Buena Vista Social Club: Adios (2017) - full transcript

Revisit with the remaining original members of the Buena Vista Social Club and explore their contribution to the unknown history of Cuba.

It is with deep sorrow and sympathy
that I must inform our country

that today, the Commander in Chief
of the Cuban Revolution,

Fidel Castro Ruz has passed away.

To honour Fidel Castro's death, Cuba
declares nine days of national mourning.

- Compay Segundo came here?
- Compay Segundo never came here.

- He never came here?
- Well, Compay Segundo was near 60th.

They told him:
Buena Vista Social Club is that way.

- And he went that way?
- Yes. That came out in a documentary.

He never came
to Buena Vista Social Club.

He never set foot in it.

- And this is the place?
- This is the place.

This is the real thing.
This is the real Buena Vista Social Club.

This is the place where it used to
be. The society for black people.

People... For workers.
Black workers.

And it's a famous place, but it used to
be a very famous place in the past, too.

Not only now, right now, after these
sessions, and the album and everything.

It used to be, really,
an important place.

- This was the cloakroom.
- Right.

People would arrive...

They'd arrive here
and check their coats and hats.

Then, they would start dancing.

This whole area was
the Buena Vista Social Club.

It was a society for black people.

They used to perform here,
and they used to dance here, as well.

And right now, it is a gym.
And very modern, by the way.

- It was a huge dance hall.
- Imagine that this wall didn't exist.

This is the original floor. And on
this floor, the people used to dance,

and they enjoyed life.

Like in a film or in a dream...

Now? You're going to be famous now?

Now your voice is messed up
and you can barely walk?

When you have to walk
with a cane and everything?


Well, what do these people know,
really, about Cuba?

What do they know
about the history of our country?

What do they know
about the things we have been through?

Okay, well, many thanks for coming.

Welcome to this press conference
for the first-ever live performances

ofthe Buena Vista Social Club.

The album has now sold nearly
half a million records worldwide.

It's been awarded a Grammy. Wim Wenders
is here filming for a documentary.

- How did it all take off, initially?
- Sorry, I don't understand.

He's saying: What was your path?

Right. We had discussed doing a big band
album, with the style ofthe Fifties.

At the same time, we wanted to do an
album with musicians from eastern Cuba,

together with some African guitarists.

And | asked Ry if he'd want
to come along, and he said: Yes.

But then, the Africans didn't show up,
so we did what we did.

I wanted to present a project based
on the Cuban roots and our ancestors.

Nick and l were talking, and he said:
I'd like to do this project with you.

I lived two doors down from Arsenio

and I'd hear him playing
his tres every day.

He said: come over here. He was blind.
He ran his hand over my face, like so.

| asked him: What?
And he said: You're a handsome guy.

So, I told him: No, man.
ljust really like music.

He nicknamed me Pretty Boy,
and ljoined his band the next week.

come here, my dark-skinned woman
I'm going to die, my dark-skinned woman

come here, my dark-skinned woman
I'm going to die, my dark-skinned woman

Up to the Forties, it was forbidden
to play congas in Cuba.

It reminded people ofthe power, the
sound ofthe original Africans' drums

during the times of slavery.

The first one to introduce the congas
in his band was Arsenio Rodriguez.

Arsenio is one of the greatest
Cuban musicians in our history.

He created the foundation
of everything: of salsa, of mambo,

of everything that's happening
in danceable Latin music worldwide.

l'd perform, and he'd say: Do it like
this, not that. lt'll sound better.

And I became a master of Cuban music.

I had a piano, but over time,
termites got into the wood.

The little creatures started
eating away at the wood,

and eventually they destroyed the piano.

I wanted to have the most important Cuban
trumpet player of the last 40 years.

I worked at The Tropicana
for thirty years.

l have devoted myself to
be an inspiration for Cuban music.

Not to toot my own horn, but I was
the best in Cuba. Really, I was.

What's up, cowboy? Good to see you.

Eliades Ochoa is, like,
the flag of country music.

This is my neighbourhood.
l was born just down the road from here.

l was born here, in the steep mountains
ofthe province of Santiago de Cuba.

- I'm a "guajiro"
- l was born just over there

ln Santiago, there's something...

We are a fusion of Spanish
with African and Cubans.

In every corner, there is
someone playing a guitar or a conga.

