October 31, 2014
Writing the first two installments of my series, “Saved” has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. It has helped me work through some of the more painful moments of my accident. Of course, it has also managed to help me re-live some of them, as well. I’m taking a break for a day or two. I do hope you enjoy my alternatives until I publish “Saved ~ III.” For those who would like to catch up, here is “Saved ~ I” and here is “Saved ~ II.”
I come from a musical family, music runs in our blood. Creatively, we have artists that run the gamut from singers to songwriters to players of instruments. And we are not pigeonholed into one genre or another. Our tastes also encompass a broad spectrum. We grew up listening to the likes of Ry Cooder, Dr. Hook, The Temptations, The Eagles, David Allen Coe, Vikki Carr, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Linda Ronstadt. My dad even had the soundtrack to Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke. And those are just the artists who sang in English.
Included in my parents’ repertoire were a myriad of singers who sang in Spanish and for the life of me, I can remember not one. Oh I remember the songs, just not the artists. Well, let me re-phrase that, I recognize the music when I hear one of the songs from my childhood, but not much else. I didn’t understand the lyrics, so it was difficult for me to remember the titles and the artists. Except one.
One of my dad’s favorite artists was Linda Ronstadt. And jut as my dad, her musical tastes contained both breadth and depth. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ms. Ronstadt, it might surprise you to know that she was born in Tucson, Arizona and she is of Mexican descent, on her father’s side. These two innocuous details, coupled with the fact that her vocals span several octaves, had my dad hooked. However, it wasn’t until she released her album Canciones de mi Padre in 1987 that my dad was truly over the moon. It is from this album that I randomly chose a song for this week’s prompt:
Select a lyric from the first, random song you hear. Use that lyric in a piece of writing of your choosing (fiction, non-fiction, poem, letter, etc.). The Twist – work the name of the artist into your writing as well.
I hit the music app on my iPhone, and the song Tu Solo Tu began to play. I downloaded the song when I was overseas in 2013. The reason I downloaded the song was two-fold: it reminded me of home, particularly of my dad, and I wanted to learn the lyrics so I could sing it for my dad. My dad passed away in 2001, and he and I both knew that my musical abilities began and ended with pushing the ‘Play’ button on his 8 track in our blue Dodge van. But I was determined to learn, and sing one Spanish song; it was the one thing on my bucket list I disclosed to no one.
So many things came together in a motel room in Al Mirfa in February of 2013, it was the perfect storm. I was 7,000 miles from home, I was by myself, wearing a t-shirt with a poem about being Chicano that my brother had written, and I was watching Arabic television. It was then that I began my first blog. I had been listening to Tu Solo Tu over and over and over, trying to phonetically learn the lyrics. I took a break to watch, of all things, a One Direction video. I remarked out loud, “What a great world we live in. Here I am in the Middle East, a Mexican chick from America, wearing a Chicano lit. t-shirt, singing a song in Spanish, and watching a video of an English-Irish pop band! Ain’t life grand?”
After the video finished, I turned on the news for background noise as I began to write my first post for my first blog. As the lyrics to Tu Solo Tu ran through my head, I was struck with the thought that I didn’t know if my dad would have approved of my going to the UAE to teach. It was a nagging, all-consuming thought that kept looping through my brain. It was just about to drive me crazy, when I turned to watch a story on the news of citizens protesting in Tunisia. What I saw next floored me.
The news program was showing protestors gathered in groups and holding signs. One sign caught my eye, so much so that I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture: The message is written in Arabic, but look at the first three letters: gaz. Dad’s name was Guadalupe Alejandro Zubia – gaz. For me, it was the vindication I needed that I was where I should be. And it came from the only person I needed to hear it from, my dad.
After the initial shock, I began singing as loudly as I could, serenading my dad. Although the rest of the lyrics don’t quite fit, the title of the song was certainly apropos: Tu Solo Tu (You Only You).