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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mikel Laboa is gone

The most beautiful voice, the most revolutionary musician... such are some of the phrases you can read today in the Basque press and around the net. And all what can be said is probably too little.

Born in 1934 in Donostia (San Sebastian) he was temporarily exiled in Bordeaux as a kid. Later he had to face the violent reality of his native language and culture being terribly opressed under fascism. After a begining as children psychiatrist, he turned to music in 1964, when (as member of the band Ez Dok Hamairu) published his first record, Lau Herri Kanta. From then on he became a most popular and beloved folk (yet very innovative) musician with many of his songs having been assimlated into popular culture as of today.

Yesterday he died at the age of 74 leaving all Basques (and many foreigners) torn but also knowing that his was a very full life and one that really impacted us like very few people can. I am not really an art-oriented person (at least largely not) but I'm always impressed when some of the size of Laboa (or one of his favorite poets, Brecht) can cause such an emotional and psychological impact around, a very favorable impact certainly.

As I've said above, many of Laboa's songs have become really well known popular Basque songs but maybe the one that is best known of all is Txoria Txori (the bird a bird), also known as Hegoak (the wings) a cry of love of freedom and disdain for opression, but a most sweet cry indeed.

The lyrics translate in English as follows:

If I cut its wings,
it would be mine,
it would not go away.
But, that way,
it would not be a bird anymore
And I...
I loved the bird.

Another very popular minimalistic song from Laboa is Lili Bat (a flower), of a more purely romantic, maybe philosophical, theme:

It translates:

A flower
you take
and, petal by petal,
you undress.
And it
also dreams you,
and it
also undresses you.

And also very popular is Aita-semeak (fathers and sons) that goes on traditional gender roles and nation building:

And we can't forget the super-famous Baga-Biga-Higa (one, two, three), here sang not by Laboa but the Orfeon Donostiarra (Victor of Music 000001 should love this one specially):

As is said in Basque: Mikel gogoan zaitugu (Mikel, we have you in our mind/soul).

All videos from YouTube, not necesarily original videos but certainly original music from Mikel Laboa himself (with the partial exception of Baga-Biga-Higa). Photo from Wikimedia.


Txo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Txo said...

Maybe you will like this version better, his voice sounds better than ever.

Maju said...

Sure. Thanks for posting, Sire, listening again to Mikel has been a much needed relaxing musical input. I've been just way too stressed these last days following the outrageous massacre of the Freedom Flotilla...