New Internationalist

Manifesto

April 1999
311reviews6small.gif [Related Image]

Victor Jara was not, unlike thousands of other Chileans, one of General Pinochet’s ‘disappeared’. Indeed, Jara’s body — once the dictator’s secret police had finished with him — actually turned up, dumped outside Santiago’s Metropolitan Cemetery. He had been killed a few days after the assassination of President Allende by the Pinochet-led junta; Jara’s ‘crime’ had been one of visibility.

The son of peasants from southern Chile, Jara was a multi-talented man who had worked in theatre before fully turning his attentions to songwriting. Taking as his theme an earthy socialism, his career strove to put music at the heart of political change. ‘My guitar is a worker/Singing and smelling of spring,’ he sings in ‘Manifiesto’, written and recorded in 1973, the year of his death. ‘It is not for killers.’

Compiled from several recording sessions held between 1968 and 1973, Manifiesto is a re-release of an album originally brought out in 1974. Its timing could not have been more felicitous: released to coincide with a concert to raise funds for the Jara Foundation in Chile, the record hit the racks just weeks before Pinochet himself was arrested in Britain.

Jara’s songs have aged well. With minimal ornamentation (some percussion here, some panpipes there), his voice conceals in its light tenor a conviction and humanity that is undiminished through time or language. While his songs are very much of their time and place, they are unlike much politically orientated music in their vivacity and emotion. Jara may place an overt faith and optimism in the people, but there is nothing formulaic or hectoring here. Rather, there is an intimacy that characterizes songs for both individuals and crowd. Their potency can be summed up in the fact that, until recently, it was forbidden to mention Jara’s name in Chile. That’s some legacy.

Louise Gray

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 311 This column was published in the April 1999 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Manifesto

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Manifesto Fact File
Product information by Victor Jara
Star rating4
Publisher Castle Music
Product number ESMCD 6657 CD

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Music

All Music

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 311

New Internationalist Magazine issue 311
Issue 311

More articles from this issue

  • Chopstick controversy

    April 1, 1999

    China is the biggest consumer, producer and exporter of chopsticks. It fells 25 million trees a year to make 45 billion pairs. Two-thirds are used in China and few are recycled.

  • Language lessons

    April 1, 1999

    English-only policies are under fire in the US.

  • The facts on War and Peace

    April 1, 1999

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe