Letters of Life

The Mambo Kings

Please press the ‘play’ button now.

Thank you.

Right. So, this movie jumpstarted Antonio Banderas’ film career in the U.S. Locally, the film had a very short run here, if anyone even remembers it. It is a bittersweet love story, what else, and a tragic story about two musician brothers who leave Cuba in the ’50s and try to make it in New York. I can’t help it, I happen to like stuff like that.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine wrote that the film “runs on pure emotion”, and that it “celebrates the mysterious power of a music that can make you feel like dancing and bring you to your knees.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars of four, writing the film’s “story is as old as the movies, but The Mambo Kings is so filled with energy, passion and heedless vitality that it seems new, anyway.”

But the soundtrack, and the title song, Beautiful Maria of My Soul, is pure pleasure to listen to. It’s got that Latin retro feel, with the trumpets, and the emotional resonance in Banderas’ vocals that make it almost sublime. It makes me think of beach sunsets, of candles on a patio, of good conversation, of remembrances of things past.

The reason it’s mentioned here? It’s a reference thing, and has to do with something I wrote a long time ago. I won’t post it here, it’s way too long a story. But if you like, I can always send the electronic version over to you.

So, do listen and enjoy. There’s a lovely trumpet solo in the middle. There isn’t much need to translate the lyrics, because the beauty gets lost in the translation.

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