Cuba’s Silvio Rodríguez: Unicornio

Silvio Rodríguez is a legend in Latin American folk music, one of the best singer-songwriters yet. He is now 74, so you can imagine the changes he has witnessed in the world and in his native Cuba. He has released 2 EPs (1968 and 1969), 17 studio albums (including one in 2020), 5 live albums and 3 collaborative albums! His friend taught him to play the guitar and Rodríguez eventually came to be known for his chord picking style. He is the leader of the Nueva Trova movement, which is more political than traditional trova. Rodríguez was active in the Cuban Revolution.


Rodríguez in 1969 (Wikimedia Commons)

Here is a beautiful song by ‘Silvio’, Unicornio, that became very popular in Latin America. The performance is in a stadium packed with 90,000 people in Chile on March 31, 1990, 20 days after the ‘end’ of the transition to democracy following the brutal Pinochet military dictatorship. Pinochet’s violent reign was particularly damaging as it had ended the nearly four year period of democracy and socialism in Chile under President Salvador Allende, who was ousted in 1973 with support from the US CIA during the Cold War period. After so many years of fear-filled life under Pinochet, Chileans were relieved to have democracy. This concert captures joyful freedom and group unity.

Mi unicornio azul ayer se me perdió,
pastando lo dejé y desapareció.
Cualquier información
bien la voy a pagar.
Las flores que dejó,
no me han querido hablar.
Yesterday I lost my blue unicorn,
I left him grazing and he disappeared.
I will pay well
for any information.
The flowers that he left,
have not wanted to speak to me.
Mi unicornio azul ayer se me perdió,
no sé si se me fue,
no sé si se extravió,
y yo no tengo más
que un unicornio azul.
Si alguien sabe de él,
le ruego información,
Cien mil o un millón [de amor]
yo pagaré.
Mi unicornio azul se me ha perdido ayer,
se fue.
Yesterday I lost my blue unicorn,
I don’t know if he left me,
I don’t know if he got lost,
and I don’t have more
than a blue unicorn.
If anyone knows about him,
I beg them for information,
One hundred thousand, or a million [in love]
I will pay.
I lost my blue unicorn yesterday,
he left.
Mi unicornio y yo
hicimos amistad,
un poco con amor,
un poco con verdad.
Con su cuerno de añil
pescaba una canción,
saberla compartir
era su vocación.
My unicorn and I
made a friendship,
a bit with love,
a bit with truth.
With his indigo horn
he fished a song,
knowing how to share it
was his vocation.
Mi unicornio azul ayer se me perdió,
y puede parecer acaso una obsesión.
Pero no tengo más
que un unicornio azul
y aunque tuviera dos,
yo sólo quiero aquel.
Yesterday I lost my blue unicorn,
and it might seem perhaps like an obsession.
But I don’t have more
than a blue unicorn
and even if I were to have two,
I only want that one.
Cualquier información la pagaré.
Mi unicornio azul se me ha perdido ayer,
se fue.
I will pay for any information.
I lost my blue unicorn yesterday,
he left.

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