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'See pattern': the dwarf salary and the cross on the back

Aníbal Sampayo himself once recounted that time he sang 'Vea patrón' at the Cosquín festival, an annual folkloric show that had begun to be held in 1961 – with the Uruguayan singer as one of his inaugural figures – and which ended up becoming the main Argentine celebration of the "native song". Sampayo continued participating in all the editions throughout the 60s, but that link was broken, precisely, on the day he presented this topic, which is often referred to simply as 'Patrón'. "In my opinion," the artist said, "already in 1969 the festival was more influenced by the multinationals than by the neighbors who founded it (…). As I was heading towards the stage, the man who was in charge of the lists of the repertoires approached me and asked me: 'What are you going to sing,' Patrón ', what is it?' 'A milonga', I replied. 'Yes, but what is it?' He insisted. 'Oh, now when I hear it, he's going to know,' I replied. (…) In my second entry to the scene, I was not allowed to act anymore. It was the last time I participated in Cosquín. "

What did that song have to displease the powerful in such an immediate and visceral way? 'See pattern' becomes the dark reverse of a love milonga, since it narrates a relationship between exploiter and exploited, with a tone that begins with lamentation and ends up in warning. The letter, punctuated again and again by the word 'patron', exhorts a landowner to contemplate the living conditions of his day laborers, with an indignation that is channeled deeply poetically. «Patron, that shadow that shivers behind his cattle, / footprint and rags, eating sometimes, / pattern, for his interests … / There goes his pawn. / Pattern, that shadow that lifts its sheds, / sweat braided with other pawns, / pattern, for its ambitions … / There goes his pawn. / Pattern, that shadow, flesh in the sun, that breaks / with dwarf salary, its dark earth, / pattern, and that you enjoy … / There goes your pawn. / Patron, that shadow like a new Christ that walks, / stone in the chest, cross in the back, / pattern, and coughing rage … / There goes his pawn », He says. In the last two stanzas, that compassionate mood becomes rebellious and threatening, since "a shadow and another shadow make a storm" and "the gale has no reins", so that humble subjection can one day become a dagger in the throat of the pattern.

Sampayo, of Basque roots on the mother's side (his second surname was Arrastúe), recorded 'Vea patrón' on his 1971 album with the group Los Costeros, 'Hacia la aurora', although the song became famous especially in the versions also Uruguayan Alfredo Zitarrosa and the Chilean group Quilapayún, so popular in anti-Francoist circles of the time. Shortly after editing that record, the singer-songwriter was arrested for his militancy in the Tupamaros and spent eight years in prison. His concept of music was always linked to socio-political consciousness: "Art and commitment are united. The people are the possessor of an irreplaceable truth and experience, "he said. It is inevitable and essential that the creator makes his own the needs and rights of his people ». If we focus on the issue of 'See pattern', we will see that the artist -who died in 2007- showed already in his adolescence a manifest incompatibility with labor hierarchies: his first job, with 16 years, was in the railroad workshops Midland, but he quarreled with "the gringos" and left, and then went on to work with another boss "who was also a despot."

. (tagsToTranslate) patron (t) salary (t) dwarf (t) cross (t) back


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