Here, you drink rum without ice.

People party into the wee hours.

My mum didn't have a job, nor did my
dad, and there were six of us kids.

Life was hard.
Very hard.

When I was a kid, learned a living
playing in the brothels and bars.

This was the red light district.

All these streets here had rooms,
side by side, full of prostitutes.

They helped me a lot.

I am Afro-Cuban

Pio Leyva was one
of the greatest soneros.

Nobody taught me how to sing.

I sing because... I don't know.
It comes from my heart.

The old generation's main bass player
was definitely Cachaito Lopez.

The violin was
my instrument of choice,

but my grandfather forced me to learn
bass, because it's a family tradition.

My family has thirty bass players,

Barbarito Torres.

He is the greatest lute player
of his generation.

My godfather was one of Cuba's
greatest lute players: Luciano Monet.

So, at the age often,
I was given a lute.

I started to incorporate different
styles into country music: funk, rock...

Then they started calling me
the Jimi Hendrix ofthe lute.

Here, in my head,
there's an ocean of music.

When I improvise it all mixes together,
and what comes out is my creation.

Barbarito has gone crazy.

When I arrived at the recording studio,

Ry Cooder told me to listen to a tape
and copy the musician's style exactly.

When he played the tape, there was
a traditional Cuban song on it...

There was a lute solo in the song.
When I heard it, I said: That's me.

The musician on Ry's tape was me.

I'm 90 years old and then some.
So, what's my secret?

- Your secret is what interests me.
- Don't overindulge.

- Don't overindulge in anything.
- ln anything.

Look, look. Listen up.

For example, if I'm having chicken,
I only eat a small portion,

so that I don't get bored
with what I'm eating.

That way, the next day, I'll still have
the desire to go back to that chicken.

- The second secret.
- The second secret deals with love.

- That's what I'm interested in.
- When it comes to love,

I use the same strategy
as when | eat chicken.

Compay is like being in front
of a Bible, because he knew everything.

He'd been alive for a century.

I'm one ofthe original son players
from Santiago.

The music | play is son,
and I'm not going to stop now.

Son music represents
the essence ofthe Cuban people.

For us Cubans, music is like our food.
When we have had really tough times,

we have created styles of music
that helped our people to survive.

Son is the music ofthe late slaves,
during the end ofthe 19th century.

People from different parts ofAfrica
brought their kind of music,

which mixed with European music.

Well, in fact, son is the root
of all danceable tropical music

in the whole of the Americas.

l was born here in 1907.

People would play son into the morning.

We have a saying, 'until the hot
chocolate', meaning until sunrise.

| created the duo Los Compadres,
'the buddies'.

The one who sang lead
was Compay Primo, or Buddy Number One,

and since I sang second vocals, l was
Compay Segundo, or Buddy Number Two.

Somebody told me: You should be in
Havana. People love your guitar playing.

Mama, I want to know
where those singers are from

So, what I did was travel
as far as Bayamo.

And in Bayamo, I went straight
to the cigar factory.

I had learned how to roll cigars
when l was fourteen.

l'd work until I made enough money
to pay my bus fare to Las Tunas.

ay mami, where are they from?
are they from Havana?

are they from Santiago?
From the noble land?

they are from the mountains, Santiago
and sing on the plains, Havana

you'll see
you'll see

Eventually, I got to Havana, in 1934.

Havana was a really happening place.

There was a lot of music
in the cafes and social clubs.

There were social clubs for whites
and social clubs for blacks.

During the Thirties,
the racism was really tough.

My dad was a musician.
He performed with Arsenio.

He had to play for one peso
until the last drunk left the party.

Black musicians were not able
to play in societies for white people.

There were social clubs
for black people, poor black people,

for example,
the Buena Vista Social Club.

The most popular was Buena Vista.

The dance hall was small,
but the patio was enormous.

l was playing in clubs
just about every day.

In the cabarets, the orchestras
were always made up of white people.

Over at the National, there were
always blacks, but not too dark.

They would choose and say: Sir, look
for someone lighter, someone less black.

This used to be a social club.
It was a phenomenon.

I played in the orchestra here
when l was 17 years old.

There is a saying that says:
To remember is to relive.

Barbarito said: Ibrahim Ferrer,
the one who sang with Los Bocucos.

l'll speak to you with my kisses

so I won't have the sadness

of being separated from you

so, trust me...

l was at home cleaning shoes.

