For our final episode as a podcast, each member of our production team recorded a short monologue about a song that expresses something about their experiences working on Si Yo Fuera una Canción over the last year and a half. Lots of music, a little bit of reflection, and best wishes for all our futures!
Music: “See These Bones,”“Latinoamérica,” “Encuentro en Cajamarca,” “Stay Human,” “What You Waiting For,” “Carnaval,” “Learn How to Fall,” “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and “Todo Cae”
Greetings and welcome to “Si yo fuera una canción” -- “If I Were a Song.” We are a community-based podcast and radio show, in which people of Santa Ana, California, tell us in their own words about the music that means the most to them. And this is our very final episode!
Accordingly, today’s show is going to be a little different from our usual format. Instead of listening to the people of a particular urban community, we’re going to hear from the people of our production team. Over the last eighteen months, we’ve become a little community in our own right. For me, being part of that intensely human process has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of this whole project. So, I’ve asked the members of our production team to each come up with a song that expresses something about their experience over the last year and a half, working on this podcast right smack in the middle of a global pandemic. Because we’re a team of nine people, there’s going to be plenty of music!
I’ll offer some parting thoughts at the end of today’s show, but for now, let’s get to the good stuff, starting with Alex Dolven, our Project Advisor.irst episode dropped in March:
Alex has advised me and all of us on every aspect of the project, and all the best things about SYF are testimonies to his good judgment and good humor.
I’m Alex Dolven, and I am the project advisor (and sometimes web designer) for Si Yo Fuera Una Cancion.
The snippet you just heard is from a song called “See These Bones” by Nada Surf. It is truly one of my favorite songs of all time, and listening to it in the context of reflecting on this project has given it another gratifying layer of meaning.
To me the song begins by acknowledging a difficult path, mistakes made, risks taken and lessons learned. Like in this verse:
“Try as they might, no one’s immune to, misfiring and acting on the wrong clues”
Being the perfectionist I am, there was a hard lesson in this project for me, that as much as I planned and outlined our processes, there would always be another exception or unexpected bump around the corner. Eventually I came to enjoy that process of embracing Murphy’s Law as we might say on the team, whether our challenges were technical or interpersonal, importantly I knew I wouldn’t have to right this ship alone. This incredible team brought such a breadth of experience and backgrounds to the project that we have never looked far for great ideas and solutions.
“See These Bones” is an optimistic song at heart even though it is tinged with the bittersweet feeling of endings and passing the torch. As it goes on, the song builds and reframes the idea of aging as an opportunity for inspiration rather than for mourning. While I know I will find grief in the conclusion of the Si Yo Fuera podcast journey, I recognize that within our work here lies the foundation for something new, and I am eagerly awaiting what that cultivates for each of us.
The chorus of the song goes:
“look alive, see these bones, what you are now, we were once”.
And then comes my favorite line, “Just like we are, you’ll be dust, and just like we are, permanent”.
That is my call to those who might carry on this torch - listen to each other, share stories and leave a trail that inspires others to venture on further still.
MUSIC CLIP: Nada Surf, “See these Bones”
David Castañeda was a graduate student in Ethnomusicology at UCLA – my university -- when he joined our team as Research Assistant. Since then, he has finished his dissertation and graduated, and he is now Dr. Castañeda.
David has been not only a first-rate researcher, but my co-host, co-thinker, and collaborator on many occasions.
This project for me has been extremely rewarding, if not only because of the friendships that I’ve made here on the team, but also for the amazing stories that I’ve been able to have a part in sharing with everyone who listens to the podcast.
The opportunity to focus on the lives of people from the Santa Ana community and give their lived experiences an international platform, presented with respect, admiration, and reverence is a departure away from the type of media we all are used to seeing. In an era where just about everything we see is photoshopped, touched up, highlighted, heavily curated, and spun, being able to see people as they are has been refreshing and inspiring. Following our leader Elisabeth’s intention and example of sharing people’s stories as they are has given us all the opportunity to celebrate the intrinsic meaning that can be found in lives of those who might just a few doors down from us, in the person standing infront of us waiting to order a coffee, or in who we might bump into walking down the street.
The song that comes to mind is “Latino América” by Calle 13. What I love about this song is that it tells the story of Latin America in both Spanish and Portuguese. Like Si Yo Fuera Una Cancion, it works to build connections across divides that are often taken for granted–such as language–instead focusing on the things that connect us all. These connections are more powerful, meaningful, and long lasting than the divisions that might exist. It’s through these connections that we can create the global community that has space for us all.
