Paranoia or possibility? The song that Charly García wrote in the middle of the War of the Malvinas and that transmitted the fear of an entire city

Charlie Garcia he was locked up in Garden Studios for the recording of the soundtrack angelic pubes, Manuel Puig’s version of director Raúl de la Torre. There were no quiet days in early 1982. In the Plaza de Mayo Leopoldo Galtieri challenged the English power with his “if they want to come, come”. And then García went back to seclusion, this time in his home, moving from the bed to the living room, and he left a few words engraved for the story: “The gurkas keep moving forward, the old men keep on TV / The boys’ bosses drink whiskey with the rich / While the workers gather in the square / Like that time, like that time “.

“Don’t bomb Buenos Aires” like a lucid and cynical track of the time, a period in which Charly wanted to break away from Serú Girán: after recording the album Move from the bed to the living room – which would then become double Going from the bed to the living room / Angelic pubis (1982) – began writing his place in the Olympus of rock soloists. “I’m going to keep recording and composing on my own, it works better for me,” he said at the time, and “Don’t bombard Buenos Aires” has become an album paradigm with lunfardisms like “the kids in my neighborhood do. they are hidden in the pipes, they spy on the sky, they wear helmets, they tan their mambos. ”And it was a García who was no longer camouflaged in his capacity for metaphors but who directly indicated the realpolitik: “I’m afraid of the blond now, I don’t know who I’ll be afraid of later / Terror and distrust of games / For braids, for gray hair, for bellies, for cravings / For the rancid cradles of power, cradles of power , cradles of power “.

At the end of the year, when he presented the album live, at the Ferro stadium, García completed the bet with a show in which he effectively bombed Buenos Aires under a drill of Renata Schussheim in the staging. And he turned the city upside down.

Charly García and Cachorro López arrive at Ferro for the historic presentation of Going from the bed to the living room
Charly García and Cachorro López arrive at Ferro for the historic presentation of Going from the bed to the living roomAndy Cherniavsky

In the book Don’t bomb the Barrio Norte (Editorial Vademecum), Martín Zariello analyzes the song on another cultural milestone of that infamous 1982: the piciciegosFogwill’s novel. Zariello writes: “Los pichiciegos was written, according to the author himself, while the war was being made ‘with twelve grams of cocaine in two and a half days’. Any resemblance to Say No More is purely coincidental. They are not the same views (suppose Fogwill was never a rock star and Garcia was never a sociologist), but the piciciegos And Don’t bomb Buenos Aires they can be understood as complementary perspectives of the same moment, realized in real time and perhaps stimulated by the same substances “.

Similarly, the journalist Daniel Riera -author together with Fernando Sánchez of García, 15 years of interviews with Charly, 1992-2007 (Vademecum) -: “The song reflects a daily feeling of what was happening in the country. I was in the seventh grade and I remember that the exercises were held. Later it was learned that the invasion of Buenos Aires had not been excluded by the British secret services, which is why it was not simply Charly’s delusional fantasy. “

Armed with an arsenal of cutting-edge instruments – from the new Roland TR-808 electronic drum kit to the Yamaha PS 55 keyboard -, Charly was culturally closer to British punks – “listening to Clash, oh, listening to Clash” – who to the patriotic act of military madness, heavily supported by society; a Charly sheltered in his privacy from a hostile and emaciated world.

“Don’t bomb Buenos Aires” is a composition made hot. «It is an extraordinary song for two reasons: the immediacy of the recording, conceived in the last days of the war and recorded shortly after. And the other is Charly’s point of view on the conflict. He had attended the Latin American Solidarity Festival, in the middle of the conflagration, and was left with a bad taste in his mouth. Then he attacks with sarcasm and irony, under a distant lucidity he constructs a masterful portrait of the 80s by questioning the political and economic establishment “, explains Sergio Pujol, author of one of the chapters of the recent book Listen to Falkland. Music and sounds of war (Edizioni Musicali Gourmet), compiled by Esteban Buch and Abel Gilbert.

Another award for Charly: it was the first song in the world about the war of the Malvinas. A dystopia between fear and hypocrisy: Malvinas as a limit experience. Unlike millions of Argentines kidnapped by an exalted nationalist sentiment, at that moment Charly was experiencing, however, a mixture of amazement and disgust. “I locked myself in a studio for a month and learned about the war when I went to the bar next door. One day I remember a “press release” passed and everyone in the bar fell silent. he reminded me The snake’s egg, by Bergmann. An extreme situation that does not happen and at the same time happens… ”, he said, remembering that epic.

«Strictly speaking – wrote Sergio Pujol – almost all the songs of Move from the bed to the living room they were marked by that feeling that something borderline ‘happens and at the same time doesn’t happen’ “. A feeling of unreality fueled by the news of a remote war and its own at the same time. War operations took place far away in the freezing south of Argentina as the country learned of the events on television and radio. “But after the impression of a collective and hegemonic euphoria, there were not a few Argentines who shared Charly’s silent amazement,” says Pujol.

For Esteban Buch and Camila Juárez, “Don’t bombard Buenos Aires” is the music that best evokes the Falklands war, and also, perhaps, together with the roaring voice of General Galtieri announcing the “recovery” of the islands in Plaza de Mayo on April 2, 1982, “the main sound mark of that historical moment in the collective memory of the Argentines”. In a way, León Gieco’s “I Ask Only to God” – originally written in the context of the conflict with Chile on the Beagle Channel but redefined in 1982 – was the song of Charly’s older sister. Sergio Pujol compares: “If Gieco raised the flag of folk pacifism, Charly preferred to express himself as a paranoid punk, even if his musical language was not exactly such”.

In “Don’t bombard Buenos Aires”, and after a piano riff of jazz origin, Charly’s voice appears remote, as if it came from another room, saying: “Press release number 234, we are winning, we are still winning … “. The triumph lie, printed on the cover of a copy of Gente magazine, was quoted at the beginning of the passage, as a warning that everything that came next would be spelled out with utter disbelief. As for the conception of “Don’t bombard Buenos Aires”, with its effects of sirens, anonymous voices, sardonic laughter and whispered phrases with unclear diction, reveals a network of winks and misunderstandings enriched by the use of the sound echo of the delay and from the combination of different layers of sound, anchored in the atmosphere of rock. “The whole song sounds like an agitated cry for help from a sleepwalker. Charly was reinventing his voice from the phantasmagoria of a bombed city,” Pujol points out in his analysis.

Although censorship had been eased with the defeat of the army in its inevitable fall from power, the risk was still palpable. “There are many things that could not be said”, Charly admitted to Claudio Kleiman in a famous interview with Exposo Imaginario. Forty years later, listening to “Do not bomb Buenos Aires” continues to give you goosebumps. Discovered by the new generations, it expresses itself as cultural criticism and political criticism: a cutting lyric that reveals the brief and at the same time eternal power of singing. An experience of the tangible of a critic of customs and institutions. But if, as Jorge Monteleone wrote, “Charly’s voice is an echo chamber of public imbecility that dramatizes the banal crude”, it does not cease to represent, ecumenically, the skill of that “solitary poetic subject, permanently in conflict with himself and with the world ”, as he had been promoted in the corpus of songs of the capital Move from the bed to the living room.

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