Prog, Psych and Beyond from Spain, Argentina & Mexico (1970-79)

FrontTo celebrate the 200th post from Spanish Pop Lyrics, here is this blog’s second compilation, a sequel to the first which covered the years 1964-69.

All the songs are originals sung in Spanish. Mostly I would file them under progressive rock or psychedelia, but I have also thrown in a couple of blasts of blues rock and a few of the more progressive singer-songwriters from the period. It is split fairly evenly between bands from Spain and Argentina, but two groups from Mexico also make an appearance. Download

Almost all the songs have been featured on this blog (the couple which haven’t will appear in the near future). Anyway, you know where to look for the lyrics…




Part 15: Mercedes Sosa and Nueva Canción

Following on from the previous post, we really should take a closer look at Mercedes Sosa, one of the most internationally celebrated singers to emerge from Argentina. She was one of the key figures in the ‘Nueva Canción’ movement which developed in the 1960s across Latin America. This was a folk protest movement that reflected the troubled political situation of the times. Sosa championed many of these singer-songwriters, not just fellow Argentinians, but also artists from other countries, not least Chile (Victor Jara, Violeta Parra). In the early eighties she expanded her repertoire to include songs by rock artists including León Gieco and Charly García. These songwriters have all featured previously on this blog (click their names below to see their entries).

Sosa often closed her shows with this anthemic call to arms, written by Armando Tejada Gómez and César Isella. Performing such outspoken material was dangerous, particulary during the 1970s, and she was arrested on stage in 1978, along with the entire audience. Sosa went into exile, but she made a triumphant return to Argentina in 1982. Just a few months later the military regime collapsed. Her homecoming concert is the focus of the documentary ‘Como un Pájaro Libre’ (see below).


Salgo a caminar
por la cintura cósmica del sur
piso en la región 
mas vegetal del viento y de la luz
siento al caminar 
toda la piel de América en mi piel
y anda en mi sangre un rio 
que libera en mi voz, su caudal

Sol de Alto Perú, 
rostro Bolivia, estaño y soledad
un verde Brasil, 
besa a mi Chile, cobre y mineral
subo desde el sur 
Hacia la entraña América y total
Pura raíz de un grito destinado a
crecer y a estallar.

Todas las voces, todas
Todas las manos, todas
Toda la sangre puede 
ser canción en el viento
Canta conmigo, canta
Hermano americano,
Libera tu esperanza 
con un grito en la voz...

I go for a walk 
through the cosmic central band of the south
I tread along the region 
most fertile, of wind and of light
And as I walk I feel 
all the skin of the Americas against my skin
And a river runs through my blood
that frees my voice, (finding) its level

The sun in Peru at its height
The Bolivian landscape, tin and solitude
A green Brazil 
kisses my Chile, copper and ore
I climb up from the South 
towards the heart of America
The pure root of a cry destined to 
grow and explode

All the voices, all of them
All the hands, all of them
All the blood can 
be a song in the wind
Sing with me, sing
American brother
Set free your hope 
with a cry in your voice

Em - B7/D# - Ddim - A/C#
Am/C - Em
F#m-5 - B7
1st time: Em9... (and repeat)
2nd time: E - F - G (flamenco riff)

Chorus / Estribillo:
E - C - E - C
G - Bm - C 
1st time: Edim - B7
2nd time: B7


Part 14: A Great Female Singer Looks Back

Fabiana Cantilo first emerged as one of the singers on the first album by Los Twist in the early eighties, but she soon left to start a successful solo career. She is now considered one of the great female rock singers in Argentina. Her albums ‘Inconsciente Colectivo’ (2005) and ‘En la Vereda del Sol’ (2009) are both collections of covers of some of the best Argentine rock songs from the 1960s up to the present day.

Here is her version of ‘Inconsciente Colectivo’ (confusingly enough included on ‘En la Vereda del Sol’). It was originally released on Charly García’s first proper solo LP ‘Yendo de la Cama al Living’ (1982). The song started to receive more attention when it was covered by the iconic singer Mercedes Sosa (hear her live version below).


Nace una flor, 
todos los días sale el sol, 
de vez en cuando escuchas aquella voz 
Cómo de pan, gustosa de cantar, 
En los aleros de mi mente 
con las chicharras. 

Pero a la vez existe un transformador 
Que te consume lo mejor que tenés 
Te tira atrás, te pide más y más 
Y llega un punto 
en que no querés. 

