Flamenco references


"...Flamenco-sweep the air."

Flamenco is a cultural philosophy that includes unique forms of music, dance and expression. The movement was born in Spain when displaced Gypsies arriving from India, and later Germany and continental Europe, began to experiment with cultural symbols and rituals apart from those of the Catholic Church. The origin of the philosophy is not precisely known, but it came into prominence in Spain during the 1960's. One Flamenco guitar book notes that Flamenco is "emotion, it's strength, it's dancing, it's passion."

The Inquisitive Traveler adds that the origins are not the only mysterious aspect of Flamenco: "Even the origin of its name is elusive. Some attribute it to the early 1500s and the Flemish courtiers during the reign of Spain’s Charles V. Their bright clothing inspired the names given things garish or conspicuous, such as flamingoes and flamenco.

Others say flamenco, still referring to the Flemish, was the nationality erroneously given by the common people to Gypsies. Still others claim the name comes from the Arabic fellah mangu, the laborer who sings."

The "Flamenco-sweep" itself is a four-fingered technique used to play guitar in the Flamenco style. Flamenco dancing is a fluid form of movement that is best known for the way in which the dancer twirls and for the rhythmic and distinctive clapping (left hand held still at ear level while the four finger tips of the right hand slap the left palm) performed by those watching the dance. The dancers themselves are described in a way that may ring familiar for Hip fans: "The flamenco dancer performs with passion, fervor, even tortured expressions but always striving for grace and dignity."

"Flamenco" Chuck Keyser wrote a well known academic expression of Flamenco philosophy. It is introspective and ponderous and carries similarities to the writing style and sentiments of Gord Downie: "My own view of Flamenco is that it is an artistic expression of the intense awareness of the existential human condition. It is an effort to come to terms with the concept that we are all 'strangers who are afraid, in a world we never made;' that there is probably no higher being and that even if he/she (or it) is irrelevant to the human condition in the final analysis. The truth in Flamenco is that life must be lived and death must be faced on an individual basis; that is the fundamental responsibility of each man to come to terms with their own alienation with courage, dignity and humour, and to support others in their efforts. It is an excruciatingly honest art form."

"...Walk like a matador."

Another well known aspect of Spanish culture are the matador's (bull fighters) and their "brave" encounters with dumb, terrified and helpless bulls. While the bull has four legs and horns, the "fearless" matador has only his clothes, that were designed with bull-vision-impairing patterns and colours, the distracting and disorienting roar of the crowd... oh, and a weapon. But hey, its old, so it must be right. After all, it's "traditional."

The lovable butchers do have an interesting history though. Throughout the Spanish War of Reconquest, which lasted a scant eight hundred years, the Moors ("I'm sorry, the card says Moops") Christians and knights of the royal army decided that when they tired of killing each other, they'd begin killing ornery cows. Hence, the matadors were born. None better than this guy:

"...And turn breezes into rivulets." 

A rivulet is a small drop or stream of liquid. In literature it could be used to describe "rivulets of tears ran down her face." 

Rivulets is also the name of a Minnesota based acoustic guitarist who is described in one review as: “often driven only by voice or quiet guitar, Rivulets is frighteningly gentle, yet genuinely powerful. Most often, the music suggests the isolation and odd beauty found at the center of an iced-over lake in the middle of winter.”

"...Maybe I'll go to New York,
I'll drag you there
You said, "no one drags me anywhere"

The self proclaimed capital of the world, New York City is certainly the most feared, fabled, fawned-over and fabulous place on earth. Just between us, but I do have it on good authority: if you can make it there, you may in fact be capable of making it anywhere. In the early 1980’s, the city was briefly occupied by an unarmed band of fluffy miscreants.

Of course, the song may be referencing the state instead of the city. In that case, let’s go to Schenectady shall we?

My "Glove Hand" story

This took place during a performance of Flamenco, Dec of 2005, The Phoenix, Toronto:

"The Glove Hand" was probably the highlight of the night. Gord had spoken to me about a hockey game that he and the guys had played just a few hours before show time. Gord was in net of course, and his reflexes served him well later in the night. During the show, the guy beside me asked "does Gord smoke?" I really had no idea, but said: "Yeah, think so." So right in the middle of “Flamenco,” this guy hurled a cigarette in Gord's direction. It cartwheeled, end over end, right toward Gord. Downie pulled the most incredible Patrick Roy glove save I had ever seen. He swept his arm up with lightening speed and snatched the cigarette out of mid air. He'd caught it between his fingers, perfectly, as if he'd been casually holding it there all night. Our entire section gave out a cry of "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!" like you'd hear at hockey games or during rap battles on TV (snap! you got schooled!) Gord looked right at the thrower, and then at me, with a look of "damn right. I caught it with my bare friggin' hands." He eventually pretended to take a drag off the smoke just as he sang the “no one drags me anywhere” lyric from the song. As if it were planned. It was the most ridiculous and awesome thing I ever did see at a rock 'n roll show. Amazingly, Lance managed to capture the moment on film:

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