Arts, Culture & Media

Chopping garlic to Paco de Lucía

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Credit: Marco Werman

Paco de Lucía performing in 2012 at the Paramount Theater in downtown Boston.

I came home from the show on Wednesday, put “Friday Night in San Francisco” on the hi-fi, and began chopping garlic madly for dinner to the rhythm of Paco de Lucía and Al Di Meola.  

Track one, “Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho,” Paco on the left channel, Di Meola on the right. 

In college we used to shout with the live crowd on the record when Paco would hit the summit of one of those magnificent flamenco runs up the fret board, not because we were mimicking the audience, but because Paco de Lucía’s playing was so invigorating and inspiring.  You couldn’t help yourself.

That album was one of my first portals into this realm we've come to call "world music."  It showed three virtuoso guitarists -- de Lucía, Di Meola and John McLaughlin -- having an exciting dialogue, a debate at times, with music as the language. 

"Music is a universal language" had real meaning with performances like these.

When Andrea Crossan, the producer of our appreciation of Paco de Lucía, listened back to my 2012 interview with him in the green room of the Paramount Theater in downtown Boston, she leaned over and said, “This sounds like an exit interview.” 

I heard what she was talking about. “I would like to have another life,” he had said, “because I would like to learn harmonies and music.” 

It was a poignant moment when de Lucía told me he regretted not being able to read music, and if he were 20-years-old again, he’d come to a music school like Berklee in Boston, and learn music properly.

It’s too easy now to read in important things when there aren’t any. 

Mostly, what I’ll remember from that meeting with Paco de Lucía is this detail: As he spoke to me, his guitar was on his lap, and almost unconsciously, he kept his fingers warmed up for the concert two hours later, going taka-ta across the neck of his instrument.  Taka-ta.  Taka-ta.

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