The outlandish encounter with India didn’t actually occur. It has been my experience that people generally don’t burst into song while going about their everyday activities, and those already familiar with India probably caught the allusion to her hit song, “Ese Hombre.” There is, however, a great deal to be learned from my “interview” with India. Here’s the method to my madness:
As a people, we are divided. Divided by creed and class, race and religion. We’re geographically divided by state lines, oceans and continents. What is so wondrous about our world, though, is that we have thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears that don’t know what “divided” means. Our dreams don’t know black from white or America from Asia. They just exist, unconcerned with the superficial differences. So somehow, despite the Atlantic, the Pacific and TSA, we connect.
We connect through music. Sure, we have Skype and Facebook and smart phones, but we don’t necessarily need person-to-person contact to be connected. Song has an ambient power that emanates outward from itself, touching maybe millions of hearts throughout the course of its lifespan. We aren’t cognizant of it, but this connects us. Something or someone may outwardly appear foreign, but if we look past the superficial differences we will often find an abundance of similarities such as this.
To the unacquainted and/or English-speaking ear, salsa sounds foreign. There’s the Spanish, for one. Then there are the one hundred and one instruments; it’s a lot to take in. Just one glance at an El Gran Combo or Sonora Carruseles album cover is intimidating. Trying to identify a discernable beat, much less trying to dance to one, can be trying in itself. Beyond the superficial, though, lies a rhythmic utopia speaking of the same heartaches, trials and successes we all face every day.
For example, you may not know the difference between a conga and a bongo, or between on1 and on2, but I’d bet money that you know what it’s like to be hurt, possibly deceived, by someone you’ve loved. You’ve probably even belted out a song or two to guide you through a broken heart. Maybe you’ve even fantasized about calling him or her out for the dog that he or she is. In public.
“Ese Hombre” by India is as cathartic a song as any. It’s gratifying, it’s powerful and it can hold its own against “I Will Survive” in the I-don’t-need-a-man arena. It’s easy to emote to because India’s delivery is so intense and true. But you might never have known that if you don’t speak Spanish or listen to salsa music.
To that effect, I’m not sorry about using the lyrics from her hit single “Ese Hombre” to fictionalize an interview with la Princesa de la Salsa. Now you know about the song, you know what it means and why it should be a must-have on any girl’s iPod. Call it an excercise in creative fiction if you must, but I call it a creative lesson in differences.
Differences are good. We should preserve our differences. But it’s important to look past the differences to see just how alike we really are.
Return to ‘Interview’ here.
Born Linda Caballero, India received her nickname when she was seven from her grandmother in honor of her Taino Indian ancestors. As a music artist, she would be dubbed “la Princesa de la Salsa.” Her intuitive lyrics and passionate voice have contributed to the tropical music genre for nearly 20 years. “Ese Hombre” comes from her Dicen Que Soy album, which was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. For more information about India, la Princesa de la Salsa, please visit her website.