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Revolutionary Music : “I don’t know philosophy” – Alí Primera ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Ramón Santiago, Guest Columnist, Axis of Logic. Music: Ali Primera
Album: No Solo De Vida Vive El Hombre
Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012

Editor's Note: After corresponding and publishing with Axis of Logic writers, Venezuelan Arturo Rosales and the intrepid Latin American independent journalist, Ramón Santiago, this is the first time we've seen them team up. Ramón, writes a follow-up to Arturo's recent article on Paul Gillman's metal band, both featuring the music of Ali Primera and Arturo translating Ramón's essay into English for Axis Readers. Big thanks to both of them!

- Les Blough, Editor

After Axis of Logic published the news about revolutionary metal rock icon Paul Gillman winning the MTV World Poll for the Best Male Metal Voice of All Time a few days ago and complemented the text with some lyrics of Venezuela’s greatest singer-songwriter, Alí Primera, I thought it would be a positive idea to offer more of Alí Primera’s revolutionary music to Axis readers.

The following song “Yo no sé filosofar” (“I don’t know philosophy”) is one of Alí’s key compositions when addressing the problem of exploitation of human beings by the corporations and landowners in Latin America. Exploitation is a recurrent theme in Alí’s work and is the main reason for the masses and workers to rise up to break the hegemony of capitalism and the inhuman condition imposed by greed and lustful avarice in developing nations. Unions are generally not too strong and in the case of Venezuela when Alí was writing in the 1970’s, they were very corrupt, and so the only solution is to “go with the boys and start the revolution”.

Needless to say that with only some 10 – 15 years having passed since the victory of the Cuban Revolution and the defeat of imperialist CIA forces during the Bay of Pigs invasion, many young men were inspired by Fidel and Che Guevara to revolutionize Venezuelan society which, at that time, was uncompromisingly allied with the imperialist and exploitative policies of the US.

In but few words Alí manages to express the resentment of being exploited as a worker, laboring for long hours under a baking sun, so that his “sir” can live better while be breaks his back and does not even earn enough to pay for his sweat.

“Yo no sé filosofar” has been used many times on Venezuelan State TV (VTV) as background or introductory music for programs such as Mario Silva’s opinion program, La Hojilla (The Razorblade), which is merciless and unyielding in its criticism of the neoliberal bourgeoisie that seeks to return to power in Venezuela.

Most Venezuelans will know this song – especially those that unconditionally support the Revolution which, ironically, has ushered in changes which have offset the need for a violent revolution. The Bolivarian revolution is democratic, characterized by direct participation, voting and national referendums where necessary. However, it is not “unarmed” but boasts the people as the major protagonist of the time of change taking place in the last 13 years.

If there is ever the need to defend the Revolution against aggression then the Venezuelan people will have “Yo no sé filosofar” there to inspire them to protect the social advances made against the twin evils of exploitation and inequality. It is a stark reminder of how bad things used to be.

Here is the song with a translation of Alí lyrics into English by Axis of Logic columnist, Arturo Rosales.

Yo No Se Filosofar – I don’t know philosophy

Usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar
pero lo que me sobra
me basta para pensar
que me tiene jorobao
ya de tanto trabajar
usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar.

Please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy
but what I do really know now
is enough to make me think
and that it also make me pissed
from working myself to death
please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy

Yo soy quien levanta el sol
yo soy quien acuesta el sol
yo lo soporto en el lomo
pa que usted viva mejor
usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar

It’s me who gets up at daybreak
it’s me who goes to bed at nightfall
and it’s me who breaks my back
so that you can live very well
please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy

Trabajar y trabajar
y no me alcanza ni pa el sudor
de tanto tragar el humo
tengo humo en el corazón
usted me perdona don
y su alta saciedad
yo me voy con los muchachos
carajo a hacer la revolución
usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar.

Working more and more
doesn´t even pay for my sweat
and from swallowing so much smoke
I’ve got smoke lodged in my heart
please forgive me sir
and you greedy high society
but I’m leaving with the boys
to go and start the revolution
please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy

Yo soy quien levanta el sol
yo soy quien acuesta el sol
yo lo soporto en el lomo
pa que usted viva mejor
usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar.

It’s me who gets up at daybreak
it’s me who goes to bed at nightfall
and it’s me who breaks my back
so that you can live very well
please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy

Trabajar y trabajar
y no me alcanza ni pa el sudor
de tanto tragar el humo
tengo humo en el corazón
usted me perdona don
y su alta sociedad
yo me voy con los muchachos
carajo a hacer la revolución
usted me perdona don
yo no sé filosofar

Working more and more
doesn´t even pay for my sweat
and from swallowing so much smoke
I’ve got smoke lodged in my heart
please forgive me sir
and you greedy high society
but I’m leaving with the boys
to go and start the revolution
please forgive me sir
I don´t know philosophy

Alí Primera - translation for Axis of Logic by Arturo Rosales

READ HIS BIO AND MORE ANALYSES AND ESSAYS BY
AXIS OF LOGIC'S GUEST COLUMNNIST, RAMÓN SANTIAGO

© Copyright 2014 by AxisofLogic.com

This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!


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