I didn't have a job. And then a guy
told me: Someone's looking for you.

I said: Who's looking for me?
It was Juan de Marcos.

Ibrahim was one ofthe poorest. He had
to clean shoes in order to survive.

I was full of resentment.
I didn't want to sing any more.

I didn't want to live any more,
because I was very disappointed...

in music.
That's what I'm explaining.

I retired incredibly disappointed
in music.

He said: They're paying.
That's when I said: Let's do it.

I changed my clothes,
washed my face and took off.

Ibrahim showed up wearing trousers
stained with shoe polish.

It was a song called Ay Candela,
written by Faustino Oramas.

Asong I used to sing.

I started singing along...

But I didn't realise
they were watching me.

I didn't go there to record numbers.
I was there to sing backup.

Ruben was restless
and started improvising on the piano.

two gardenias for you...

[love you, [adore you

my darling...

So my dear Juan de Marcos,
my mate Ry, whom you know,

and Nick...
They discovered me.

When I heard Ibrahim's voice, so sweet
I got gooseflesh, I started to cry.

I knew that voice.

Omara is one ofthe greatest singers
in the history of our country.

Juan de Marcos asked me
to record a song for them.

At that point, they asked me:
What are you going to sing?

I told him that I wanted to sing
Veinte Afios.

I learned to sing it
when I was four years old.

This is the roof under which I used
to live, right here, in this house.

I always lived here,
from the time I was a little girl.

Out back, there was a patio,
but it has been remodelled, right?

- No, no. It's the same.
-No. It didn't have that type of floor.

There was a small bathroom there,
but they've built a new one.

- Yes.
- Of course.

We were happy. Very happy.

There were times we had no food to eat,
just water with sugar in it.

We were very poor.

But our love was so great, we felt like
millionaires. You know what I mean?

In this little room, my dad taught me
the song Veinte Afios.

My dad told me to sit next to him.
He said: I want to teach you a song.

does it matter that I love you
if you don't love me any more?

we should not dwell
on love that is past

if only we could make
our dreams come true

if only you would love me
as you did twenty years ago

how mournfully we watch
our love ebb away

it's a part of the soul
that is torn mercilessly

I learned it here.

My mother was white.
She came from a wealthy family.

My father was black.
His mother was a maid in her house.

They played together as children,
not knowing there were racial issues.

They fell in love.
So, my mum's family disowned her.

My dad told me: You're going to be
a great singer.

I didn't know what he was talking about.

In 1952, my sister Haydee and I

to form an all-female quartet.
We called it Cuarteto D'Aida.

My dream had been to be a ballerina.

Every year, I'd audition
to join the classical ballet.

I was the best, but every year I'd leave
crying, because I never got a place.

I didn't understand that only white
people were allowed to dance ballet,

because everyone can sing.

Compay Segundo lived
in that house over there.

When Compay Segundo lived in Havana
for a short time,

he lived on that corner,
on the top floor.

I went to his house to audition for him.
I sang with his group for a while.

She's the best of the best.
I sang back up for her.

it's a part of the soul
that is torn mercilessly

Ry Cooder told me: Well, Omara Portuondo
is the Cuban Sarah Vaughan.

And I said: No, Sarah Vaughan
is the American Omara Portuondo.

There it is.

We're family.

He and I.

We're family.

Well, let's make a toast, gentlemen.

Because the truth of the matter is
that today is...

- A special day.
- For us.

Here's to...


Let's honour... Here's to...

- To whom?
- To Benny.

I would like to have a suit made.
A bright red suit.

To tell you the truth,
I need it so I can seduce the ladies.

If you need it to seduce the ladies,
we'll do our best.

World music is not rock 'n' roll.

You don't have a big company behind you
and a lot of money,

in order to bring journalists
and in order to promote the music.

You have to perform.

The Buena Vista Social Club was
not a band. It wasn't a supergroup.

It was a group of musicians.
Most of them were already retired.

And so, we had to create a band,
in order to present the music.

But Omara was working
with her own band.

Eliades was working
with the Cuarteto Patria.

So, I grabbed Ruben Gonzalez
and Ibrahim Ferrer,

and then we flew to London to present
the music for the first time.

play the piano, Ruben
because I am waiting for you

play the piano, Ruben
because I am listening to you

When I brought Ibrahim to the band,
Ibrahim was always in the background.