Mamá la libertad, siempre la llevarás 
Dentro del corazón 
Te pueden corromper, te puedes olvidar 
Pero ella siempre está 

Ayer soñé con los hambrientos, 
Los locos, los que se fueron, 
Los que están en prisión 
Hoy desperté cantando esta canción 
Que ya fue escrita hace tiempo atrás. 
Es necesario cantar de nuevo, 
Una vez más.

A flower is born
The sun comes out every day
Sometimes you hear that voice
Like bread that smells so fresh (?)
On the eaves of my mind 
With the cicadas 

But at the same time there exists a transformer
Which consumes the best part of you
It holds you back, it asks for more and more
And you arrive at a point 
Where you can't stand it any more

Mother, you always carry freedom
Inside your heart
They can corrupt you, you can forget her
But she is always there

Yesterday I dreamed about the starving
The insane,  those who have left
Those who are in prison
Today I woke up singing this song
Which was already written long ago
We have to sing it again
One more time.


Part 5: Charly García – The Man With The Two-Tone ‘Tache

Charly García is arguably the most important songwriter to emerge from Argentinian rock. A piano prodigy from a priveliged background, his distinctive half white, half brown beard is apparently the result of a childhood trauma.

He first found success with Sui Generis, who combined strong singer-songwriter style material with rich arrangements in the early seventies. The group was a duo of García (vocals, keyboards) and Nito Mestre (vocals, flute). If they were Argentina’s answer to Simon and Garfunkel then García was Paul Simon – he wrote all the material. The group struck a chord with Argentinian youth, and their sensitive lyrics (a stark contrast to the machismo of many of their rivals) won them a large female following.

However, under their romantic surface García’s lyrics during the seventies frequently featured veiled criticisms of the government. Due to censorship during this period straight ahead protest songs were out of the question, forcing him into using metaphors and allegory. Arguably this has made his songs more interesting and durable.

The lyrics of the title track of their second album ‘Confesiones de Invierno’ (1973) are include below. Notice the massive cheer that this live version gets after the lyric ‘Las heridas son del oficial’.

They were hugely succesful, but the band edged towards prog-rock on their third album ‘Instituciones’ (1974). This combined with increasingly political lyrics lost them a lot of fans, and the group broke up after a lavish farewell concert in 1975.

Just before they split they were part of the short lived supergroup PorSuiGieco (Raul Porchetto, Sui Generis and Leon Gieco – the later often dubbed ‘the Argentinian Bob Dylan’).

García then formed La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros, a new group featuring drummer Oscar Moro (formely with Los Gatos). The group pursued the prog-rock direction of the last Sui Generis album, but were always in the shadow of that group. The political situation in Argentina was grim at this point and many musicians were fleeing the country (not least to Spain). After another ‘farewell’ concert in 1977 García left for Brazil.

In Brazil he formed Serú Girán, with drummer Moro, guitarist David Lebón (who had played with Sui Generis) and fretless bassist Pedro Aznar. They returned to Argentina but the slick prog of their debut was poorly received. A magazine article entitled ¿Ídolo O Qué? mocked the band, but they revealed their sense of humour by parodying the article on the cover of their second, far superior album. Things quickly turned around and by the time of ‘Bicicleta’ (1980) they were superstars – not just in Argentina but all over Latin America. In retrospect they acted as a kind of bridge between the prog rock of the seventies and the emerging new wave.

Serú Girán split in the early eighties, and Charly García started a solo career. Adapting easily to changing fashions and technology, his success continues to the present day.


