JUAN GABRIEL Never Left Me: A Mix & Reflections by Yvonne Cruz

Being a known Juan Gabriel fanatic, on the day of his death, I was asked to reflect on the passing of Juan Gabriel for Mujeres En Medio. I knew I wanted to do it but I also knew I wanted to take my time. 1) Because the passing of such an important figure in mine and many other people’s lives deserved careful reflection and 2) I wasn’t sure what the heck I was feeling.

Juan Gabriel is one of Mexico’s most prolific composers and one of it’s most popular musical stars. He is also my favorite musician. When I first learned of his passing, I didn’t react how I had thought I would, because, yes, I had thought about it. The recent passing of several musical icons got me wondering how I would react when my beloved Juanga left this world.

Crying. Lots of crying. That’s what I figured would happen. I’m a super emotional cancer and tears tend to flow easily for me.

But I didn’t cry. Instead of the dramatic outward display of emotions I had expected, I found that I didn’t know what to do with myself. My brain felt foggy. I spent my evening lying on the floor listening to Juan Gabriel’s music. It was the only thing that felt right.

In the days that followed, I continued to wait for the ugly crying. At first I told myself that I was probably in shock. It hadn’t fully hit me yet.

More than a month has passed since Juan Gabriel’s death and the tears never did come. Why? I’ve spent time pondering that question.

Juanga is a larger than life figure not because of his huge personality, but because of what he represents for so many people. For many he is height of Mexican talent, a humble artist born of nothing turned megastar but nonetheless of the people.

Juanga is a larger than life figure not because of his huge personality, but because of what he represents for so many people. For many he is height of Mexican talent, a humble artist born of nothing turned megastar but nonetheless of the people. For some he’s soundtrack to their childhood. For me Juan Gabriel is all of that and then some.

Juan Gabriel is childhood road trips to Mexico, Mom’s worn out cassette tape of a dozen of his hits playing through out the ride. Juan Gabriel is the friend I cried with the time I had my little heart broken. Juan Gabriel’s poetic mastery of emotions is what helped inspire me to start writing my own songs as a young teen.

I was a lonely, awkward, and not a particular happy teenager. I found refuge from daily existence in writing and music. He was someone who understood me when I felt lonely. His music brought me joy during times when few things did. His music was so dramatic and emotional; yet, so eloquent. He was a musical wizard. He could do any genre and do it better than most.

I have always felt a personal connection to Juan Gabriel. On many occasions I joked that we were “twin soul.” Sometimes, being such a theatrical and emotional person can feel like a curse. “WHY DO I FEEL SO INTESELY?” Is a question I have often asked myself. To me Juanga embodied someone who was authentically and DRAMATICALLY themselves. I believe he too felt intensely. How else could he create such passionate music? As a writer and an artist, I use his example to try to channel all my raw sensitivity into something beautiful, but more importantly into something that will hopefully resonate with another human being.

Juan Gabriel Mural, East Hollywood, 2016. Photo by Arlene Mejorado

This piece is as much about me as it is about Juan Gabriel. But isn’t that what great poets and artists accomplish? They give birth to something from their own experience that somehow becomes so personal to so many people.

I guess you can’t mourn something that never leaves you.

I’ve never viewed death as an ending and I never viewed Juan Gabriel as just an entertainer. I believe those views are the reason I was never did cry from grief after his death. Arguably, no other musician has figured more prominently in my life. His music is entrenched in the fabric of my life experiences and I suspect that will continue to be the case for all the years I have left to live. I guess you can’t mourn something that never leaves you.

Remember how I said Juan Gabriel could do any genre. Yeah, well it’s true. I created a playlist with just a FEW of my favorite Juanga tunes along with a track list with some short personal commentary. Share your favorite tracks and Juanga stories in the comments below!

  1. Buenos Dias Señor Sol– I love the positive vibes of this tune. On the days I wake up feeling like I just don’t want to do life, I put this song for an energy shift.
  2. He Venido a Pedirte Perdon- This song was used in one of Juan Gabriel’s movies (yes, he did movies too!) I love this song and I love that clip. Youtube it! Side Note: He also stared in a movie in which he studies urban planning at UCLA. You know who else studied urban planning at UCLA? ME! How many other super Juanga fans can say that? Take that Mom! HA!
  3. Que Sea Mi Codena- You’ll notice that many of the songs on this playlist are his mariachi tunes. Mariachi/Ranchera Juan Gabriel is my favorite Juan Gabriel. Lots of mariachi music can sound repetitive but not Juanga’s stuff! Every song has it’s own distinct and interesting melody. AH! SO GOOD.
  4. Caray- One of the first Juan Gabriel songs I remember hearing. A classic. This is one of the songs that was on that cassette my mom played during our family’s 20 plus hour drives to Mexico. Our trips to visit my family in Mexico are some of my favorite childhood memories and this song takes me back! When I saw him play it live in concert last year I was filled with nothing but joy.
  5. Nada, Nada, Nada- Included this jam just to show that Juanga could even do disco. The man was a treasure.
  6. Ases Y Tecia De Reyes- Possibly my favorite ranchera song by Juan Gabriel. Such a masterful use of the accordion on this jawn.
  7. Nunca Lo Sabre, Nunca Lo Sabras- How many times did I cry to this song? Let’s just say the lyrics spoke to me at a certain point in my life. See note for #9.
  8. Cuando Decidas Volver- Another ranchera jam.
  9. Ya No Insistas Corazon- A couple years ago, when I experienced my first and only REAL heartbreak. I made a playlist to cope, a playlist that consisted exclusively of Juan Gabriel songs. For months it was basically the only thing I listened to. This is one the songs from that playlist.
  10. Con un Poco de Amar- See note for previous song. This song GOT TO ME. Even listening to it today let’s me step back into how I was feeling after I got dumped. Feel all the feels!
  11. Cada Quien Su Camino- Another musical side of Juanga! This jawn is groovy! Gives me a slight tango vibe.
  12. Tus Ojos Mexicanos Lindos- Juan Gabriel isn’t just about heartbreak! Listen to this one while you’re thinking about your favorite brown-eyed cutie. That’s what I do.
  13. A Mi Guitarra- This is a love song about Juan Gabriel’s guitar. The song says the guitar took away his loneliness and sadness. Turns out it took mine too.

– Yvonne Cruz

twitter & instagram: @TejanaMaluca

 

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