And I told him:
You have to go to the front.

And I had to move him physically
to the front: You are my front guy.

play the piano, Ruben

because I'm listening to you

We performed a couple of concerts
in England.

Really successful in cultural terms.
A lot ofjournalists.

And then suddenly, everything changed.
We started selling albums and albums.

Ibrahim was a great improviser.
He was able

to catch what was happening where he
was performing and then sing about it.

look at that woman who is so delicious
dance to the danzén

I brought it to you from Cuba
so that you would feel this excited

It's not the same as freestyle hip-hop.
What's difficult is that he has to sing.

I would like to present to you
my friend, Juan de Marcos

[know that he will give it to you hard
and delicious

This is the magic
of Ibrahim and Cuban son.

they call me the silly one
the songbird, the quality fool

but the silliest thing of all
is me, and I'm telling the truth

- All you must do is tune your guitar.
- Don't call me old.

You're not old,
you're just playing out oftune.

- I know what I'm doing.
- You know...

- But do you know you're out oftune?
- Yes.

- You know you have to tune the guitar?
- Those machines lie.

They lie, because they are tuned
by the machines.

- But then...
- The machines lie.

You can't play out oftune
for 2,000 people tomorrow.

We are playing it in G.
Mother of God! Listen to the music.

No, listen to him. He's playing G.
This is the right key.

- This is G.
- This is G.

on a tree trunk...

It's the same.

What more do you want?
It's like talking to a crazy person.

It's the same note,
and he keeps on arguing.

- It's just that I'm old.
- You're not old, you're crazy.

All right, here we go.

It's a mystery? No, it's not a mystery,
it's wrong, just wrong.

Gotta be out of our mind. Right, Wim?
You know what I'm talking about.

You wouldn't shoot a film
with two days of rehearsal.

- It's scary.
- It's scary. Insane is what it is.

That's it, my love. Here's the thing:
I'm used to the other way.

But now you understand.
You get one solo, and that's it.

Pay attention, so you know when to stop.

Look, I've been singing since I was 7,
and I've been doing this for 40 years.

Try ninety.

Get yourself another old man
who can play a guitar like this.

Get yourself another old man.

My cigar.

In the late Eighties,
Compay Segundo was retired.

I had a quiet period,
as all artists do,

because you work and work,
and then you have to take a break.

During that calm period,
I was able to write a lot of songs.

To write songs, you need to be relaxed,
so I went to a beach.

Compay came back to Santiago.

He introduced himself:
I am Compay Segundo.

Imagine that.
I was a huge fan growing up.

He said: I need you to play my music,

so that I can make some royalties.

He reached into the pocket of his
guayabera shirt and pulled out a tape.

He told me: There's a song on there.
I think we can do something with it.

I popped the tape into my tape player.
What came out was the famous Chan Chan.

I'm going from Alto Cedro to Marcane
then from Cueto, I'm going to Ma yari

The song is about Juanica and Chan Chan.

Juanica and Chan Chan are sifting sand
in the ocean,

and then Juanica....

and Chan Chan gets 'excited',
because she's going like this.

when Juanica and Chan Chan
were sifting sand in the ocean

the way she shook that sifter
gave Chan Chan a 'hard' time

I even played Chan Chan for the Pope
at the Vatican.

clear that 'bush y path'
because I want to 'sit down'

so I can get to that 'tree trunk'
and I can't 'get in there'

And I think he loved it.


because the roses

and the lilies

are sleeping

I don't want them

to know my pain

because if they see me crying

they'll die

One ofthe most beautiful things,
of everything that was happening,

was that Ibrahim, whom I've known
and loved for a long time, was there.

I met him fifty years ago.

It's my pleasure to present
the little ladies of Cuarteto d'Aida.

I was singing with the quartet, and he
was a backup singer for Pacho Alonso.

Ibrahim and I really bonded
over our love of music.

That sweetness in his voice...
it's the same as his personality.

There's a song entitled Good Person.

They should dedicate that song to him,
because he was such a good person.

He'd had a very difficult childhood
and had grown up very poor.

He was a great singer, but he didn't
have the same opportunities.

That's life. How many talented people
could've succeeded if given a chance?

- When you're ready, Ibrahim.
- So...

