Friday, June 02, 2006

Death of a Diva

You can live in a country for years, you can start to think that you really get a culture, and then, blammo, something like this happens to remind you that, no, you are always and will always be a foreigner. Rocio Jurado, famed singer of that unpalatable sap known as cancion espanola died yesterday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. If you happened to be in Madrid, you could have joined the 22,000 people who turned out to pay their respects as her body lay on display in the Centro cultural de la villa.

Cancion espanola singers tend to be of a type: buxom, leaning toward stocky and away from pretty (though you would think they all looked like Giselle Bundchen from the way they carry themselves). They marry bullfighters and have children who grow up to cause them heartache, and then, as if in middle-aged revenge, they adopt one or two more, usually from Latin American countries. They squeeze into flamenco dresses for their annual pilgrimage in honor a favored Virgin. They mount expensive comeback tours. They are regularly featured in the pages of Hola!. And when they die, their passing is greeted with the fervor that normally accompanies dead popes and dictators.

When Lola Flores, another cancion espanola singer--she also dabbled in flamenco and appeared in a number of films--died a little over a decade ago, her son was so overcome that he killed himself. And no one here, no one , thought to suggest that perhaps that response was a little extreme. So perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised yesterday that the morning news was completely--I mean, not one second devoted to anything else--given over to Rocio's death. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that among those who paid their respects yesterday were the King himself and Pedro Almodovar, just back from Cannes. And I probably shouldn't have been surprised that her remains, already viewed by those tens of thousands in Madrid, are again on view this morning in Chipiona, her hometown. I shouldn't be surprised, but instead I keep wracking my brain for a corollary that will make sense of it all. Would Americans have this response to the passing of, say, Barry Manilow?


Anonymous said...

"to remind you that, no, you are always and will always be a foreigner".

I couldn't agree more.

Hi, this is Anthony again, this time I'm actually going to confess to you that I LIVE in Chipiona, and yes, this day's events have been a little difficult to wrap my head around.

I mean, I was only 6 when Elvis died, but that's about the closest thing I can come to in trying to assimilate the local reaction here. Or even when Frank Sinatra passed, he didn't get anything NEAR the 24/7 coverage that Rocío's passing has gotten.

If I have to hear the phrase "La mas grande" just ONE MORE TIME...I don't think I'll be responsable for my actions.

So, I'm in my studio, with the door closed (all businesses are closed today) working away on a deadline for a client who isn't from Chipiona.



Anonymous said...

Se nos fué la voz... irrepetible, inigualable, jamás tendremos el gusto de contar con alguien como ella entre nosotros. Adios Rocío.

Almendra said...

I thought of Elvis and Sinatra too. Elvis certainly had the cheese factor going for him in his later years, and I suppose Sinatra made plenty of appearances in the gossip columns, but both were international icons, possessed (dare I say it), of a modicum more talent than La Voz de Fuego. And I'd venture a guess that neither Memphis nor Hoboken called a day off when they died. Go figure.

Gina said...

Lovely and ashtoning article.
I coudn't agree more.

I'm gonna visit your blog a little bit more these days.

Anonymous said...

Someone did think (does think) that it was the media circus around this was exagerating, as was the 125.000 people at her burial. As Spaniard, I think this is too much, whoever Barry Manilow is. I can't say goodbye to Rocio, because I never said hello.

Anonymous said...

Believe me it also hard to understand for many, many spanish. Hehehe.

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