Through this list of ten songs that talk about Uruguay, we pretend to expose feelings, emotions, circumstances and thoughts of a country, in the voice of their musicians. Music has been historically a fundamental element of consolidating Uruguayan “nationality” and national projection of the country´s image. Topics such as football, Montevideo, the national flag, candombe, neighborhood, carnival, Artigas and the national anthem are part of the songs chosen in this post to listen and feel Uruguay.
Descolgando el cielo – Edu Lombardo (2011). Football is an undisputed protagonist in Uruguayans lives and when the national team plays all differences are forgotten and the country is united in one only chant “Soy, celeste soy, soy, celeste,.. Soy, celeste soy, soy, celeste…”
Cielo de un solo color – No te va gustar (2004). Sets a message of optimism in the colors of the sky and traces a parallelism with the flag, inviting Uruguayans not to leave the country since illusion is still alive. “Hay algo que sigue vivo, nos renueva la ilusión” (there is something still alive, renovating our illusion.)
Mi país – Rubén Rada (2000). “…Como uruguayo quiero ser parte de ti/Recorrer todas tus playas/ tus costumbres, tu perfil/ Tomarme un mate, Bizcochar, chistarle al guarda/ir al bar por unos trucos / Y soñar con ser campeón…” (As Uruguayan I want to be a part of you / Visit all your beaches / your customs / your profile / Drink a mate, have some cookies, make a sound to the ticket inspector / go to the bar for some card games / and dream about being a champion) This fragment shows the authors sensibility towards defining the customs of this land. It is, for sure, a hard punch in the heart for any Uruguayan who is away.
Una canción a Montevideo – Mauricio Ubal (1992). This song is considered to be a anthem to Montevideo as it represents faithfully the Uruguayan capital. “… Esos techos de rambla infinita/esas voces con techos de nada/ todo viene a esta mansa bahía/ mar de fondo de nuestras palabras…”. (Those infinite bayside roofs / those voices with roofs of nothing / everything comes to this calm bayside / ground swell of our words).
Durazno y Convención – Jaime Roos (1985). Refers to the corner of Montevideo in which the author lived as a young man and describes poetically his experiences. It has become a corner of touristic interest.
Candombe del Olvido – Alfredo Zitarrosa (1979). “Barrio Sur” in Montevideo is the neighborhood where most of Uruguayan folklore is congregated, neighborhood of black people, of carnival, of humble, solidarity and fraternal people; it is the neighborhood where the genius Alfredo Zitarrosa grew up.
A Don José – Ruben Lena (1960). It is recognized as Artigas national anthem and has been declared “Uruguayan popular and cultural anthem”, in this milonga the hero José Gervasio Artigas is kept alive “con libertad, ni ofendo, ni temo/ ¡Que don José!/ oriental en la vida y en la muerte también” (With freedom I do not offend or fear, that Mr Jose, Oriental during life but in death as well).
El Himno de la República Oriental del Uruguay – Francisco Acuña de Figueroa (1848). National symbol along with Coat of Arms and official flags, they are all object of cult. It is played in national ceremonies and some local, national or international shows if a Uruguayan is protagonist.
Finally, two valuable songs very much appreciated in Uruguay by foreign artists of great success which undoubtedly reflect in their lyrics Uruguayan cultural issues that seize their curiosity.