Yesterday morning, just as dawn broke, mist still covering the mountains I see from the kitchen window, I fondly recalled a program we watched last year on Sunday evenings hosted by the virtuoso Yucateco composer, Armando Manzanero. It came in fromMexico and was set up to look homey and casual. Musicians and singers of local and wide fame were invited to sit and chat as if visiting Manzanero and then invited by him to perform with his ensemble there live. Each week for a month or so we looked forward to the program with the Maestro’s humble and gracious manners, his longtime recollections and of course, all the performances, including his. Yesterday morning, thinking how TV entertainment for many of us observing quarantine is our reminder of the world as it was and might be again, I hoped the program would return for another season. I miss Mexico. I miss dressing up and going out to dance, laughing at a table with your friends and sipping bubbly or a cocktail and then suddenly, from across the table a hand reaches out, which you accept and together walk to the dance floor where the band or maybe just a pianist has begun a tune by Manzanero.
Later in the day I heard el maestro had passed away that morning. In a year were legions have died and left behind even more who grieve, hardly anyone has gone untouched by the death of a dear. COVID-19 isn’t over yet and didn’t leave until claiming the life of another exceptional human being who touched multitudes with his music.
He was a lyrical poet of Mayan dissent who was passionate about the bolero genre. His songs are romantic vignettes. They come from a time where men/women had the public custom-kept their dignity even when hearts were broken and above all, upheld the dignity of the beloved, once loved, or the one whose heart he/they/she dreamed of having. The songs were translated and song around the world by many from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, from Simone to Luis Miguel. Here are a handful of his lyrical, melodic love stories in song. Que en paz descanse. Gracias maestro, por recordarnos con tus canciones que el amor existe eternamente.