catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 7 :: 2005.04.08 — 2005.04.21


Mart?n Buscaglia

Through the doorway at the back of the bar at Caf? Libertad 8 is a small room with a few tables. In one corner is a small stage with an old piano, the likes of which I’ve only seen in the home of my grandmother. An African drum is lying on its side, and a classical guitar is balanced on the chair behind a microphone and stand.

The sign out front said the concert starts at 10 PM, and it’s past 10:30 when Mart?n Buscaglia enters from a door in the back of the room, giving two kisses to friends at various tables before settling down in the chair behind the microphone. He leans his guitar against the piano and reaches for a small rhythm instrument, a wooden egg-shaped object, cupping it between his hands and smiling at those of us around the tables before singing his first song, a simple melody, just his voice and this rhythm instrument, which sounds like a soft hand clap.

The night was like this—something so simple about it all. Just a guy and his music, nothing more. Through the course of the night, Mart?n jumped from one instrument to the next, strumming his guitar, of course, but also fiddling with a hand harp, singing a duet with a recorded conversation from a friend of his, even making sounds I’ve only heard in old horror films from an instrument called the theremin, which looks like a radio antenna and is the only instrument I know of that you play without touching. Still, there was a simplicity about the way he brought each song to life.

Between songs as Mart?n strummed chords, he laughed with us, making jokes, spontaneously bursting into songs about the concert itself, ending the evening with a song about how disappointed he was that Metro Line 3, the closest metro to where he was staying in Madrid, was closed over the summer for restoration, something anyone living in the city could relate to.

Mart?n’s songs weren’t garbled with abstract lyrics I only could have made sense of if I were discussing them in a university classroom. They were more like conversations I’d have with a close friend over a cup of coffee. Mart?n’s songs ranged from a playful rendition of the theme song from the A-Team, that much loved TV show on after school when I was a kid, to a song called “Mil Cosas” (MP3 file) about the thousands of things we learn over the course of a lifetime.

After the concert, two of my friends and I were walking home, surging with the energy that comes after a great concert and talking about what we thought of the music. I realized that Mart?n had both inspired me and terrified me at the same time.

I was inspired by the fact that Mart?n made his music so accessible, so tangible, so relevant to me. As an aspiring writer and guitar player, I felt like his music was saying to me, “See, art doesn’t have to be complicated or sophisticated. The only thing you need to do is to tell the truth.” The thought made me want to come right home and write this article.

What terrified me, however, was exactly that. Good art isn’t about fancy lyrics or about gorgeous guitar licks. Good art is about telling the truth. That’s the most difficult task there is.

Ninety-nine percent of the time when I’m writing an article, and I’m stuck, literally pulling out my hair (excuse the clich?, but it’s true), lying on my bed staring at the ceiling, or simply staring at the computer, fuming, it’s not because I’m looking for the perfect word, it’s because I don’t know how to say what I mean.

Pardon the imagery, but the best metaphor I think of is childbirth. Writing for me is like giving birth to a truth that’s been growing inside me, something I’ve never quite expressed until that moment when it leaves my head and shows up on the computer screen. That’s hard work. That’s what terrifies me.

And if I’m honest, that’s what I love about writing. I get to tell the truth. It scares me to the point of mental paralysis for weeks sometimes, but it’s what keeps me coming back to the keyboard.

So, I’ll end with a thanks. Thanks, Mart?n, for your concert. Because of you, I was able to write something today that I couldn’t have yesterday.

Download free mp3 samples of Mart?n Buscaglia’s music or view a 360? panorama of Caf? Libertad 8.

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