La vida es eterna en cinco minutos
You don't need to speak Spanish to feel this story. Victor Jara sings of a woman named Amanda. He is remembering her, her wide smile, the rain in her hair as she runs to spend a short break, 5 minutes to be exact, with her lover who works in the local factory. Those five minutes, "cinco minutos," are sprinkled throughout the song and the joy in those few stolen moments is palpable. When Jara sings the words "con el" (with him) he repeats it three times, going higher and higher with each repetition. It's a quietly sublime moment, for the singer, for his protagonist and for the listener.
Te Recuerdo Amanda/Victor Jara (mp3)
Like the song itself, Jara's story didn't end well. I grew up around his records but only just started listening. Researching online, trying to sort out the facts from the fictions, I learned that the Amanda of this song was his mother. An unexpected and tender detail to an already touching vignette.
Purchase Vientos del Pueblo by Victor Jara.
PS For all you cover hounds, Te Recuerdo Amanda has been recorded by Robert Wyatt and Silvio Rodriguez. As good as they are, neither version bests the original.