesos a day for playing from 10 at night to 6 in the morning in the cabaret of such little aristocratic prosapia as the sinful Hundred Flowers. They were in charge of exercising all ‘their magic’ to get their clients to ask the boy for this or that song, tips in between, which they completed for the potato.

From what happened in those nights, everything ended in something ‘in passing’. Except for the memory of this Mexican composer and his songs, which to certain lazy people are something more than just… sublime. Some are valid and have been around the world. And others, which are better than the best, we know very little about. But there they are and they float in the sea of ​​beauty and you never know when and where the tide will take them.

Of those famous themes that pass over the bridge from one era to another, the best known is undoubtedly Don’t talk to me (Don’t tell me more / what must have happened / before we met / I know you’ve had happy hours … / even without being with me ‘). It is a 1952 song that was recorded for the first time by that Cuban character who lived until he died in Mexico … Snowball.

Then they did the same The Three Aces, Pedro Infante, Nat King Cole o Fought Gatica, who made it known continentally. In other times Jose jose, Facundo Cabral or Nelson Ned made magnificent versions … in 1991 it is track number 1 on the album Romances by Luis Miguel, produced by Armando Manzanero (“I got him out of anonymity … and Luis Miguel got him out of being poor,” said the Chilean Gatica). Today it is included in their repertoire by the group Paté de Fuá, the Italian singer Filippa Giordano, the London Royal Pilharmonic Orchestra and several million souls in love.

Curiosities. El Loco Valdés sings Don’t talk to me, with Garrido at the piano.

He gave birth to other highly sung songs: Three dilemmas (with which he debuts as a professional composer), A week without you, Even if you come to hate me, Everything and nothing (‘Everything… what I have in life / my hidden tenderness / my illusion of living’) and of course You forget me with his that insurmountable truth (‘There is no continued treatment / the taste of caresses / all the little things / that are lived day by day …’). The list of interpreters is written briefly: all the most important artists of each era.

Vicente Garrido sings at the piano ‘You forget me’ … “the continued treatment is lacking,” says the lyrics wisely.

Garrido was above all a poet. At the age of 11, his father had already ordered him to edit a small book with his verses, which he recited as a bloody child before his father’s intellectual friends, such as the writer Federico Gamboa (author of Santa), the musician Julian Carrillo (creator of sound 13) or Jesus Galindo and Villa (president of the Mexican Academy of History). Or as a teenager before a Carlos Pellicer who wrote to him in a note: “… I have remained silent, full of tears, when I heard you say those poems, in which, in addition to the purest emotion, already points out the beauty of poetic expression… ”.

“The bloody boy” declaiming his poems at the age of 11

I wanted to be a pianist for the XEW and the only possibility he found to get on the boat and debut was at the age of 20, in 1944, as a member of a quartet called The Rhythm Eccentrics, made up of Raúl Morales, Raúl Zapata and another debutant named Gaspar Henaine, who over the years would become the very popular comedian Capulina.

When he debuted with ‘Los eccentricos del rhythm. To the far left who would later be ‘Capulina’

He found along the way how to put music to his poetry … listening to José Saber Marroquín and especially to Mario Ruiz Armengol, had shown him the way to go … with his way of stringing chords, as he confessed in a prologue that he did the honor of writing to this reporter for the book ‘The street of dreams’ where in an act of infinite humility he said: “… those of us who once tried to emulate it, we will no longer be able to reach it.”

The rest of his long and fruitful life was dedicated solely to embroidering with the finest of threads … with his white beards, the most subtle songs.

Perhaps he was a little distracted at the time when he was in charge of Public Relations for the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico between 1969 and 1972… and in the 80s he also joined its board of directors.

Or when he did business in three epoch-making places. He played ‘Rick’ from ‘Casablanca’ … he was the host of great artists in the Terraza Chantilly (Xola and Insurgentes), in the ‘1900’ (Reform and Nice) and in the Carrousel, of the city of Guadalajara.

Of the three places he always had stories to tell … for example, that the adventure of 1900 was accompanied by Irma Carlón as accomplices and as partners – his best interpreter … who continues to sing his songs with the essence with which he composed them – and the famous Chava Flores, who exercising his old trade prior to composing Pichicuás, The widowed cat O Cheto’s christening, was the counter of the changarro.

Irma Carlón, his best interpreter … sings in this video ‘Todo y nada’ -which Luis Miguel would take up again in the 90s-. Here accompanied by the perfect Garridian piano by Rodrigo de la Cadena.

His bar … the ‘1900’ of Reforma and Nice. There is that corner

A Vicente Garrido He was credited with respect and admiration for the paternity of the ‘modern bolero’ in the mid-1950s … but he was certainly not the only one. Without anyone agreeing with anyone, the band of the feeling… With which the old bolero changed its structure, its melody, its harmony, the care of its lyrics and above all, its slow and smooth interpretation.