You want me to tell you
the short version of my life story?

According to my mum,
my dad was a singer,

and I was born at a social club dance.

I was raised by my mother.

My mum passed away when I was 12.
That is why I always carry this staff.

To me, this is my mum.

My everything.

This is how I've always kept her with me
since I lost her when I was 12.

I was on my own, so I had to leave
school and support myself.

I used to work here.
Myjob was to haul sacks of sugar

that weighed over 325 pounds.
I was just a skinny kid.

Look at these scars.
They'll never go away.

They tell me that after my mother died,

the only way to wake me was to sing.

Music is my whole life.

The son came down to Santiago de Cuba
from the mountains.

And precisely, this is
where the Cuban Revolution began.

So, the roots come from the same place.

we have to protect Fidel

we have to protect him
because he's our salvation

Music is so important for us that,
during the revolution,

Fidel even had a quintet called
Quinteto Rebelde.

And Quinteto Rebelde used to perform
live, from the mountains.

They used to make up covers
of important Cuban songs,

but with different lyrics, referring to
the political situation ofthe country.

we have to protect him

- Winston
- it comes in two sizes

- Winston
- it's the highest quality

it's got the best filter
and conserves its flavour

Winston cigarettes

they've got the best filter
and they keep their flavour

Winston cigarettes

There was a political crisis, but the
musicians had more places to perform,

because of the casinos and hotels
built by Batista and the American mafia.

The Fifties was the golden period
of Cuban music.

But it was a tough time
for the Cuban people,

because of the corruption
of Batista's government.

Winston cigarettes

When the Revolution triumphed,
everyone was in the streets celebrating.

Everybody was in favour of it.

They supported Fidel Castro and all
the others who gave up their lives

so that Cuba could be for the Cubans.

We didn't want to be owned by anyone.

We didn't want to be slaves.
Slavery is very difficult.

People asked Fidel ifthe segregation
of social clubs would continue,

and Fidel responded:
I don't know ifthey will continue,

but everyone must dance
with the Revolution.

Fidel tried to eliminate
the racism in Cuba with a pen.

Fidel cut all ofthe social clubs,
and he established

a kind of more democratic society,
or he tried to do it.

It was called 'Operation Peter Pan'.

There was a propaganda campaign telling
people to send their children to Miami.

It was like an epidemic.

Many mothers, including my sister, sent
their children to North America.

Being separated from your child is
very difficult.

She changed her mind
and tried to get her back,

but the girl didn't want to return.

In the end, my sister moved to Miami,
to be closer to her daughter.

It was awful.

One must accept these things.
You can't control people.

the era is giving birth to a heart

it can't take any more pain
or it will die

we must keep running

the future may fall...

That's how I ended up going solo
in 1967.

My sister was scared to become a
soloist. She was very shy, and so was I.

I had to see ifl had it in me
to become a soloist.

This is a show I did
in Vietnam, China and Korea.

For all those years, Ibrahim was
singing backup for Pacho Alonso.

He told me he wanted to be a lead
singer and I said it would happen.

But it hadn't happened yet.

He wasn't capable
of stepping over people.

He waited patiently
for his time to come.

Come here, Ibrahim.
All of you know Ibrahim, right?

Give me a close-up of his face,

Smile, Ibrahim, smile.

Ibrahim is a fantastic singer.
He is also a great songwriter.

Why don't you sing something?
Look, she's waving at you.

Let's play that song of yours,
Vamos a Entrarle a Palos a Ese.

somebody really needs
to beat that guy up

He told me:
They say I have an ugly voice.

'Ibrahim who said that?'

He had a sweet, delicious voice.


After that, Pacho didn't let me sing.

At one point,
he told me he was sick of me.

But I didn't want to leave,
because I founded this band.

For a long time, Cuban music

was the most important tropical music
in the world.

Sadly, because ofthe American embargo,
relations with the world were lost.

There was a kind of evaluation
of every artist by the Culture Ministry.

And then they say: Well, you are 'A',
or you are 'B', or you are 'C'.

And then they pay you a salary.

This system is good for something.

It gives security to the worker's life,
not to the rich.

That is why there are
no rich people living here.

I never left the piano.
I'm always playing something on it.

Cuban music was completely forgotten,

and then jazz and rock emerged...

and an endless list of songs
from outside Cuba.

