I havent posted anything further on the death of Cachao as I havent really been able to do justice with words to what he and his music mean to me.
The following by Marquito at Cigars, Rum and Grace expresses my sentiments with incredible beauty and grace:

I’m 37 years old, and only began appreciating the music of this maestro with the release of his Master Sessions in the 90’s. The effect those recording have on me is hard to describe. You have to be the son of Cuban parents — mystified by the memory of a Cuba known to you only through the eyes of your parents — to understand.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my back porch, smoking a Padron 1964. I’m reflecting on what it means to be Cuban, without having ever set foot on the island. I’m reflecting on the word legacy. I am again, mystified by life and the many twists in the road; what it means to live 89 years and have accomplished so much.
I’m reflecting on my father and his 67 years and the many twists and turns in his road; on my mother and the legacy of love she has left for me.
I am prompted suddenly to think of my life; where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going.
The slow, melodic rhythm of a Danzon Cubano is playing in my head. The strings are hypnotizing. Cachao and his orchestra sound amazing.
Earlier this week amidst the busyness of moving to a new home and trying to catch up with my work; of making sure my wife and our soon to be born son are comfortable; of making sure my daughter knows she is loved deeply by her father, I thought of what it means to be Cuban. Am I Cuban-American, or just plain American? Do I want to associate myself with the madness of a nation whose leader has raped and destroyed his people, or do I embrace the nation that is my home and I have loved for its rich history of freedom?
Is being Cuban a title given exclusively to those born on the rich soil of that island whose soul has been ripped in two?
Sometimes, I know I am American. Sometimes, I just don’t know.
When you live the memories of your parents, when you see the streets of Santiago de las Vegas in your mind even though you’ve never been there, when you see the waves crashing on the walls of El Malecon, or drive through the tunnel to Havana sitting on the bus bench next to your father, you just don’t know.
When you walk into the house your mother and father lived in when they first married and see how small the bedroom was that they had to jump right into bed in order to step into the room, or watch your great grandmother prepare cafe con leche for your father every morning before going to school, you just don’t know.
When you see your father flying paper kites with his cousins under the sun and palm trees of a colonial Spanish town, you just don’t know.
When you see your father courting your mother in a beautiful park lined with ancient trees, always under the watchful eye of your grandmother looking beautiful with her bright blue eyes, you just don’t know.
So tonight, I am Cuban, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can say to me otherwise.
Tonight, I can say que fui a Santiago de las Vegas; I went to the town of my parents. The place they called home.
I can always count on Cachao and his music to take me to that place where I can be Cuban. For that I am ever grateful.

You can read it in Spanish, right here.

4 thoughts on “Cachao”

  1. I don’t know about Val, but right now my face is wet with tears. Cachao takes me to El Cerro en La Habana. More precise, to La Calle Clavel, entre San Pablo Y Auditor. To the living room where music was always playing on the old record player and my mother who is still a great dancer at 89, trying to teach her little girl to dance to great Cuban music. I never could dance as good as she does, even to this day with her cane in hand, but I carry that music in my blood and my feet move whenever I hear it. Cachao, may he rest in peace and live forever in our hearts.

  2. Thanks Val, you need a tissue warning on this one, a whole box.
    Cachao’s music has accompanied my life, enriched my life, provided rhythm and color for my life.I count myself lucky to have lived in his time, and especially honored to have seen him play, and to have met him.
    “I can always count on Cachao and his music to take me to that place where I can be Cuban. For that I am ever grateful.”
    Thanks Maestro.

  3. As a white Southerner, I confess I’m not at all familiar with Cachao and his music, and obviously I never had my country stolen from me by a mass-murdering dictator. I think the closest I come to that is the way lefties in a sense have some control over the South in the way it’s portrayed in the media, and I get sad when I see such portrayals and then by contrast hear slide guitars and blues harmonica that remind me of the good times and good things about Eastern NC.

    But I admit it’s a weak comparison because I can still go to NC if I want, whereas you guys can’t go to Cuba, at least not in any real, enjoyable peaceful way.

    Someday Cuba will be free and large numbers of you will go and leave South Florida and NJ and Philly and all the other Cuban-American neighborhoods around the country to go back there to stay. There will be some downsides to that — you may experience some resentment from the people who’ve lived in Cuba all their lives, something like the friction and culture shock between the East and West Germans when the Berlin Wall fell, and all the growing pains of transforming a country and people that has known only a boot on its neck to a thriving democracy. And the conservative movement here in the States will miss you very much. You are single-handedly responsible for us not having a President Gore finishing his 2nd term right now.

    But all of that would be a small price to pay for a new democratic Cuba that would link arms with the USA and stand up to the UN and Islamic terrorism and FARC and the Chavistas, etc., not to mention finally a real airing of the bloody laundry of the Castro machine.

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