Tuesday, May 28, 2024

CULTURE | 03-09-2022 16:12

Argentina, a través de mis ojos Americanos

I have spent the last two years now as a spy, a spectator, enchanted from a distance by Argentina, and Buenos Aires specifically. And it’s all thanks to Soda Stereo.

At this point, I’m now pretty sure I know exactly what I’d do if the end was nigh — if I had just 24 hours left to live. All I’d want to do is buy a one-way ticket, wave goodbye to the United States, and get to Buenos Aires as fast as humanly possible. It is, no question, an exceedingly destination-specific bucket list. And I blame it on, get this — discovering and falling in love with Soda Stereo during the pandemic.

Yes, I’m that guy. Ridiculously, embarrassingly late to the party. The party that most of you already showed up to in the 1980s and 1990s, with even the party hosts themselves — Gustavo, Charly, and Zeta — having long ago taken their leave. I’m still in profound disbelief that it wasn’t until 2020 when I learned for the first time what you all have been singing at the top of your lungs for years: That nothing frees us, and nothing else remains, except musica ligera. What else can I say but that I’m here now, at least. Like Alice, having tumbled down the rabbit hole of this band, the music, and the birthplace at the end of the world from whence it all came.

For me, Soda was the key, albums like Canción Animal were the door, and somehow, all of a sudden, what’s an anachronism for you is fresh and exciting and newly alive for me. And at the point of maximum misery during the pandemic, no less. Indeed, it felt like the bad news would never end, stuck at home and locked down — which, in hindsight, is probably as good a time as any to add Soda Stereo to the soundtrack of your life. One day bled into another and another, and then there they were.

Gustavo singing about being a million light years from home sounded more relevant than ever, at least to me.

Like the narrator in Persiana Americana, I have spent the last two years now as a spy, a spectator, enchanted from a distance by Argentina, and Buenos Aires specifically. I’ve even gone to the extreme of trying to learn Spanish — so, yeah, you could say I’m a fan.

It might sound a little odd for Soda to be the thing that helps a foreigner appreciate Argentina, especially now. Especially when so many Argentines I’ve met — after talking to them long enough — eventually unload on me about all of the problems, the frustrations, and the annoyances that there’s no need to repeat here. It’s certainly easy for me to say that a city like Buenos Aires is so captivating from a distance. I don’t have to live there. I don’t know what trying to find a job in that economy is like, or how hard things can be. I’m just a 42-year-old journalist from the US.

One of the few things I do know with some measure of certainty — thanks to a career that’s included writing about nearly every kind of misfortune you can think of — is this: Nada es para siempre. There will be good days again.

Speaking of good days, it’s August 27 as I write these words — 38 years to the day after the release of Soda’s debut album. And here I am, daydreaming about the first sip of mate I’ll enjoy and the bookstores I’ll visit in Buenos Aires. You all even have a Dia del Amigo — how beautiful is that? Nobody here where I live could tell you the name of their neighbour if their life depended on it.

One day soon, it’ll happen. Me veras volar por la ciudad de la furia. And if by chance, on that day, you come across an American lingering in front of one of the murals of Gustavo, you don’t need to wonder what he’s doing there. In that moment of quiet reflection, it’s just his way of saying Gracias Totales.


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Andy Meek

Andy Meek


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