Eventually, I quit.
In the end, I felt like a failure.


because the roses

and the lilies

are sleeping

I don't want them

to know my pain

because if they see me crying
they'll die

because if they see me crying
they'll die

because if they see me crying

they'll die

Thank you.

Pio Leyva is a loser with no prestige

you talk trash,
but you know you love me

Ibrahim wants to sing
but no one will give him a chance

Ibrahim wants to sing
but no one will give him a chance

if you sit him in a rocking chair
he can't hold himself up

I've got faith in my San Lazaro.
They call him the beggar.

He opens the path

and helps the destitute.

I put out flowers for him,
and a lot of cologne.

Every time I leave,
I spray him, and I spray myself as well.

and says: Ahh, ahh...

there is

a soft whisper

in the silence

of a blue night

It was a thing of love.
We never thought to make money.

I've been poor all my life,
and I'm so proud of being poor.

I'm much more proud ofthe period
when I didn't have a cent.

This music was made with love.

We were all in love with the kind
of things that we were doing.

These old guys were so happy.
We are back on the road.

They felt they were useful again.

there is a soft whisper

in the silence

of a blue night

In physics, there's something
that's very rare.

If you've got two particles that are
separated and you touch one,

the other one is going to move.

This is the same thing that happened to
me during the first show in Amsterdam.

I felt that I was
in touch with my country.

Thank you. Thank you, family.
Thank you, thank you.

Thank you.

I've been Ibrahim Ferrer all my life.

I've been singing for sixty years,
and in those sixty years,

I've been the same person,
with the same voice.

Actually not the same voice, because my
voice is not as good as it used to be.

Now? Now your voice is messed up
and you can barely walk? Now?

How is it possible that people
really enjoy this song?

It's unfathomable.
They even sing along.

It's a song about suffering.

Have you got any idea
how much my parents suffered?

I've never had success like this. Ever.

I don't know, am I going insane?
Or am I dreaming?

I mean, look, I'm 93.

It's a bit late, but the flowers of
life come to everyone sooner or later.

And when the flowers come,
they only come once.

That's why you have to pay attention
when the flowers arrive.

In the centre ofthe USA, my aunt
brought a Cuban flag to the stadium,

and we were performing there
for the first time.

Cuban artists coming from the island.
We are a small country. We have nothing.

We have no resources, but we have
created the music that we have.

It was a dream come true.

When Wim Wenders was making
the documentary,

Ibrahim said: Omara, you've recorded
with the whole world.

I'd love for you to record
a song with me.

I said: Well, all right.

I don't want

the flowers to know

the torments

of my life

Ry and I go back for more than twenty
years, and we're very old friends.

When he came back from recording
Buena Vista...

he was so contagious that I
realised it must have been very special.

And then I heard the music,
and then I knew it was very special.

He told me all these stories
about these old guys,

and that they were ninety and eighty,
and that they were more full of life

than anybody else he ever met.
I wanted to see for myself.

Let's ask these people, the old folks,
the old folks of the barrio:

Hey, where was
Buena Vista Social Club?

Oh, this guy knows.

We're looking for
the Buena Vista Social Club.

Buena Vista Social Club?

- Where the society used to hang out?
- It no longer exists.

Buena Vista Social Club
has got to be over there.

So, you need to go that way.

Well, if you go up this street,
to 60th, it's there.


oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

a rodent put on a dance
for some great amusement

he chose a mouse as his drummer
to play for the whole day

an elegant and amiable cat
came along as well

good evening, my friend...

I'm eating a grape.

Tell Santiago hello from all of us.

- Tell him to give you the ration card.
- Get me a ration card, you hear me?

the mouse got up on the palm tree roof
and announced politely

and now if you want to dance
find yourself another drummer

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

listen, Faustino Oramas and friends,
I need someone to put out the flames

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

if you are lost, dial seven zeros
that way the fire brigade might turn up

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

oh, Candela, Candela,
Candela, I'm burning

You know he wanted
to kiss me on stage.

- Each candle is worth five years.
- Cheers.

The kangaroos didn't eat this.

I still have to pinch myself...

to make sure I'm not asleep, dreaming.

I never thought I would be
so successful.

It was astonishing.

The day before, Elton John was
performing at Hyde Park for 8000 people.

We brought 14,000.

