Federico García Blaya
| Ricardo García Blaya

e was born at a time when rock was the music of the young. His teen years began, in fact, at the same time when “La balsa”, a hit of our national rock music, was released.

He was raised in the neighborhood of Saavedra, at a house shared with four families, only one bathroom and a backyard for them all. During a chat he told us that they were very poor. Her mom was Spaniard and his dad, criollo, of the province of San Luis.

His first connection with tango was because at that house María Nieves also lived. She used to dance to tangos at the backyard. Tango was the background music.

«As far as rock was concerned I liked Moris, Pedro y Pablo. I used to sing and compose with a guitar. They used to say that my rock was tango influenced. We belonged to a generation that listened to different kinds of music, jazz, folk, classical and tango. Mercedes Sosa and Astor Piazzolla were among those I preferred. But one day I discovered the album “A Homero” by Susana Rinaldi and it killed me, especially because of Homero Manzi’s lyrics.

«Simultaneously, “Balada para un loco” was released and I said to myself this is what I like. Horacio Ferrer has wonderful things, he found a new voice that told us that everything is allowed. Would anyone have imagined the subject of “Canción de las venusinas” in a tango?»

A stubborn admirer of Homero Manzi and Enrique Discépolo, he later followed the path of the greats: Celedonio Flores, Enrique Cadícamo, José María Contursi, Homero Expósito, Cátulo Castillo and Alfredo Le Pera.

In 1978, after our World Soccer Cup he traveled to Spain where he settled and worked as a craftsman. On his comeback in 1984, he returned to his parents’ home in Saavedra.

The following year he enrolled in a contest for lyricists and songwriters organized by the Universidad de Belgrano and the Melopea label. The six awarded lyrics were musicalized by renowned musicians and the music numbers that won would get lyrics by consecrated poets. His number was among them and Lalo de los Santos was commissioned to set it to music. It was a song with deep tango features and quite porteño nuances. A long-playing record was published with those twelve tunes.

«Since then I began to write a lot and I had decided that what I liked most was tango. I mostly used to write lyrics to be later musicalized».

When we asked him about the way he develops lyrics he explained: «In general, when I get in touch with musicians in connection with some music by them or one of my lyrics, we agree to do something. Sometimes, I write having in mind a musician for those words».

Since his comeback, with no money, he went on with his work as crafstman at a fair in Belgrano, and also as journalist in his neighborhood. In 1997 another contest gave him a good help.

The La Maga magazine organized a contest with an interesting goal: “Un tango a mi barrio”. The first three places would be awarded with the musicalization by an important artist. He was one of the winners and Raúl Garello’s choice was his “Fantasma de luna” in which Raimundo tells us about his beloved Saavedra. The song was recorded by Garello with Hernán Salinas on vocals on April 24, 2001.

As for his oeuvre, we shall mention part of it. With Garello: “Fantasma de luna”, “Danza invisible”, “Las manos de Horacio”. With Carmen Guzmán: “Soy de un lugar”, “Los artistas”. With José Ogiviecki: “Corazones tiernos”. With José Teixidó: “Tango y mugre”, “El tiempo puro cuento”. With Marcelo Saraceni he began and with him he wrote the largest number of songs, around 40. “Balas de salva” is the one I like most but I think it was not recorded. He also wrote lyrics to tangos by Héctor Dengis and Sacri Delfino, among others.

«I belong to one of the first generations of journalists that studied journalism. I published a monthly paper named La Luna de Saavedra for 10 years. In its first number I interviewed Roberto Goyeneche».

He thinks there is a new generation of lyricists which is very wide, with different voices. In this category are the ones we easily recognize by their way of writing. Some are more traditional, some more poetic, some more metaphorical and others more lunfardesque. He acknowledges, among others, Ernesto Pierro, Alejandro Szwarcman, Bibi Albert, Adrián Abonizio, Marta Pizzo, Acho Estol, Patricia Ferro Olmedo and the singer-songwriters María José Demare, Claudia Levy and Alfredo Rubín.

«The new lyrics are gradually being recorded by young artists. An interesting material is the double-disc by Guillermo Fernández, “De gitanos y tangueros”, almost entirely with new songs. The music was written by the leader/singer and the lyrics by Luis González.»

As for his tango “Las manos de Horacio” we asked him: why Horacio’s hands?, and he answered: «I have a special liking for Ferrer. I dedicated that title to him without a rational explanation. It’s a metaphor that tries to be original. I attempted to do something different and I liked the poetical image».

But then he returns to the greats and confesses: «I’m still discovering Manzi and he still amazes me. There are things that Discépolo did that are stories quite difficult to write and, even harder if built as a tango». He gives “Uno” as an example because of its painful lines. And he ends up saying: «Lastly I’m infatuated with Cátulo».

Presently he is teacher of a course of lyrics writing at the Programa Cultural en Barrios of the Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. This course has been taught for seven years in the neighborhood of Colegiales. It stresses the theoretical basis, the techniques of song, rhetoric and poetry. «In that course I started with workshops on journalism. One day I suggested this course, they trusted me and the other one was over».

«I teach my students about jazz, folk music, tango and I introduce them to the great poets of those genres, Armando Tejada Gómez, Jim Morrison, Joan Manuel Serrat, Homero Manzi».

He wrote books of poems Ciudad Malvón (1977); A pesar del mar (1985) and Todo es agua (2004), one of narrations illustrated by the artist Mauricio Nízzero, La leyenda de Tzébor and a musical work, El callejón del siglo.

Between 1999 and 2002 he created and published the virtual literary magazine Encuentro de los Lunes, weekly distributed by e-mail to over 20 countries of America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

And among other awards he won: in 2002 the Primer Premio Certamen de tangos Hugo del Carril, by the Secretaría de Cultura del Gobierno de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, in the category unpublished tangos, with “Soy cantor [b]”; in 2004, the First Prize at the Certamen de Tango by the Fondo Nacional de las Artes, for his waltz “Historia de amor con parque”. He was also winner in the category Milonga, with “Milonga de los arroyos” and was Primera Mención, in the category Tango, with “De los puertos”.

Lastly there is something to highlight, which reveals the love for his neighborhood, he is a fan of Platense and played soccer for its junior divisions.