On May 9, 2019, Thursday,
Mercedes Migel Carpio He put the finishing touches on a song that had been fluttering through his head for weeks. She stamped her signature at the bottom of the handwritten page, a custom that has always been with her, and she solemnly promised herself that this would be the irrevocable end point of her career. It was already 18 years of intense and eventful professional activity, of virulent ups and downs, unbridled passion on stage, unusual achievements (who could dream of a duet with Elvis Costello?) and disappointments that were not exactly small. And she had had more than enough.
Almost three years later, that song conceived as a climax and epilogue,
'White blackbird', takes flight as the opening and title track for the new album by this revived artist. She still with scars and the stinging from the scratches, no doubt, but strengthened by seeing that her skin bristles again in front of the microphone. Sometimes, during rehearsals, she notices that the emotional voltage of some verses is so high that those words get stuck in her throat. But Vega,
the woman is not always serene, she has learned to be (almost) unbreakable. The artist who could fall apart today knows stronger. And she is no longer just a blackbird, but a phoenix.
Between the collapse and the rearmament, one of those magical moments occurred that changed the course of events that seemed inescapable. Vega wanted to say goodbye forever to her career as a soloist
on Saturday, October 5, 2019, in the Joy Eslava room in Madrid. It was going to be the last concert of his life, although he did not notify anyone of such intentions. She limited herself to summoning some of the musicians and friends she most admires -Eva Amaral, Mäbu, Andrés Suárez, Guadi Galego, Budiño- to accompany her on such a unique occasion, and asked her technicians to record the audio and the video of the evening
He did not even bother to hire a filmmaker: those recordings were conceived as a mere private memory, the last snapshot of a dizzying career.
But Kike Fuentes, guitarist and court counselor For three decades, one of those squires capable of interpreting every word and every silence, suspected that the storm had settled in the mind of his leader. And she encouraged all of his companions to stick their necks out. Until the last beat.
"I ended that night with such a rush that I resigned myself to thinking: I can't leave this now," acknowledges its protagonist with a mixture of relief and resignation.
couldn't put it down, today we understand it better, because there were still many verses nested in it that he needed to extirpate from his head. Because there were demons to exorcise, thorns to unpin.
'Mirlo blanco' is an album of painful sincerityalmost reckless. It is the transparent and shaken testimony of a human being who has suffered, has scrambled in the face of adversity and has gathered strength to tell about it. "It's such an honest record -he sighs- that it's difficult for me to sing". It still hasn't happened once that 'White Blackbird', the song, hasn't brought her to tears when he performs it in public. But whoever gives his
41 minutes of listening will end up thanking him for this colossal act of bravery.
There have been two powerful reasons, for lack of one, why Mercedes has been
One step away from throwing in the towel. The second we intuited from his biography; the first, undoubtedly more serious, can be glimpsed in some verses of the song that titles this eighth studio LP. «Because of my condition as a woman», she notes, already bluntly, «the industry ripped my feathers to strips. I am the example that saying 'no' implies that the doors are closed to you».
The second destabilizing factor, of course, is easier to suspect. We refer to that, to what Vega defines as
"label ballast". The previous cataloging, the prejudice, the all too plausible suspicion that many have not even bothered to listen.
Tripping is like that: unfair, treacherous and painful. In the shin and in the soul. But whoever manages to overcome them can walk again more proud and upright than ever. 'Mirlo blanco' is the vibrant testimony of a human being who, despite the bruises, has returned to the path. And it has not been easy at all, if we add to the universal and objective anguish of the damn pandemic other particularly virulent personal blows.
'With you', for example, is a very passionate declaration of love to his partner after several terrible and consecutive losses.
'House - Madrid' It is the reflection of the sudden dislocation, the hasty and prolonged abandonment of the home as a result of the confinements in March 2020. And
'Bipolar' arises from a medical diagnosis that this new Vega, allergic to tabujos, shares with anyone willing to listen to her: a highly sensitive person (PAS), a chronic hemiplegic migraine that sometimes paralyzes the right half of her body, and an intellectual giftedness that places above 98.9% of mortals.
«When they told me, I thought: and what is this for? Will I have thrown away my life dedicating myself to music instead of working in Silicon Valley? », She summarizes with her renewed good humor of 2022.
The change in habits brought about by Vega with respect to previous works is not small, even the already very mature and applauded ones
'Wolverines' (2013) and 'The Fish Queen' (2018). Mercedes knows she is meticulous and detail-oriented to the point of exhaustion, but this time Kike Fuentes persuaded her to have all the shots recorded live in the studio, without retouching or make-up. With the heat and ardor typical of a collective interpretation and with bare chest; as true and stark as all the meanings and experiences that this repertoire includes. Vega hesitated, it is true. She wondered if it was a good idea, if they weren't taking for granted small almost inaudible imperfections. With the entire album finished, she dialed Fuentes's phone and almost implored:
- Could we record all the voices again? Please!
Producer and artist locked themselves in the studio again. Mercedes reviewed, one by one, all the new pages of hers. Concentrating on each note, pouring out the best of himself. They then compared the two versions, the original and the theoretically perfected one. They stayed in all cases with the first.
"That's where the grain lives, the truth, the breath"assumes the artist, finally convinced that her voice has never been reflected with such authenticity.
This music of 'Mirlo blanco' has something
saviour table. The author knows this and will always appreciate it. She understood it once again in November 2020, when covid left her with, among other unpleasant consequences, rampant alopecia and alarming weight loss. But it is clear, at this point in the story, that there is no one who can with Vega.
«The creed of 'Mortal', without going any further», endorses, «is that I feel like a survivor of myself. Like all the disk is redundant in that same idea. I have walked through the pain and that rabidly human feeling of moving forward has emerged in me.
Mercedes says, in this
turbulent 2022 in which we finally know the most complex and stark chapter of his career, that his true vital desires are reduced to two. Like the commandments. The first is conjugated in the present: play and play, as much as possible. And the second is a wish that others will benefit from: that some of his songs transcend it, and that within
50 or 60 years, or 100, when none of us present here can reread these lines, a man or a woman shudders with some of its pages written and initialed by hand. Handwriting.
If that happens, and it remains here noted for the reader of posterity, it will surely be with one of the songs of this 'Mirlo blanco'.
Little secrets of a music box lover
There will inevitably be those who wonder about the four punched holes on the cover of 'Mirlo blanco', both on the vinyl edition and on the CD. They are not casual, accidental or just decorative, of course. In fact, they were not exactly a small headache when it came to making this first edition, because it is a precise, meticulous job... and not cheap at all. But those four perforated circles had to be, exactly in those places and positions, because they correspond to the first four notes of 'Mirlo blanco' so that they sound with the perforated paper of the music boxes. An absolute personal weakness of Vega has always been, although perhaps only his most enthusiastic and documented followers of him were aware of these details.
«I am a collector of music boxes, indeed», confirms our protagonist. “I don't know how many I have, but…hundreds and hundreds. In my house you can find them in any corner. The first of all was brought to me by my maternal grandfather from Austria and included the Edelweiss melody. I was a little girl, but I was absolutely fascinated. And it is that same fascination that survives to this day...».
Things of Vega, unrepentant lover and against the current of physical formats. She defender of touch and contact, caress and closeness. of complicity. In fact, she personally chooses the texture and weight of the materials. The origin of it. Everything. She always with an eye on sustainability and fair trade, on the nobility of transactions. The commercial ones and the individual ones. The material and the human. Things of whole people.