At the end, Ibrahim was jumping.
He became a superstar.

Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

Everybody's going to remember Ibrahim
for a century.

Fire's out.

Ibrahim got a second chance.

He was touched by the hand of God,
whoever God is.

I don't know why they have denied
my visa request.

At least, I don't feel like a terrorist.

All of us here recognise

that these are very prestigious awards.

They are proof that...
And that's wrong, isn't it?

...the world recognises
your importance, as well.

Ibrahim, I love you.
Thank you.

- Three Grammys?
- Yes. Three.



- Thank you.
- My goodness, thank you for everything.

Compay used to play
with a travelling country band.

They were missing a lute player.

Back then, I was a kid
who was known as a lute player.

He said: We're going to Matanzas to ask
Barbarito if he wants to join us.

When he had the chance, he came
to Matanzas, on the eighth...

It was on September 9, 1977.

I remember exactly, because the day
before, I had buried my father.

These people appeared, looking for me
to go and play music with them,

and I didn't want to go, because I had
just buried my father the day before.

So, my mother started packing
a suitcase with some of my clothes.

She said: He's going. His father
wanted him to become a musician.

And that's how I met Compay.

Look at the ocean. This is such
a beautiful place, isn't it?

My grandmother would send me
out to run errands,

but sometimes I would go swimming
in the ocean.

But when I got home, my grandma
would grab my leg and lick it

to see if I was salty from swimming.

My grandmother is buried
in this cemetery.

She was laid to rest when I was
seven years old.

I asked: Why are they carrying her
in a box?

They told me: She's going to a party,

and they're carrying her in a box,
so she doesn't have to walk,

and they're keeping her covered
to protect her from the sun.

And I said: That's so nice.

For my grandmother, Ma Regina.

I've fulfilled the three obligations
of a man, according to Jose Marti:

I've planted a tree, I've had a child
and I've written a book.

I have fulfilled all those obligations.

I feel satisfied
with what I've accomplished in my life.

I'm an honest man

from where the palm tree grows

and before I die

I want to sing out my soul

The flowers of life.
How lovely they are.

Sooner or later,
they come to you in their splendour.

Thank you, Maestro.


Compa y, Compa y

Without love flowers will die,
and without kisses love will disappear.

Excellent. Spoken like a true poet.

That's life for you.

Music is closer to the true world
than the material world.

It's so terrible that he has
that disease. Can they fix that?

His problem is:
sometimes his mind just goes.

The master ofthe piano,

the great Ruben Gonzalez.

How do you remember the music so well,
and you don't forget?

I think that it's the influence
of spirits, ofthings spirits enjoy.

I have got a lot of spirits
of musicians surrounding me.

So many of my friends have passed away.

When you remember something,
it's because your spirit is in it.

- Will you ever stop playing?
- No way.

I will play my last note in the grave.

This is for my mum.

lam from Carabali
a black slave from Africa

without freedom
I cannot live

white man has crushed my heart

so mistreated
body so weakened

so mistreated
body so weakened

manigua, manigua, mama

search for the mountain

one step fon/vard, machero
if you've got a saddle, you can ride

lam Carabali, lam Mandinga
and I want my freedom

My Lazaro saved this for me
until the year 2000.

Now my voice is shot
and I can barely walk.

You're supposed to be famous
when you're 15 or 20.

But there's a saying: It's never
too late ifthe outcome is good.

Before this,
I didn't want to live any more.

Thank goodness Juan De Marcos came along
and roused me from my rocking chair.

His final concert was
Marciac Jazz Festival. That was...

We were going to cancel it,
and he said no.

By then, his condition was so advanced

that they had to give him oxygen
every two songs.

And four days later, he was gone.

the soul surrenders

with sweet and total renunciation

and when that miracle fulflls

the wonder of love

there are festival bells

singing in my heart

in my heart

He gave everything he had
at that concert.

He passed away as the most popular,
the most famous Cuban singer

ofthe 20th Century.

I don't know ifl should tell you this.

Tonight, and every other night,

but especially on this day, August 3rd,

our beloved friend, Ibrahim Ferrer,
performed here, on this stage.

two gardenias

with them I want to say

[love you

[adore you

my life

give them all your attention

they are your heart and mine

The son has spread all over the world.

That flower has returned,
and the tree has bloomed again.

