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The Weekly Blague

The Passion of the Spanish

Aida Vílchez and Martín León Soto rehearse "If I Fell," by the Beatles, for their Nowhere Band show at La Tregua in Sevilla, Spain.


The Nowhere Man event I did in Sevilla,* in January, was the second reading and Q&A I've done in Spain. The first was in 2018, in Madrid. And what I witnessed both times was a passion for the Beatles that's different from anything I've seen in the United States in the last 50 years. There's an innocence and purity to it that I can't quite explain. You can feel it in Aida Vílchez and Martín León Soto's rehearsal of the Beatles' "If I Fell." And you can hear it in the crowd's response when they performed the song at La Tregua. ("If I Fell" begins at 01:30:50 in the video below.)



I originally thought this innocense and purity had to do with Francisco Franco, the (still dead) fascist generalissimo who led Spain from 1938 to 1973. He repressed foreign rock music though allowed the Beatles to perform there twice to show the world that Spain was a "normal" country. But once Franco was out of power and Spain became a democracy, British and American rock exploded there. So I was under the impression that the Spanish were making up for lost time with their passionate embrace of the Beatles. But that's not what happened with the people who invited me to Spain. Franco was their parents' generation. I now think it's more a case that they were born too late and they're trying to re-create and recapture the energy of this fantastic thing they missed. They do it by playing Beatles music live and listening to stories about them, especially from people who had a connection to it. Which is true in the US, too, but it's so much more commercialized here, which diminishes that feeling of purity and innocense.


The Spanish passion for the Beatles reminds me of the way I felt about the Brooklyn Dodgers, who left town when I was four. I was just old enough to understand who they were and what I'd missed. But there was no way to re-create the magic of 1955, the only time Brooklyn won the World Series.


*Forgive me for saying Sevilla rather than Seville. But Seville no longer sounds right to my ear. Two weeks with Aida and Martín and I feel like a Sevillano.


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