A few days ago, Lorenzo found a small jewel in Televisión Española’s website, a programme devoted to a song I used to listen to when I was about twenty, Gabinete Caligari’s Camino Soria (The Way To Soria). In this programme the presenter, Juan Carlos Ortega, offers us a delightful twenty-minute piece of reminiscence. As he tracks the history of the song, he embarks on a personal journey: he recognizes places he used to visit, remembers a girl who rejected him, and he even meets one of my generation’s national heroes, the legendary National Radio DJ Jesús Ordovás.
Ordovás accurately defines Camino Soria as a song-river, because it’s like a flow that carries you downhill. It tells the story of a man who has been abandoned by the woman he loves and decides to embark on a journey to Soria, a small town on the banks of the River Duero in the cold lands of Castilla. Soria has strong links with the poets Machado and Becquer, but Gabinete’s lead singer, Jaime Urrutia, confesses that they chose the name because it rhymed with history (historia), glory (gloria) and memory (memoir).
The programme ends with Juan Carlos and Jaime sitting together on a wooden bench next to the river Duero. Jaime takes the guitar he has been carrying the entire journey out of its case and starts strumming the chords, singing the first lines of the song. Juan Carlos joins him. They sing slightly out of key and Jaime sometimes forgets the chords, but Juan Carlo’s face reflects the joy of reminiscence.
A few weeks ago I had a similar experience along Regent’s Canal. This is one of the most enjoyable walks in London. It was a day that announced spring, the sun was shining brightly for the first time in months and there was an atmosphere of anticipation. We started near King’s Cross, next to the site of Central Saint Martins, one of the best arts and design schools in the world. The building is located in a square covered with little fountains that throw jets of water into the air. There was a group of children in their swimsuits jumping about with contagious thrill. On the terraces that lead to the canal groups of young people were basking in the early spring sun.
Our walk along the Canal was like Camino Soria; we just went with the flow and observed what we found along the way: we came across a young man who had prepared a barbeque receiving his first guest, several couples holding hands, a group of boys having a row under one of the bridges... There were houses whose gardens led to the canal and barges where people lived.
Some areas were busy and noisy, like the stretch that crosses Camden Lock, and others were peaceful and silent.
When we reached Regent’s Garden, we saw the back of the aviary from the zoo and when we finally reached little Venice, we found a harbour full of barges that looked like a little village.
We were about to reach the end of our walk, which lasted for more than four hours, when we came across a huge blackboard with the words “BEFORE I DIE...” written a hundred times. There were pieces of chalk for those who wanted to write a message. In the spur of the moment, I scrawled the first thing that came to my mind: “I want to meet Paul Weller”.
For me Paul Weller was the beginning of all. I was an 11-year-old when I listened to “Going Underground” for the first time. This song was like an epiphany, a sudden realization that there was a world beyond my little life in a town in Southern Spain in 1980. Music has played a key role in my life since then.
When we left the Canal in Little Venice, we walked down the street, crossed it and... guess who was on the other side, holding the hand of a little boy? Paul Weller.
You can watch “La mitad invisible: Camino Soria” at http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/la-mitad-invisible/mitad-invisible-camino-soria/1629082/
You can watch the video “Going Underground” at http://youtu.be/AE1ct5yEuVY
By the way, do you recognize the poster in the background?
Photos: Lorenzohernandez www.photolorenzohernandez.com