It is a pleasure to hear the voice of Amancio Prada (León, 1949), who even when he welcomes you early in the morning, still looking like a light sleeper and having just had the first coffee of the day, seems to be singing at the Olympia in Paris. I mention it to him and he smiles. You can perfectly see his smile because he uses a methacrylate mask that “my girl gets me in Germany.” His face and hair are white, and he looks like a character escaped from a Zurbarán painting and dressed in jeans. Singer-songwriter, musician and poet longing for silences and an enemy of shouting, his kingdom is indeed of this world: a kingdom in which there is room to fully enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Enemy of screaming, yes, he does not want to be mixed with artifice and stupidity, with scandal and guts. His is to calm wounded hearts. He has just resumed the concerts, in symphonic version, of the ‘Cántico Espiritual’ by San Juan de la Cruz, delightfully orchestrated by the composer Fernando Velázquez, and at the end of November he premieres his new album in Seville: ‘Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’, which collects twelve of his poems turned into songs.
– What is he still doing?
– I sing every day. It seems to me that singing is something that ennobles us. It is as if when we sing we take out of our interior the most noble background that we have. It is true that what was said before the one who sings, scares his evils. Little is sung nowadays, people sing less and less and that is very sad and harmful. We are increasingly surrounded by music everywhere, but with music that in most cases is nothing more than advertisements.
– What do you claim?
– A job well done, at all levels and in all its details, both in the artistic field and in all others. I am revolted by all that botch and laziness that many times surround us. I try to do my job better and better, because I know that a job well done not only brings joy to those who receive it, but also to those who do it.
-What helps you keep your spirits up?
– I try not to miss any day for a little silence, it is very necessary. That would be necessary: more silence and more to think that the one who has the most is not the richest, but the one who wants the least. This can be a good time for reflection, to realize what is really superficial and what is essential. To live we don’t need so many things either, what happens is that we had years of so much development, of so much growth, that perhaps we embarked on unnecessary trips or adventures. We strive to travel loaded with everything superfluous.
– And what isn’t?
– Focus on striving every day to do what we do, our task, each time a little better. And only to the extent that you do your part well can you expect, and even demand, that others do the same. And another thing: all tasks are equally important. The one who sows the wheat is as important as the one who tightens a screw or the one who draws up a decree on high. All jobs are necessary and nobody is more than nobody.
– What else do you propose?
– You have to take care of the affections; forgetting to do so is a very serious mistake. And you have to have a certain delicacy, a certain education in the daily dealings with others, in which you should not miss a smile. All of this is increasingly necessary.
– And in the face of what we do not like, what attitude to adopt?
– You have to adopt a double attitude: rebellion and resignation at the same time. Of rebellion: do not be silent. If the music is very loud or there are eight televisions on around us, we must ask that the volume be lowered. And of resignation: let us also learn how to turn our back on that reality and create our own space of silence, a kind of exile that protects us.
– One of his songs tells of a wounded wolf that dies in silence. One way or another, you always end up claiming silence.
– For me, the quality of life consists of having light, space and silence. And, also, in disturbing others as little as possible and in combining discretion with excellence.
– How does it get along over the years?
– I don’t spend much time thinking about time. The time is to live it and forget about it.
– No nostalgia, no regrets.
– That’s the healthiest thing, yes. There are those who defined health as forgetting the body; When the body forgets itself, it does not point out any point or remind you that it is there, that is, things are going well.
– What have you already given up?
– Life is joy, the sun, the clouds, the darkness, the losses of loved ones … I have long since given up being happy, I am content with trying to live in harmony.
– Do you believe in coincidences?
– Yes, from my own experience.
– How much innocence did he leave behind?
– Maybe I am now as innocent or as foolish as when I was 20 years old, or as lucid; I do not know. Most poets experience the gift of inspiration and writing at that age.
– Is poetry possible with an empty fridge?
– It is a problem to have it empty, but it is also a problem to have it too full.
– Don’t you buy unnecessary things?
– It is difficult not to do it with all the advertising bombardment that we are subjected to every day, but I try to be aware of what is strictly necessary, among which we must not miss a little time to be able to look at the sky without too much anxiety.
– What is necessary to do?
