Saturday, December 16, 2006

he who consumes white wine, popcorn, and sesame seed candy.


when i first heard this recording of babalu, i couldn't begin to fathom how something this beautiful could've ever ended up the schmaltzy signature tune of desi arnaz. i couldn't find any information on joaquin y diana, but the guitar playing, singing, rhythms, and the complexity of the interwoven song shifts in this 78 are unbelievable - and it just might have the greatest "ariba" ever recorded. it's the antethesis of the the campy "cuban pete" persona of desi's work; and it's absolutely sublime.

The song babalu, which was of course made famous by desi arnaz, is actually a tribute to san lazaro, babalu aye. according to the web, "December 17th, is Babalu Aye day in the Afro-Cuban religion. Babalu Aye is the Orisha name for St. Lazarus, who is commonly referred to as the father of the world. BabaluAye is the Orisha who governs epidemics and heals infectious diseases. Though originally associated with smallpox, many of today's worshippers appeal to BabaluAye for healing from HIV/AIDs. His colors are brown, black, and purple. His number is 17. His symbols are two dogs and crutches. He is portrayed dressed in burlap. He is offered white wine, popcorn, sesame seed candy, and a variety of grains, beans, and seeds.

Many Cubans hold a vigil starting the night of December 16th. They get together and light candles and make offerings to Babalu Aye and wait for him to arrive at midnight. Come midnight they ask for San Lazaro to watch over them and keep them and their families safe and healthy."

celebrate december 17th with a listen to joaquin y diana's babalu


Blogger Matterhorn1959 said...

Great post and great song. Do you think Desi was aware of the religious nature of the song or just liked the sound?

2:36 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

i don't know, he clearly understood the lyrics, which are the same in both versions... it was at a time when latin tribal exotica was popular with people like yma sumac...

9:37 PM  

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