Music and migration.

When you least expect it, it hits you like a ton of bricks.
I have lived in Zürich now for two months. The language, the lifestyle, the people, the money, and the landscape are all different and foreign to me. Yet I am very happy and feel at home with Petra. I am not homesick one bit. Yet…

…a few days ago I was listening to a podcast of NPR’s Fresh Air in which Terry Gross was interviewing Eddie Palmieri. He was recently recognized in the USA as a Jazz Master, the highest national honor that the country bestows on jazz artists by the National Endowment for the Arts. Pianist Eddie Palmieri has been given many nicknames. He’s been called The Latin Monk because of his Thelonious Monk-inspired dissonances. He’s been called The Mad Man of Latin music. He is an icon in Puerto Rican and Latin music. Palmieri’s parents migrated to New York from Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1926, and settled down in the South Bronx, a largely Hispanic neighborhood. Both he and his older brother, the late Charlie Palmieri, were born in New York.

So the interviewer decides to play the song Puerto Rico by Palmieri, and as soon as I heard the first few chords, tears streamed down my eyes. In the song he praises his birthplace, Puerto Rico, while living in New York City. Music, unlike any other art form, can do this magic. It can bring you back to a moment in time instantly. I was about 14 years old living in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico when this song came out. Music can even make you feel like being back, like returning.

After I regained my composure, I recalled what my cousin recently told me referring to Puerto Rico:
Honestamente acá excepto de visita, no hay nada que buscar. (Honestly, unless you’re visiting, there is no reason to come back.)

Here is the first segment of the song for your enjoyment:
Puerto Rico 

 

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