That marvellous man, such a great
singer, great artist, great friend,

a great Cuban: Ibrahim Ferrer.

by your side, they'll live on

and they'll speak to you
like when you are with me

and you will even believe
that they'll tell you

[love you

but if one afternoon

the gardenias of my love die

it's because they have guessed
that you betrayed me

because another love exists

I believe I was born
with music in my blood.

I like people to know my origins,
where I'm from.

I like it, because it brings me life.

It gives me the desire to keep
making music every moment,

on any stage, anywhere in the world.

That's the strength I receive
when I think about where I'm from.

along the road by my house
a cart driver with his wares passed by

with his sentimental songs
the happy guajiro sang

I'm a guajiro
and I have my cart

and I lead a good life
in the countryside

the countryside is paradise
the most beautiful place in the world

on horseback,
we'll ride up the mountain

I work without resting
so one day I may marry

and when that day comes
I'll be a very lucky guajiro

chop through the mountain
farm the plains

reap the fruit of your sweat

The traditional music of Cuba, son has
given me everything I have, up to now.

And ifl live a few more years,
son will continue to provide.

President Barack Obama has invited

the Buena Vista Social Club
to perform at the White House.

This is the first time that the popular
group will play the White House,

just as diplomatic relations are being
re-established between the USA and Cuba.

We are always thinking of our friends
who are no longer here physically.

We're going to keep playing as a group
and keep playing the same music.

We're still playing the same music
as a tribute,

and we've added some younger members.

Everyone associates Buena Vista
Social Club with Cuba.

This is the first time
I ever played the piano.

When I was a kid,
I learned by listening to him.

He was always my teacher
and my mentor.

We get along really well,
grandpa and grandson.

And the glucose?

He does this thing.
Say he's whistling a melody...

- I fall asleep.
- Then he picks up where he left off.

Easy now.

- Good to see you again.
- Good to see you again. How are you?

- Good.
- Hey there, Ry.

The people ofthe United States chose
a man to be president, and it was Obama.

He's a gentleman.
Very thoughtful, very calm.

He is biracial, like I am. He is
a mix of black and white. So am I.

You are here for an historic moment
in U.S.-Cuban relations.

What is your opinion on the progress
of relations between the two countries?

We don't like
to talk a lot about politics.

It would be like me giving my lute to
Obama and the mike to Raul to sing.

But if we can make things better
by playing at the White House, great.

Look at all the barriers.

We're the first Cuban musicians
to play there in fifty years.

Cubans who live in Cuba, that is.

Welcome to the White House.
Thank you for coming.

- Thanks for everything.
- Put your instruments there.

Can I get everybody lined up
against the fence, please?

The President came in and shook
everyone's hand,

and said he was happy we are here,
just as if he were a Cuban.

- For the picture. Whiskey.
- No, no. Cuban rum.

- What's next for you guys?
- What's next?

- We get up early to do our next show.
- See what we have to deal with?

from Alto Cedro, going to Marcane
get to Cueto, going to Mayari

- To Mayari and to other places...
- To San Antonio.

- To Santiago de Cuba and everywhere.
- Thank you very much.

After a long absence from the USA,

the Buena Vista Social Club is
coming back on tour,

bringing those hot Caribbean beats.

This is an important concert for us.

In the 20 years we've been playing,
we've never played in Miami.

I know this place pretty well.
I played here with Benny More in 1959.

There is a lot of anxiety,
but their blood pressure is okay.

This is very special.
We have not done this before,

because we didn't have the opportunity.
But now we do.

Luna, we're starting.

Idania. Let's go.

The family you know and love...

The audience energised us.

This is my family in Miami.
We hadn't seen each other in 44 years.

We used to play together
when we were kids.

These are my superstars.

This step cannot be skipped,
so the music is clean and fragrant.

Things are completely different
than in 1996,

when we recorded
the Buena Vista Social Club.

The flowers of life came late,
but they came.

Our national poet, Jose Marti, said:
Music is the soul of a people.

I am part of a people.

Our African roots survive
in the Cuban rhythms,

in spite of being brought here
by the Spanish as slaves.

Of course, you can kill a man,
but you can't keep him from singing,

because that's what makes us human.

I want to keep singing until the end.
If I'm allowed.

I can't hear you.

Come on.

I can't hear you.

Come on.

Subtitling: BTI Studios