They were already circulating in Mexico … Roberto Cantoral (Give me tonight), Alvaro Carrillo (I will continue my journey), Luis Demetrio (If God takes my life) O Miguel Pous (My love for you) … and they were already sticking their heads out Apple tree (Are we a couple) Y Arturo castro (Crying inside).

From Cuba Portillo de la Luz (Delirium), José Antonio Méndez (If you understood me), Marta Valdés (Words), Frank Domínguez (You accostumed me), René Touzet (I was thinking). Or in Argentina the Expósito brothers (Get away from me) and Mario Clavel (I would like to be) and Chico Novarro (Count on me).

One day Garrido told me… “Father of nothing! I make songs. That they play them to the rhythm of a bolero or a cha-cha, that’s something else ”. As if it was more or less clear.

His piano was of an unusual delicacy… with the intimate immensity of his lyrics. Those that are known, are already known … but you have to rescue, when you make time for it (it is a life’s task) a poem-lullaby By the shore of sleep… that balance of life that makes in Wind and to celebrate his 50 years of experience he wrote a jewel in 1994: The secrets of water. And of course Coincidence (‘I think … how easy it could have been … not to have found us … and in the things that were necessary … to be by your side’) and the The lesson (‘The most beautiful lesson / that life gave me / was to trust… / in miracles of love’).

And finally, perhaps the best and most important of all … in all its times: Paradox (‘… I was happier / without knowing / what happiness can be… / then I had nothing… to lose’). He should have gone to jail for writing that: he was about to kill a dear friend for that song … the painter Marcos Huerta, who had a heart attack midway through a recital.

Paradox with Carmina Cannavino. The piano is by Garrido, perhaps … in his best song.

Vicente deeply loved our Lucita … only to her could he have written it In your place. She accompanied him until the last breath. I remember in 1999, Garrido he was very serious … he had pulmonary edema in Puebla … and a first general rehearsal of his death. As part of which, Lucita wrote: “Beloved, take my hand and take me with you.” Four years later, so it happened. Garrido died in August 2003 and she, like a song, went after him six months later.

Curiosity: The rocker Johnny Laboriel, worshiper of Garrido. In this video he sings with the author at the piano ‘En tu lugar’. Gilberto Marcos Bohemian Forum Program.

In recent years … they recorded full discs for him Óscar Chávez, Elena Burke, Algeria Fragoso (conducted musically by maestro Alejandro Corona) and the last one, Carmina Cannavino. In them, he navigates his piano. You have to have them and feel them.

Also in the bright and joyful last years … he dedicated himself to organizing his work and his memories of the sensitive hand of his daughter Concepcion. From there came the book ‘Tonadas y chimeras’ that collected all his work and his artistic history. From more than 10 editorials we were almost run away with everything and the elegant cane of that charming old man. In the most diplomatic or clear-cut ways they told us: “that doesn’t sell”… “it’s a topic that no one cares about”… “we are sure that they will find someone else who knows what this text is worth and will publish them. Good afternoon. That they go well ”. When he touched the stool, the first thing was a naked joke from the poet … and two laughs. Vicente gave me a lecture on ‘not giving up’. Finally life always had him in a position to rise, fall and start over. Several shoe soles later, we find in Monterrey to the one who knew ‘what this was worth’. And that nice yucarregio, Alfonso Castillo, we edited the book. That today is a treasure.

The book that 10 publishers rejected: “that does not sell.” Today is a treasure.

In short, he was quite a character. We walked slowly to the Sep’s from Tamaulipas and Michoacán. He sat slowly … with his quiet little voice he asked for a huge veal breast … and he swallowed it by himself! He pinched a cow, you bastard! When it was time to listen to music, there was no talk. But like all those who have lived a great life, he was the master of a conversation … that he liked without music: “Doll, could you not do me the immense favor of putting on the record that you have with half an hour of silence?” When one of his songs was playing on the radio, he would say: Look, not many people know about it, but that was an Elvis hit … ‘from Elvicente!’ While his ‘mischievous eyes of hope’ shone … to this ‘wise man without grudges’, as the song they composed for him says Caito Y Enrique Ortiz.

In advance, sorry the first person. Today I wear that Cuban guayabera from every June 22nd. Vicente had said it was for me and Lucita dictated it in her will. There were some other things left, like a flag to navigate that speaks in the aforementioned poem by Wind on “the necessary insolence that men must show when they are put to the test.”

The most beautiful lesson … that Garrido gave us … is to trust … in miracles of love.

For those who have time to see it, here is the complete documentary on Vicente Garrido … directed by Jorge Prior and produced by Modesto López.