-Sometimes, get off the vine and start digging the vineyard.
-How do you see our country today?
– Things are getting very extreme, and in that I believe that we are all responsible, because we enter the cloth of some nefarious models – the anger, the insult, the yelling … – that one sees in Parliament, and not only in the Parliament, but also in some media. Nobody convinces anybody of anything, everybody is entrenched, there is no dialogue. You are ceasing to know how to speak and, as a consequence, you are also ceasing to listen. And another thing, in terms of politics: I have yet to find someone who, from the opposition, recognizes a success in which he is governing, and congratulates him and congratulates him for it; nor do I find a politician who, while governing, recognizes that he has been wrong – perhaps with the best of intentions – and appreciates criticism. All or nothing has been imposed, the much needed nuances are missing. There are few deep, calm looks on people and things; they are not abundant, and much curiosity about knowledge is lacking. To all this, we must not forget to add that there is a job insecurity, with such miserable salaries, that it is very difficult for families to live. Also in this the country is getting extreme: rich very rich, and poor very poor, people hanging around queuing in soup kitchens.
– And the positive side?
– Look, in Spain we have wheat, wine and oil; and we have seas where we can fish and bathe, and light and sun and fields to farm, and beautiful mountains to protect. And we must not stop being a happy country where people come together to sing and dance, where neighbors help each other, where families remain together, where the voice of the elderly is heard, where experience is respected and not lost. time in sterile disputes.
– As a defender of utopias, what is left?
– For some years now, in contrast to that ’68 graffiti that said “let’s be realistic, let’s ask for the impossible”, I am rather in favor of “let’s be utopian, let’s do the possible.” Of course, it is in our power to improve the world in which we live. Resign without a fight? Never!
– What do you realize?
– That one never bathes twice in the same ‘Canticle’, for example. What you really know is what you have forgotten, and you no longer even know that you know; This is something that happens with culture: it leaves a residue that goes with us without our being aware; it is never in vain, for example, to read Santa Teresa, or San Juan de la Cruz, or Federico [García Lorca]. Neither is it to contemplate a work of art, nor to listen to beautiful music.
– How is your life today?
– Whenever I can I live in the field or on stage. I can tell you that I have been working the land with my hands, for a few years, as I did when I was a teenager; and that I cut the old or dry branches of the trees, and I remove the grass from the roads and fix the things that are spoiled …; and already, in the afternoon, I work the air, because music is the tillage of the air. I’m still a farmer, as my parents were, and I still have the good fortune of, from time to time, to go out on stage and sing, and then I suppose that everything I experienced emerges in that song.
– Nerd. I am completely delighted.
– What about adversity?
– I cannot take care of everyone’s, I have enough with mine and that of my environment, but I try, knowing that not everything in life is roses, but there are also thorns, to know how to deal with the adversities of a harmonious way. Those of us who start from a hobby that has become a profession, something that I would wish everyone, have a grip that is very important.
Disk in confinement
– Satisfied with your creations?
– I always imagine things better than I am capable of doing them; that implies frustration, but at the same time it is an incentive, a stimulus, a motor. Now I have just made a new album, during these months in which I have been confined, with twelve poems by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. It’s funny: the first song I made, when I was 17, was ‘The dark swallows will return’, a poem that I love. A long time has passed now, but I have returned to Bécquer. The second poem of his that I turned into a song was ‘How alone the dead are left’. Imagine now what is happening: the dead are not only left alone, but people are dying in absolute solitude, without their relatives, without a caress … what an enormous sadness!
– What poem by Bécquer do you identify with the most?
– With one that fills me fully: ‘Spirit without a name’, which contains a kind of pantheistic mysticism that I also noticed in Rosalía [de Castro]: «I undulate with the atoms / of the smoke that rises / and the slow sky rises / in an immense spiral …. / I run after the nymphs / that in the fresh stream / of the crystalline stream / naked play …” . You feel that you are part of nature and that, deep down, we are no more important than a tree leaf. Bécquer had a rather unhappy life in all areas, but nevertheless what a mystery: from such an unhappy life emanated such a delicate and perennial work.
– Tell me what you want.
– It is better to suffer from pain than to be without love. I tell you with total conviction.
– Well, I don’t know, eh!