MUSIC CLIP: Calle 13, “LatinoAmérica”
I want to thank Elisabeth, the Si Yo Fuera Una Cancion Team, and all of our listeners for having me as a part of this very special project.
Deyaneira García came to SYF through recommendations by mutual friends and community acquaintances in Santa Ana, and they have brought a little bit of the wonderful revolutionary spirit of the youth in this town, right onto our production team.
Dey’s role, like Alex’s, has been like a skeleton in a body—invisible, inaudible -- but it holds up everything all the time.
Hello my name is Deyaneira Garcia-Sanchez and I am the project manager for Si Yo Fuera Una Cancion and the song I chose to represent my time in this project is “Taki Ongoy II” or “encuentro en Cajamarca” covered by Abel Pintos.
Part of the chorus of this song expresses, “the last thing we need is for them to ban our tears and with it our hearts.”
MUSIC CLIP: Abel Pintos, “Taki Ongoy II”
This line specifically reminded me of the numerous interviews I listened to while being part of the production of this project. So many wonderful people shared intimate parts of their life experience and struggle and the joys that music brought them.
At times conversations with our interviewees would hit on major systemic issues people from Santa Ana face as they try to navigate a world outside of their community. Other times tears were shed while listening to people talk about their passions and the way music intersected with them, a sense of nostalgia and hope would grow inside of me just like when I listened to this song.
The truth is, the world can be cold and harsh and the systems in place do not make it easy for us to survive but they cannot ban our tears nor our stories, and as long as we share our experiences with one another, a revolution is set into motion.
Jen Orenstein is one of the “Canada wings” of SYF. We’ve known each other for a long time through family connections, but this was our first time working together.
It’s been a fun challenge to share a mutual fascination with the endless complexities of translation, while maintaining an exigent production schedule.
Hi everyone, my name is Jen Orenstein, and I’ve had the pleasure of translating all the interview transcripts for Si Yo Fuera Una Canción for a little over a year now. I’ve also had a lot of fun with the task of translating many of the songs featured in the episodes of the show. My first language is English, so translating into Spanish for certain episodes was a bit daunting at first, whereas translating into English comes a bit more easily to me. I’ve really enjoyed that challenge over the year and I hope I’ve been able to produce translations that have been able to benefit our Spanish speaking listeners as much as our English speaking ones.
I’ve always thought about how it would be really hard for me to think up a song for myself if ever I were to be asked the questions asked on the show, and how here we are, everyone on the team has been given the chance to pick a song to represent out experience with podcast. I have been thinking for over a week, and not coming up with anything. Truth be told, I don’t listen to music often enough. Working with words all day long keeps me from listening to anything with lyrics that would distract me. I do like instrumental music, but more often than not, i just don’t put anything on.ong I choose is Spearhead’s:
MUSIC CLIP: Spearhead, “Stay Human”
I listened to this album a lot in high school, a time when I felt very moved to be more active in the community as i learned more and more about the corruption and problems in society and in the world. This podcast has given me some of those same feelings again and inspired me to seek to contribute more to the world and my community.
I am so grateful to Elisabeth for the opportunity to be a part of this show, and to the whole team- it has been especially nice to have the chance to meet new people--if only virtually--during the loneliest parts of the pandemic.
Thank you all for listening and participating.
Laura Díaz came to us directly out of her studies at Santa Ana Community College. Everything that you see on our website and social media, all the bright, beautiful images and decorations and layout, are her work. I can’t even conceive of SYF without seeing her graphics in my mind’s eye.
My name is Laura Diaz, and I’m the Social Media Coordinator and Graphic Designer for our podcast. The song I’m choosing to represent my time at Si Yo Fuera is “What You Waiting For?” by Gwen Stefani.
I feel as if I’ve completed a full circle. I went from singing this song at the top of my lungs as a child to truly empathizing with Gwen on the meaning behind the lyrics.
MUSIC CLIP: Gwen Stefani, “What you waiting for
Gwen wrote this song to break through a period of writer’s block and for the most of it, I think Gwen is talking directly to herself. She is asking herself, what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you out there making music? Why are you letting all of these doubts hold you back?
I felt much the same when I first applied to this position, and I find myself still harboring thoughts like that. I’m no pop star, but I am someone trying to break into the digital marketing industry. This song represents not only the urgency of trying to be successful, but also feels like a whack in the head for not realizing the talents and skills I already possess.
The lyrics could also be taken very literally, since I often have to remind myself that I have overdue tasks and content I need to publish. What you waiting for, Laura? Why aren’t those posts up yet? Where’s the feedback you promised?