Me echó de su cuarto 
No tienes profesión
Tuve que enfrentarme a mi condición
En invierno no hay sol
Y aunque digan 
que va a ser muy fácil
Es muy duro poder mejorar
Hace frío y me falta un abrigo
Y me pesa el hambre de esperar
¿Quién me dará algo para fumar
O casa en que vivir?
Sé que entre las calles debés estar
Pero no sé partir
Y la radio nos confunde a todos
Sin dinero la pasaré mal
Si se comen mi carne los lobos
No podré robarles la mitad
Dios es empleado en un mostrador
Da para recibir
¿Quién me dará un crédito, mi Señor? 
Sólo sé sonreír
Y tal vez esperé demasiado
Quisiera que estuvieras aquí
Cerrarán las puertas de este infierno
Y es posible que me quiera ir
Conseguí licor y me emborraché
En el baño de un bar
Fui a dar a la calle de un puntapié
Y me sentí muy mal
Y si bien yo nunca había bebido
En la cárcel tuve que acabar
La fianza la pagó un amigo
Las heridas son del oficial
Hace cuatro años que estoy aquí
Y no quiero salir
Ya no paso frío y soy feliz
Mi cuarto da al jardín
Y aunque a veces me acuerdo de ella
Dibujé su cara en la pared
Solamente muero los domingos
Y los lunes ya me siento bien
You threw me out of your room
Shouting at me
You don't have a profession
I had to confront my situation
There's no sun in winter
Even though they say
It's going to be easy
It's so hard to improve yourself
It's cold and I don't have a coat
And the hunger of waiting weighs me down
Who will give me something to smoke
Or somewhere to live?
I know you should be in the street
But I don't know how to set off
And the radio confuses everyone
Without money I will have a bad time
If the wolves eat my flesh
I won't be able to steal half of it back
God is a worker
at the counter
Lord, who will give me credit?
I only know how to smile
And maybe I waited too long
I wish that you were here
They will close all the gates in this hell
And I might want to leave
I got hold of some liquor and I got drunk
In the toilet of a bar
I went to give the street a kick
And I felt really bad
And even though I had never drunk
I had to end up in prison
A friend paid my bail
My wounds are from the officer
I've been here for four years
And I don't want to leave
Now I don't feel cold and I'm happy
My room overlooks the garden
And although at times I think of her
I drew her face on the wall
I only die on Sundays
And by Monday I already feel better

DISCOGRAPHY 1972-1982:

Sui Generis:

Vida (1972). Strong songs in the singer-songwriter vein, with rich arrangements.

Confesiones de Invierno (1973). Continues in the same style as their debut. Their biggest hit.

Instituciones (1974). Introduces elements of prog-rock, but still highly melodic.


PorSuiGieco (1976): Laid back soft rock album from this short lived supergroup.

La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros:

La Máquina (1976). Continues on from the final Sui Generis album. Prog but with songs and melody.

Películas (1977). More jazz influenced and dated than their debut.

Serú Girán:

Serú Girán (1978). Symphonic prog with fretless bass and Bee Gees style vocals. Yikes!

La Grasa de las Capitales (1979). Still slick, but more accesible and with stronger songs than their debut.

Bicicleta (1980). Sophisticated pop with elements of jazz-fusion. This was their biggest hit.

Peperina (1981). Ballad heavy and rather directionless final album.

Charly García:

Yendo de la Cama al Living (1982). García buys a drum machine and goes solo. It suits him.


Sui Generis enjoyed huge success with the melodic rock of their first two albums. For their third album they changed direction, edging toward prog-rock. The country had entered a period of instability after the death of President Perón and Pequeñas Anécdotas Sobre las Instituciones’ (1974) was full of angry politicised lyrics criticising the situation. The record label got cold feet and forced the band to censor some of the lyrics and to drop a couple of the more contentious tracks completely.

Ironically, one of the tracks which was mutilated is this one – a satire on censorship! Actually, I don’t think the song suffers too much from the cut, but I’ve included the censored section at the end of the lyrics. Señor Tijeras is a caricature of Miguel Paulino Tato, who was the notorious official film censor during this period.

Fans of Sui Generis were not enamoured by this new direction, and ‘Instituciones’ was a relative failure, leading to the break up of the group. They played a farewell concert is 1975, which was released as the film ‘Adiós Sui Generis’. Of course it had to be passed for certification by Señor Tato, and he gave it an 18 certificate! Actually, he was probably right to protect the kids from the extended bass solo (about 51 minutes in – see below).

Here is an excellent article (in Spanish) with more information:





Escondido atrás de su escritorio vi

Un ser bajo, pequeño,

correcto y gentil

Atiende los teléfonos

y nunca está

Mira a su secretaria


desnuda y en su cama

Y vuelve a trabajar


Entra en el micro-cine

y toma ubicación

Hace gestos y habla sin definición

Se va con la película hasta su hogar

Le da un beso a su esposa

y se vuelve a encerrar

a oscuras y en su sala

De cuidar la moral


Entra ella y se va desvistiendo

Lentamente y casi sonriendo

Alta, blanca, algo exuberante

Dice “ahora”

