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Spanish Music: Joaquín Sabina

Spanish singer Joaquín Sabina is a songwriter and poet born in Úbeda, Jaén, on 12th February 1949. He has released numerous live and studio albums, including “Vinagre y Rosas” in 2009. Sabina suffered a stroke in 2001 and although he physically recovered, he entered a deep depression which resulted in a four-year-long concert hiatus. He recovered and released his eighteenth album, “Alivio de Luto”, in November 2005. He started writing his first poems and composing music at 14 years old and was part of a rock n roll band called “Merry Youngs”. Later he began reading works by Fray Luis de León, Jorge Manrique, José Hierro, Marcel Proust, James Joyce and Herbert Marcuse. After completing high school, his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a police officer but Sabina refused, saying that he preferred the guitar.

Joaquín Sabina then enrolled in the University of Philosophy and Philology of Granada, reading Philology. There, he read the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Cesar Vallejo. His ideology led him to be related with anti-fascist groups. In 1970, he began collaborating with the magazine “Poesía 70”, sharing pages with Carlos Cano and Luis Eduardo Aute. He left the university to move London away from Franco’s dictatorship and there he started writing songs and singing in bars. When Franco’s dictatorship ended in 1975, Sabina returned to Spain and joined the army. Sabina’s first album, “Inventario” was released in 1978 and went largely unnoticed. Afterwards, he moved to CBS (Sony) and released “Malas Companies”. This album gave Sabina his first number-one hit single “Pongamos que hablo de Madrid” and the artist attained wide recognition. He released his third album “Ruleta Rusa” in 1983 and two years later, “Juez Y Parte”.

In 1987 Joaquín Sabina released the album that really made him famous in Spain, “Hotel, Dulce Hotel”, which sold a huge number of records. That success continued with his next album “El hombre Del Traje Gris” and a successful tour of South America. This was followed by the released “Mentiras Piadosas” in 1990 and two years later “Física Y Química” which led to another successful tour of the Americas. His later albums “Esta Boca Es Mía”, “Yo, Mi, Me Contigo” and “19 Días Y 500 Noches” won him more recognition and multiple platinum albums. After recovering from his stroke, he returned to the stage in 2002 with “Dímelo En La Calle”, a very strong collection of songs that clearly showed Sabina was back in business and fully revitalised. In 2005 Joaquín Sabina released “Alivio De Luto” which was accompanied by a DVD that includes interviews, music videos, acoustic versions of the songs, and home-made recordings. In 2007, he went on tour with Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat and shared one another’s songs. They recorded a CD, DVD and Documentary of this “Dos Pájaros De Un Tiro tour”.

Joaquín Sabina has well and truly become a folk hero in Spain. He is one of the elite in super famous Spanish music stars, with a following that includes men and women of all ages. His trademark gravelly voice, nurtured through years of cigarettes and late nights, could be flippantly disregarded as harsh and punky, but give Sabina a chance and you will come to appreciate the strength and raw emotion that flows through every word and the wonderfully melodic tunes he crafts. He is in fact, without doubt, a wonderful Spanish singer with a far better voice than many people give him credit. I saw him live on the “Dos Pájaros De Un Tiro tour” and was blown away by the quality of his singing and his energy on stage. Sabina’s cheeky humour is contagious and his back catalogue so expansive that I have no idea how he chooses a set list. He is an artist that never lets you down; every album is a masterclass in guitar playing, poetry and harmony. He will especially appeal to those of you who enjoy male singer songwriters with grit, bite and an acoustic guitar such as Bob Dylan, Christy Moore, Billy Bragg and Leonard Cohen.

Watch some Sabina videos with lyrics:

Por el boulevar de los sueños rotos
19 días y 500 noches
Pongamos que hablo de Madrid
Calle Melancolía

Get the albums:



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