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The Song That Changed Your Life

Yolanda by Christopher Levan

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube.

Yolanda?  Is that you? 

Sing for me one more time?

True, you don’t exist.  But I’m willing to overlook that little detail, if you’ll refrain from making fun of my receding hair-line. 

So good to hear you again! You know neither of us is young any longer. I’m touching sixty and you’re not far behind me. But we’re a pair! Okay, you’re a love song and I’m a hopeless romantic. But from where I sit that makes us a perfect match.  You live as poetry.  I am an ever-willing pair of ears. 

Do you recall when we first met? It was back in ‘92. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in old Havana and you were the third song of the second set of a street performer. Remember how he had that outrageous mustache that twitched every time he took a deep breath. Sure, he mangled some of your verses, but I fell for you anyway. So sweet, so sensual and so impossibly tangible.   Never has a melody spoken so quickly and eternally to my soul.  

Yolanda, you’re my dream. What a memorable opening line you’ve got:  “Esto no puede ser no mas que un cancion.”  (“This can’t be just a song”)  Never was a truer verse written.  Your lyrics say it all:  “It is the touch of your hand that calms me.” “You strip away all my pretences with a single word.”  And your ending? It’s so intoxicatingly Latin: “If I must die, may it be at your side. ... for all eternity!”  I have been a singer all my life, but no song captures my heart, my dreams the way you do!    

I’m not crazy! I realize that you’re a song, the creation of Pablo Milanes.  You don’t exist, not in the traditional sense. But for me, you are so real: a symbol of all that Cuba can be. I fell for you and the country that holds you dear.  I’ve come back countless times to what is now my second home where I have a new family and growing circle of friends. In Canada, we have winter. In Cuba there is “Yolanda.”   

You’re now famous, a standard in the repertoire of every Cuban quartet. To most tourists you’re nothing more than a musical interlude between sips of rum. So I won’t tell them if you don’t. We’re two lovers wrapped up “eternamente!”

Christopher Levan is from Toronto, ON.



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set count down final date: 11/01/2014
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