To continue with the seasonal theme of the Spanish Civil War, here is a version of The Clash’s Spanish Bombs, performed by the Mexican singer Cecilia Bastida. As she mentions in her introduction, she originally sang a more up tempo version of the song with the band Tijuana No.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a “sophisticated” dismissal of this song. Naive … overly romantic about the Republicans … reduces complex situation to sloganeering … factual inaccuracies … tokenistic. No doubt you could slip in the fact that Strummer was educated at a public school. On the other hand, it was – and remains – hugely popular in Spain, as the comments attached in Spanish to the various other versions available on YouTube will attest.
It probably didn’t help that the version of the lyrics printed on the original sleeve reduced the section sung in Spanish to near-gibberish. I believe this was because Ray Lowry had to try to reproduce what was being sung without the aid of a lyric sheet and – as he couldn’t speak Spanish – that was the best he could come up with. Bastida restores the original sense (or some sense, anyway) (“infinito” as opposed to “y finito“, for instance).
Now I come to think of it, this is quite seasonal (unless my memory is playing tricks on me), in the sense that London Calling was released just before Christmas in 1979, and I spent most of my Christmas stay with my parents listening to it (it might even have been my Christmas present). I remember feeling fairly pessimistic about the prospects for the coming decade, what with the trouble in Afghanistan – the Soviet “invasion” beginning on Christmas Eve (my 19th birthday) – the prospect of civil unrest following the recent election of a Conservative government and so on. Perhaps I might give it another spin this Christmas – purely for reasons of nostalgia, you understand.
2 thoughts on “Spanish Bombs : Cecilia Bastida”
You never need an excuse for listening to The Clash, who, I’m pretty sure, are one of the best bands of all time. When I am on Desert Island Disks, White Man at Hammersmith Palais will be one of my eight. Spanish Bombs is a corker but I find this young lady a little insipid. I could rarely make out a word Joe Strummer said anyway, but it was good to have the ‘finito’ cleared up.
1979 felt like The Year of the Great Betrayal. A school friend and I sat up all night, huddled furtively by the radio in the Junior Com., listening to the election results. At 14, the prospect of a female Prime Minister seemed like a wonderful thing. And then we found out. By 1983 we were out rattling tins for the miners.
I used to love The Clash. I hadn’t listened to them for ages, but some of their songs do sound strangely apposite at the moment.
My memory of the ’79 election was having a dire feeling that everything was about to go horribly wrong (and I don’t think I was wrong about that).
I thought what was interesting about this version was seeing someone who has some experience of something like a civil war (Tijuana No were closely identified with the Zapatistas in Chiapas) singing a song that I have seen dismissed as a sort of political tourism.