Fresh Flavor For Your Ears: 7 New Latin Songs: Alt.Latino: NPR

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Fado singer Ana Moura stole our heart this week

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Traveling for leisure is a modern concept. Before the mid-19th century, voyaging for fun (and sometimes for health reasons) was limited to the wealthy. For everyone else, traveling was either out of necessity (diaspora) or vocation: sailors, explorers, the military. One of my favorite works of literature, The Odyssey , is heavy with the melancholy inherent in knowing you have been destined to roam the Earth. It is fate, and if there was one thing the Greeks knew well, it was that you do not escape fate. The melancholy of those who roamed like Odysseus was also in resigned terror of the possibility that one might never return.

This week on Alt.Latino , we delve into something we have not paid much attention to the past: fado, one of the most hauntingly sad genres of music. Born in the ports of Portugal, fado is rooted in the Latin word fatum (fate) and consists simply of a singer's laments, interwoven with guitar. One of the oldest known forms of fado is sailor fado , or the sailor's fado, sung for and by sailors at the port. Sample lyrics: "Lost in the high seas / A poor ship walked / Already without a cracker and aimless / The hunger of all kills." (Lost in the high seas / a poor boat wandered / with no food and no direction / hunger was killing them all.)

In our increasingly interconnected world, travel is for leisure and for work; yet a considerable portion of humanity embarks on voyages of diaspora that Odysseus himself would fear. The circumstances are different, but the melancholy, the longing and the resigned terror of the possibility of never finding a home is the same. And for those of us privy to conversations that happen behind the closed doors of immigrant communities, the desperation and frustration, the sense of being fated to roam the world forever is real.

But then again, even Odysseus made it back home Join us today for some exceptionally good music and conversation, and as always, we hope you can join in and let us know what you've been listening to lately, and what is your mind.

the sheer pleasure of traveling is a modern concept. Before the mid-19th century, traveling for taste (or health) was exclusively for the more aristocratic classes. For all other human beings, traveling was by necessity or by profession, such as merchants, sailors, explorers or the military.

One of my favorite literary works, The Odyssey, is saturated with the melancholy and terror that the act of traveling in ancient times entailed. And if there is something the Greeks knew, it is impossible to escape fate, so some should purge the penalty of knowing that one is destined to wander the earth. Of course, the melancholy of those travelers, like that of Odysseus, was largely terror resigned to the possibility - very real in those times - of never to return.

At this week's show, we hear Cuando O Sol Peek De Novo (When the sun rises again), a warm fado by the charming Ana Moura. We closed the show with a much less sweet song: "ICE, El Hielo" by the Chicano band La Santa Cecilia. Although the comparison between fado, the music of the Portuguese sailors, and a song about immigration, I think it is the same emotion that runs in the veins of both songs. In our increasingly interconnected world, traveling for many of us is synonymous with pleasure (and work); but much of humanity is forced to travel diaspora, facing dangers and monsters that would make Odysseus tremble. The circumstances are different, but that melancholy, that longing, that terror resigned to perhaps never having a place to settle in this world, are the same. Homer did not write much about the routine conversations that Odysseus would have in his day-to-day life while he was having lunch or cutting his nails. But I bet they were not so different from the conversations we hear every day that we are part of the immigrant community. The same desperation, frustration, and the tremendous suspicion that everything is fatum - the fate of wandering the world forever.

On the other hand, one must remember that even Odysseus was able to complete his journey. It took him a lot, and when things came they had changed a lot. But he did it.

I hope you enjoy today's program; we have exceptionally good music, lots of conversation, and as always, we want to hear from you, our listener. Tell us what you've been listening to lately.

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