Pure and gold

A few months ago, on the occasion of the funeral of Almudena Grandes i wrote a piece where the initial moments of the writer were synchronized with her farewell through a musical thread that sewed two songs. One song was 'A contratiempo' and another 'Wedding nights'. The first, sung by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio; the second, sung by Joaquín Sabina and which was chosen to sound at the last goodbye to Almudena.

All in all, in reality, the Sabina song that Almudena liked the most was 'De purísima y oro', a song that, like 'Noches de boda', was included on the album '19 dias y 500 noches'. I find out about this by reading the book that Sánchez Ferlosio's nephew, good old Máximo Pradera, has just released and is entitled 'They are playing our song' (Kultrum), a work that is quite a musical feast where Pradera, with the thug tone that characterizes him, enlightens us about the favorite themes of characters as disparate as Napoleon, Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler, without forgetting Francisco Franco to give way to women of the stature of Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Patricia Highsmith or the Almudena Grandes herself, who, in addition to listening to Joaquín Sabina, listened to Puccini's Tosca.

As Máximo Pradera continues to tell, the song 'De purísima y oro' was not played at the funeral and was changed to the famous 'Wedding nights' so as not to offend anti-bullfighting sensitivities. At this point, anyone with a minimum of sensitivity who listens to 'De purísima y oro' will realize that it is a song whose lyrics go beyond the controversy offered by bullfighting. Joaquín Sabina's song is a fresco painted in the ocher colors of the post-war period where hunger and black market were categories that, along with fear, took root in a harsh era full of disastrous symbols that Almudena Grandes collected in her 'Episodes of an endless war '. With these symbols she described the imaginary of those years in the Galdosian manner.

As it could not be less, in Sabina's song appears the figure of Manolete dressed in the purest and gold –in reality he was dressed in rosewood and gold– squaring a bull named Islero in the Linares plaza, an animal that symbolized his death and , with it, the end of the postwar period. Because every beginning and every end needs its date, and our post-war period ended for the collective imagination in that plaza in Linares, on August 28, 1947.

Therefore, if Joaquín Sabina had ignored the event, he would have left his song missing the most significant symbol of that time. Without it, the post-war rational narrative constructed from these symbols would not have been completed. To think that the aforementioned song by Sabina is a bullfighting song –although Joaquín is bullfighting– is to think in the wrong way. Máximo Pradera tells it very well in his new book.

All in all, sensitivity leads us to empathize with Luis García Montero, whom I met in person a few days ago and seemed to me to be a naturally simple guy like great artists and whose difficult choice in such fucking hard times must be respected.

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