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Polo Montañez: A Natural Peasant, Owner of Masses of Stars

Polo Montañez: A Natural Peasant, Owner of Masses of Stars

Posted by PanamericanWorld on September 27, 2016

Shooting stars are watched by many people to ask for good things. They are the brightest stars because of their proximity to us. We always keep the pleasant memory of having seen them, felt them and even reached out to them in the brief opportunity of distance.

Like a shooting star, Cuban singer Polo Montañez passed away. The people, charcoal, trees and lagoons were his roots. He was a born songwriter, who knew nothing about philosophy or the mathematics of C, D, E. He wasn’t taught by an expert. This “Natural Peasant” lives in the memory of the Cuban people and lovers around the world. Those who accompanied him throughout his musical career say that Polo Montañez used to write his songs while he was driving a tractor, swimming, walking in the rain, under the son or moon, working the land... and even when he was sleeping.

Polo always pointed out that his songs had come out of his soul, there were no arrangements or letters written on a piece of paper until de song was complete. He used to feel it first, then la-la-la, accompaniment by the TRES, until he believed the song was ready to be written down.

His walk was unhurried, like a free animal walking through the country side. His words were simple, no overelaborated terms or directs quotes learned at school. Along with his father and 12 siblings, he used to liven up parties at his home town “El Brujito”, nestled in Las Terrazas, Pinar del Rio province, at the westernmost region of Cuba.

People say that at the age of 7 he was already “playing” a conga drum in family parties; and when he was 12 he used to sing country songs in serenades and celebrations.

Fame touched the door of Fernando Borrego Linares – the name given to Polo Montañez by his parents – at the age of 44, when the Natural Peasant was performing with his band at La Moka Hotel, in his home town.

It was there where he was identified, back in 1999, by the producer of Lusafrica record company, who was delighted by the Pinar del Rio-born singer and took him to Colombia in order to sing with renowned Cesaria Evora. The producer later sponsored two of his albums: Guajiro Natural (Natural Peasant), in 2001 and Guitarra Mia (My Guitar), in 2002.

In less than a year —the second half of 2001— he was heading the hit parades in Cuban radio stations with his song entitled "Un Montón de Estrellas (A Mass of Stars)".

And when I’m up in the sky.

When I get to the top...

I’m going to fight for it

To stay on top

Such prestigious singers as Marc Anthony, who did a version of famous song “Flor Palida (Pale Flower)”; Ruben Blades, Andy Montañez, Margarita Francisco, Candido Fabre, Francisco Repilado (Compay Segundo), Eliades Ochoa, Adalberto Alvarez, Danny Rivera and Gilberto Santa Rosa, have sung the Natural Peasant’s lyrics.

His peculiar voice was recorded in the memory of thousands of Cuban people and foreigners that met him or heard about him after he was gone.

His rich songwriter work engulfs over a hundred songs, most of which are unpublished and comprise different musical expressions. His tireless friend, his guitar, is exhibited at his home in Las Terrazas.

Perhaps, when people hear the sound of strings in the middle of the quiet night in this town, it’s because Polo’s guitar is playing those songs.

The Natural Peasant was the first and only self-taught Cuban musician that won Gold and Platinum Disks. He sold over 40 thousand copies, which positioned him as the most popular Cuban artist in the early days of this century.

His music, turned into tobacco, coffee, ox team and charcoal reached out to France, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica; and the one he loved as his second homeland, Colombia, so he even dedicated a song to that country.

La Ultima Cancion (The Last Song)

I think the last song the comes to my mind

must be a romantic one

a sentimental song carrying tons of love

so the heart is bathed by tears.

The singer was surrounded by mysticism after his death, since people say he prophesied his passing with the song entitled “La Ultima Cancion”. On November 26, 2002, at 11:20 p.m., six days after his car collided with a truck, Polo Montañez stopped singing in this world.

The last minute of my life should be,

I think it should be romantic

when I can say the final truth

about love, coolness and disappointment.

After having spent a week hospitalized at Havana’s Carlos J. Finlay Hospital, 47 years after June 5, 1955 and with only 24 months of fame and popularity, the owner of masses of stars went up to shine among them.

The last corner where I hide should be

I think it should be bitter

a well-hidden place, where I can even cry

and nobody knows about it.

Afterwards, singer and songwriter Jose Valladares paid tribute to Polo with his song “Cazador de Estrellas (Star Hunter)”, which was performed by such artists as Pedrito Calvo, Paulo FG, Jenny (vocalist of Cuban Los Van Van), among others.

In 2004, the record company that accompanied the Natural Peasant, Lusafrica, launched a CD entitled Memorias (Memories)” and “El Guajiro (The Peasant)” DVD was put out a year later.

El único futuro de mi vida debe ser,

creo que debe ser extraño

no creo que la suerte, ahora me venga a sonreír

después de haber vivido tantos años.

No soy de los que creo fácilmente al despertar

que el día puede ser exacto

hay días para mí, que me entretengo nada más

mirando los colores de mi cuarto.

Por eso en el último minuto intentaré

hacer mi corazón elástico

me quedan todavía muchas cosas por saber

por eso lucharé hasta el cansancio.

Aunque el último rincón donde me esconda debe ser

creo que debe ser amargo

un lugar bien oculto, donde pueda hasta llorar

que nadie sepa mi llanto.

El único futuro de mi vida debe ser

creo que debe ser extraño

no creo que la suerte ahora me venga a sonreír

después de haber vivido tantos años....

el último minuto de mi vida debe ser romántico.

By Claudia Dupeirón / PanamericanWorld - Pinar del Río


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