Y camina hacia adelante

Mira al hombre pequeño

Que se raya

Cuando ella sale de la pantalla


El hombre la acuesta

sobre la alfombra

La toca y la besa

pero no la nombra

Se contiene, suda

y después

con sus tijeras plateadas

le corta su cuerpo,

le corta su cuero,

deforma su cara,

y así mutilada

la lleva cargada a la pantalla

justo a la mañana


No conozco tu cuerpo

ni se más quién sos

Vi tu nombre en los diarios,

y nadie te vio

La pantalla que sangra

ya nos dice adiós

Te veré

en veinte años en televisión,

cortada y aburrida

A todo color

A todo color


Parte censurada:

Yo detesto a la gente

que tiene el poder

De decir lo que es bueno

y lo que es malo también

Solo el pueblo, mi amigo,

es capaz de entender

los censores de ideas

temblarían de horror

ante el hombre libre

con su cuerpo al sol




Hidden behind his desk I saw

A short little guy

proper and helpful

He answers the phones

and he’s never there

He’s looking at his secretary


Her naked in bed

And he goes back to work


He goes in the film booth

and notes the position

He makes gestures and mumbles

He goes home with the film

He gives his wife a kiss

And goes back to shut himself

Away in his room in the dark

To take care of morality


She enters then leaves, undressing

Slowly and almost smiling

Tall, white, with a full figure

She says “now”

And walks forward

Look at the little man

Who goes crazy

When she comes out on the screen


The man lies

on the carpet

He touches and kisses her

But he doesn’t name her

He restrains himself, sweating

And then

With his silver scissors

He cuts her body,

He cuts her skin,

He deforms her face

And now mutilated

He loads her onto the screen

Just in time for the morning


I know neither your body

Nor more about who you are

I saw your name in the papers,

And nobody saw you

The bleeding screen

Now bids us goodbye

I will see you

In twenty years on TV,

Cut and boring

In full color

In full color


Censored part:

I hate the people

who have the power

Those who say what is good

And what is bad as well

Only the people, my friend,

Are able to understand

The censors

would tremble with fear

In front of a free man

With his body in the sun




Margaret Thatcher died a couple of days ago. Not everyone loved her!

Charly García is Argentinian, and he first found success in the group Sui Generis (who were the topic of a previous post). By 1982 he had gone solo, and this is his reaction to the Falklands war. It appears on his LP ‘Yendo de la Cama al Living’. He’s scared but that doesn’t prevent some tongue in cheek sexual tension between Charly and Maggie. 




No bombardeen Buenos Aires

no nos podemos defender

los pibes de mi barrio

se escondieron en los caños

espían al cielo,

usan cascos, curten mambos

escuchando a Clash – Sandinista!


Estoy temiendo a un rubio ahora

no sé a quién temeré después

terror y desconfianza por los juegos

por las transas, por las canas,

por las panzas, por las ansias,

por las rancias cunas de poder,

cunas de poder, Margarita.


Si querés escucharé a la BBC

aunque quieras que

lo hagamos de noche

y si quieres

darme un beso alguna vez

es posible que me suba a tu coche

pero no bombardeen Buenos Aires.


No quiero el mundo de Cinzano

no tengo que perder la fe

quiero treparte

pero no pasa nada

ni siquiera puedo comerme un bife

y sentirme bien

tengo hambre, tengo miedo.


Los ghurkas siguen avanzando

los viejos siguen en TV

los jefes de los chicos

toman whisky con los ricos

mientras los obreros

hacen masa en la plaza

como aquella vez.


Si querés escucharé a la BBC…



Don’t bomb Buenos Aires

We can’t defend ourselves

The kids in my neighbourhood

Hid themselves underground

They were watching the sky

They wear helmets, (take drugs?)

Listening to the Clash – Sandinista!


Now I’m living in fear of a blonde

I don’t know who I will fear after her

Terror and mistrust of the games

of compromise, of grey haired men

of pot bellied men, of anxiety

of the ancient cradles of power

Cradles of power – Margaret


If you want I will listen to the BBC

Even though you want us

to do it at night

If you want

you can kiss me some time

I just might get in your car

But don’t bomb Buenos Aires


I don’t want the world of cocktails

I don’t have to lose my faith

I want to shag you

but it doesn’t matter

I can’t even eat a steak

and feel good

I’m hungry, I’m scared


The Ghurkas keep advancing

The old men are still on TV

The commanders of the troops

They drink whisky with the rich

While the workers

congregate in the town square

like way back when


If you want I will listen to the BBC…




bombardear – to bomb, to bombard

The imperative third person plural requires the present subjunctive – bombardeen