One of my favorite Celia Cruz songs is “Yo Viviré”. If you don’t know Celia, she was one of the most accomplished and beloved salsa singers of our time (and hearing her song “La Vida Es Un Carnival” in Costa Rica for the first time started my love affair with salsa dancing).
She released the song “Yo Viviré” shortly before her death in 2003. It sounds like a salsa version of the Gloria Gaynor disco hit “I Will Survive”. But if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you’ll hear that Celia isn’t saying “I will survive”; she’s saying “I will live on”.
En el alma de mi gente, en el cuero del tambor
En las manos del congero, en los piés del bailador
Yo viviré, allí estaré
In the soul of my people, in the leather of the drum,
In the hands of the conga player, in the feet of the dancer,
I will live on, I will be there.*
The entire song is a tribute to the eternal love, language and relationship between singer, musician and dancer. Every beat, every step, every note that we experience came from somewhere. And when we sing, play or dance, we embody it all – the people, the culture, the history, the emotions – and we create a new legacy.
It’s not a little thing. It’s a part of the human experience to enjoy, savor, to revel in. Take a few minutes to listen to the song and dance, sing or play wherever you are. Know that it’s not just you dancing, singing or playing – it’s all of us.
*My quick Spanish translation, may not be perfectly accurate, but it’s damn close.