-Please, could I speak with Silvio? I asked after rehearsing several times in front of the telephone of the winery on the corner of his apartment, on 23rd Street, between 22nd and 24th, in El Vedado.
“No, he’s not here,” answered a voice that seemed to belong to an elderly woman.
-Look, we know you are there, because we are looking at your white Lada 1600 here. Please tell him that we are two young troubadours who have traveled from Pinar del Río just to talk with him. We need you to attend to us, please.
Minutes later, Silvio got on the phone.
-Wait for me there, I’m already leaving.
Rubén Cortés accompanied me, with whom I shared two passions every day: journalism and Silvio’s songs. He was a reporter for the Pinar del Río correspondent for the National Information Agency and he was studying journalism with me at the University of Havana. Rubén carried with him several medium-size photographs of Rogelio Moré, AIN’s star photographer, in which Silvio appeared singing on different stages, so that he could sign them for us, so that we could keep them as a trophy, a conquest that was invaluable. as proof of our encounter with the Idol.
We wait for you next to your car. Wore Jean and a plaid shirt, and he was accompanied by a young, small girl with a fresh face and a well-modeled figure. We greeted each other, he opened the car door and sat down to serve us. We explained that we went to the trova resource because it seemed more effective. He was amused by the argument. Then, Rubén showed him the photos.
-Here I am singing For barbara, from Santiago.
-No, what’s up, when For barbara“You were wearing a striped shirt, long sleeves and a Chinese collar,” Rubén explained.
-You’re wrong, here I am singing For barbara.
-What’s going, what’s going on, no way. You wore a striped shirt with long sleeves and a Chinese collar.
Silvio stared at him, disappointed and defiant. He was annoyed with that boy who pretended to know better than him the clothes with which he went on stage. Until he untied the tight knot.
-Effectively! Is that I sang For barbara twice: when I defended her and when I won, so you’re right: she was wearing those clothes when I defended her.
We were right. And we knew it, with pride. Such a healthy pride that we shared it with the trova guru himself, and with an inner joy that only those who have personally known idols understand.
-I’ve read things you’ve written about me, he told me.
“Have you read them?” I asked him with a shyness that almost prevented me from expressing myself, wrapped in even greater astonishment.
-Yes, I have read them.
The meeting was brief, but there was an invitation to his apartment, which never materialized because it was the typical invitation of the famous to get out of trouble. However, the meaning of that meeting sought for months was the most precious gift for our emotional world. And, more than our mood, our serious fan loyalty.
We walked to the Faculty of Arts and Letters, where we studied, three kilometers from there, singing his songs, Rubén with his hand on his right ear, as he did when he sang to Silvio, while we stopped to review the moments we had just experienced. moments before, as if we still don’t believe it.
But the meeting had left a mystery floating: how and where had Silvio read some brief comments that I had written, hardly knowing how to do it, and published in a newspaper that only circulated in Pinar del Río? That enigmatic detail brought a dose of emotion to the bond with the troubadour, who now pointed, or had to aim, towards strengthening.
I didn’t stop until I interviewed him, two years later, in February 1986, after traveling from Pinar del Río at dawn, in the company of my friend photographer José Otero Martínez and with a questionnaire tailored to his controversial vocation. The interview, his first as a 22-year-old thanks to a daring journalistic passion, was published in the then highly sought after and widely read Bohemia magazine. An interesting dialogue that bounced from one end of the country to the other and in which some of Silvio’s opinions surprised:
-In a recent interview with Opina magazine, Gabriel García Márquez said that Manuel Alejandro’s texts are “extraordinary poetic pieces.” What do you think?
-Boy, the only thing that shows me that is that you can be a Nobel Prize in Literature and not good taste.
It was a very seasoned interview from beginning to end with opinions on Leo Brouwer, Julio Iglesias, The Beatles, the poetry of young people, the Cuban son, the clothes to go on stage and the Afrocuba group, among other matters.
Months later he agreed to meet at the house of my uncle Gustavo -who was in his forties and enjoyed life as if he were in our 20s- to please a group of girls and boys who gave anything to meet and talk with Silvio: my sister, Dismary, Raulito, a cousin who was like a brother, Madelén, who later became my girlfriend, and the neighbor Mario Alba, a former member of the El Vaquerito suicide squad, who arrived by chance.
I knew then that those texts of mine that Silvio had read from the newspaper GuerrillaMy mother had sent them by post with the request that she not tell me, as she had done it secretly.
“And why didn’t you tell me that time? I asked him, still stunned by his confession.”
-Because she asked me, and a request from a mother is sacred, I couldn’t tell you.
Today, after seeing allusions to his 75th birthday on Facebook, the memory of that meeting has returned to my memory, accompanied by old Havana Club, Fortín wine, assorted fruits and pork, which we all paid for without wanting to commit suicide later, as it would happen to us right now. An encounter in which we devoured Silvio with questions and talked about literature while he pretended not to realize our literary and cultural nonsense.
There are still many details of that afternoon-night fluttering, such as him advising us when talking about mediocrity, that we should never try to kill flies with pellets, and my uncle, a lucid worker who always set out to outdo himself, sitting on the floor, slapping his hands. the gray granite and crying out with his spontaneous laugh: “Silvio squeezed, Silvio squeezed!”
The funny thing was that no one asked the troubadour to sing, nor did he bring the guitar.
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Silvio, how time goes by – Guerrilla Newspaper