18.3.10

ROCÍO DÚRCAL, “COMO TU MUJER”

10th December, 1988


We began with her, and we end 1988 with her; and unforeseen revivals aside, we will not meet her again.

It's tempting to call this the passing of the old guard in Latin Pop — or an old guard anyway — but as any honest pop follower knows, there are no clean breaks. Dúrcal, who began her career in as a girl singer in 1950s Spain, may be the earliest-born singer to top the Hot Latin chart (I haven't crunched the numbers yet), but she doesn't sound particularly old here, just authoritative.

That relative agelessness is due in part to the production, massive and tender by turns (while being very much of its moment), with those great trombone farts punctuating the hook; but it's also due to the direct, even stark simplicity of the song. This is nothing like the vague postcard-prettiness of the song with which she ushered in this project: instead of romance-novel guff, this is a showcase for adult passions, with real regret, rejection, and hungry longing despite it all. And where "La Guirnalda" was written and produced by Juan Gabriel, who gave her a pretty frame in which to pose, "Como Tu Mujer" was written and produced by Marco Antonio Solís, who pulls out stops he had left firmly in place with Los Bukis.

The lyrics are a monologue, a woman confronting her cheating lover. She still loves him — the first thing she says is that she's given him her life and more besides — but he's laughing, playing with her trust in him, and in a moment of breathtaking otherworldliness for ears used to the norms of Anglophone pop, she insists that she has to leave in order to prevent God from punishing him. Religion isn't a common enough theme in pop for there to normally be a noticeable gap between the way (ex-)Protestant English speakers and (ex?-)Catholic Spanish speakers approach it, but when it does make its presence known it's a very different beast.

The title, "Como Tu Mujer," translates as "As Your Woman," and comes from the final line of the chorus*:

Es lo mejor, me vuelva libre si tú vas a ser
El hombre aquel que siempre quise ver,
Aunque a tu lado no me puedo ver
Como tu mujer

Which I translate as:

It's better this way, I'll be free again if you will be
That man that I always used to see,
Though I can't see myself at your side
As your woman

I'm not sure anything this indebted to traditional gender norms (playboy man, suffering woman) can be called feminist, but the way it takes a principled stand for what's right is certainly better than, say, "Stand By Your Man."

*I say chorus, but like a lot of the songs we've seen, the structure isn't the standard ABABCB of Anglophone pop, but more like ABCDBCD. Which is a perfectly legitimate structure, of course — I just have to guard against thinking "oh I've heard this bit already" and remain caught up in the emotion of the singer.

2 comments:

  1. My search skills are pathetic. She'll be showing up one more time, in duet.

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  2. A little correction to the translation.
    When you wrote "me vuelva libre si tu vas a ser el hombre aquel....." is incorrect. The correct is "Vé y vuela libre si tu vas a ser el hombre aquel" in english "Go and fly free if you will be that man ......"

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