I come from that generation of peruanos who’s never seen Peru win anything in fútbol: we last made the World Cup in 1982, when I was five, and last won a Copa América in 1975, a couple of years before I was born. But there’s always hope. South America’s soccer championship starts tomorrow, and though we have a tough group (Chile, Mexico, Uruguay) right now, as I type this: we’re all tied for first place.
So I’m posting this sublimely patriotic track from Arturo “Zambo” Cavero, “Y se llama Perú”, to inspire fans and players alike to dream big, or at least lose with dignity. My guess is Papicultor is as optimistic about Colombia’s chances, as I am about Peru’s; and that Posoule is smug and confident after Chicharito et al won the Gold Cup in impressive fashion.
We don’t usually write about television commercials here at La Pelanga, but then again, most commercials don’t have soundtracks like this one. I first saw this Cemento Sol ad a few years ago, and have had its laid-back cumbia reworking of the Augusto Polo Campos classic “Te Sigo” in my head ever since. I’ve done my best to find the complete track, but had no luck. The song (and the ad) recognizes a shift that was a long time coming: the capital used to be synonomous with música criolla; now, after decades of migration from the interior, that musical culture has changed dramatically. In colonial central Lima, just behind the Presidential Palace, there’s a boardwalk named after Chabuca Granda, one of the great songwriters of the creole tradition—these days it’s pretty common to hear the strains of Andean huayno there, something unimaginable not that long ago. Cumbia bands like Juaneco y su Combo perform at the Lima’s Centro Cultural de España in front of thousands. The once-obscure Los Belkings (perhaps the greatest Andean surf rock group ever) play sold-out shows in the hipster district of Barranco.
The images themselves tell an important story—moving from central Lima to the anonymous outskirts, from the landmarks of the city’s colonial past to the newly-settled neighborhoods where most Limeños live. And the very fact that cement would be advertised on national television says something significant. While it’s difficult to imagine this happening in the United States or Europe, in the developing world, it makes perfect sense, of course. Peru is a country where most construction is done informally; where houses are built, not by contractors, but by the owners themselves, in their spare time, often with the help of their neighbors or extended family. In the ad’s last image, we get a glimpse of this new urban pastoral: working men place their hands gently on the grains of cement, and the thin metal bars rise like corn stalks from the roof of a house, backlit by the setting sun. This could be anywhere in the city, one of literally thousands of neighborhoods. I’d go so far as to say most of the Peruvian capital looks just like this.
The situation was very different in the 1970s, when the song was originally composed. In case you’ve never heard it, here it is, as sung by late Arturo “Zambo” Cavero, along with a slideshow of images from a city that no longer exists.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting Walter Goyburu. He’s the one on the left, wearing the white scarf. His son is on cajón, and the man on the right is the musical director of Centro Social Musical El Aromito, in Callao. I’ve unfortunately forgotten their names, but I blame this on the rum. Early in the evening, before the drinking began in earnest, we asked Walter to show us the difference between the classic and the modern styles of Peruvian creole guitar. This was his response.