The Man Who Showed Us The Way
Last Wednesday February 26, I had just finished packing my things after a morning rehearsal for that nights show, when another dancer told me Paco de Lucia had died. I was quite dubious at first...surely it cant be true...must be one of those stupid Facebook hoaxes.But when I arrived home and opened my computer...I saw the reality of what I was told...and I was shocked...and I'm still overwhelmed.
I knew that sooner or later that this day had to come...but I didn't expect it to be like this...so soon...so unforeseen. It was like the rug had been pulled right under the flamenco world and Spanish alike. So cruel and undeserved. Because to tell you the truth, in my mind I was hoping he'd live into his 90's of old age...not by a heart attack at 66. Flamenco's creative genius, its primordial ambassador, its agitating revolutionary, the most lauded and respected flamenco artist...is no longer with us in person.Since learning the news, I haven't stopped playing his music at home, on the train, in the street, during my warm ups and classes.I've been absorbing his albums like Siroco, Zyryab, Fuente y Cuadal, Almoraima, his duets with Camaron etc, in my current state of mind and all the memories of listening to his music since childhood are inundating back...even before I had a passion for flamenco.I could name many happy occasions and moments that I have personally experienced and that I have shared with Paco's music, videos of his concerts, documentaries and movies. But I won't because I feel even more gutted the more I visualize them...I still find it hard to believe it...and I can only imagine how guitarists around the world are feeling right now...but for me the perception is close to losing a family member.Growing up in a Spanish family in Australia...Paco was one of the few artists that made it on our vinyl and cassette players. His music encompassed and represented us....becoming a part of our lives. Many would agree Spanish people are a passionate lot and love to feud...how many times I would hear the adults lock horns on what music to put on....but put on a record of Paco de Lucia and it was end of discussion...he saved the day again!
"Flamenco’s creative genius, its primordial ambassador, its agitating revolutionary, the most lauded and respected flamenco artist..."
All those backyard paellas with the other Spanish families, those smoke filled nights at the Spanish club...those times when we took a girl or friends to our local Spanish tapas bar or restaurant...there you could hear Paco's music and guitar playing in the background.And I've lost the amount of times I would unwind after work and listen to his music ambulating along the Brisbane river...his music would haul me to another place, far way from the office politics, reminding me of my family and Spain....it was like he was an uncle telling me that things are OK and that flamenco was a much more suitable place to be...and in the end he persuaded me.
PACO has been an illuminating force in my life and I my only regret that I wasn't able to see him live in Moscow this year...which would have been my first.So I'm going to make sure I accomplish and fulfill all the things I want to do in my flamenco bucket list and keep on appreciating and acknowledging Paco's legacy as he has so richly earned and deserved.In 3 weeks I fly to Malaga for my sisters wedding...I hope to drop by Algeciras...only 1 hr by bus and hopefully pay my respects to Don Francisco Sanchez Gomez...el Maestro...the man who showed us the way and the world this art and culture that I love so much.Gracias Paco por todo!