All in all, I think the best part that represents my time at Si Yo Fuera is the beginning of the song.
“What an amazing time
What a family
How did the years go by?
Now it’s only me.”
I am sad that the podcast is coming to an end, but at the same time, I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow and I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished.
Marcy De La Torre is the very first team member I hired for this project! She came to us, as she mentions, through Santa Ana and Cypress Community colleges here in Inland Orange County.
Marcy is an extraordinary brainstormer. She had a lot to do with the early stages of conception and organization before we ever went on the air. She’s also held down the audio editing for the Spanish versions of every episode.
MUSIC CLIP: Maluma, “Carnaval”I began working in October of:
For many of us on the team, this is our first time working for a project with so many moving parts. I had to work on my communication as a team player to circumvent the domino effect of my actions while balancing my individual responsibility as a student, all while adjusting my lifestyle to accommodate my professional output.
On a more personal note, I'd like to share how listening to the interviewees stories impacted me as a closeted songwriter. I didn't grow up in a musical family. And at the start of the project I had only been songwriting for three years out of the 24 I'd been alive. You can only imagine the kind of backlash I was getting when my parents would ask me what I was trying to do for a living as a first generation student. The key of what a project helped me not only to see that I could develop in-demand skills like editing, but ask myself bigger questions that no one else around me was asking. Sometimes in becoming what we've always wanted, we move away from where we come from and forget that these stories will forever be a part of us.
Because no one really seems to care. Because no one really seems to ask. As an audio editor, I listened to every podcast and read every script, so I get to tune in and listen to why individuals of my community resonated to the songs they selected. How music is not only appreciated, but is intertwined with their own life stories and how they've utilized music to empower themselves. This helped me to face one of the biggest challenges every songwriter and maybe even human being faces. And that's valuing myself and what I can make of myself. Easily stuck in wanting fast results, wanting to finish a song tomorrow. This project has instilled in me some much needed patience, recognizing that the lifespan of a song is just like that of a human being. It can echo through the years opening conversations for those willing to hear one another. It not only connects us within ourselves, but to each other. It's something I don't think I would have ever been able to understand if I hadn't been a part of this project. I could even fathom at the start of working on this podcast. Learning about my culture wasn't always in the cards, and I didn't grow up around a big family. I was always stuck in that rat race of finishing school to get a job, but feeling so unfulfilled because nothing was ever fun. I always felt a bit embarrassed for being uncultured, something that I don't think people really experience when they have other family to create their culture with. My parents are always working and extended cousins living too far out of state.
I never found the need to learn how to speak Spanish until I traveled to Mexico and learned how to speak it. Watching novelas. Too young to notice how a lack of diversity would impact me. I felt lonely and I didn't know why. I never really felt like I could truly relate to my own culture, and I had no idea what this meant until now. Media plays a major role in my ability to assimilate and connect with my heritage and my own story. From highlighting the essence of someone else's story in this podcast to allowing the stories of the people I interact with impact my songwriting. I think this is why media is so important to discuss and challenge. It has the ability to open your awareness to different cultures. How our views change as more of us emigrate from one society to another and find our way. It's a wholesome feeling. I get to imagine projects that involve modern narratives of my bilingual community. Everyone on this team is a mere fragment of the bigger mosaic that paints our community. Bring me back to the core of this final episode.
My song is Carnaval by Maluma. It reminds me that at the center of every initiative is the collective human spirit that drives it forward through the ups and downs.
As some of the lyrics say. Life is one carnival.
The bad will go away.
Everything will go away.
Everything will pass.
You don't have to suffer.
You don't have to cry.
If you need to be loved, I'll love you my way. Forget the fears and hug me.
I will be your guardian angel, your best company.
Wesley McClintock is the other Canadian “wing” of our project, and he’s been a patient and reliable pillar throughout our sometimes very complex (not to say gnarly) audio editing process in English.
He’s also used his skills as a voice actor in English to re-enact our interviews originally recorded in Spanish with male-identified people.
MUSIC CLIP: Paul Simon, “Learn How to Fall”
Hello, my name is Wes McClintock and I am one of the sound engineers on Si Yo Fuera Una Cancion.
The song I chose to represent my experience working on this podcast is Learn How to Fall by Paul Simon. The reason I chose this song is because editing sound and piecing
together full episodes on this podcast was a very new experience for me. I have edited audio for music but editing podcasts....this was a first.
Everyone on the team took on roles in uncharted territory so we all had to make mistakes and learn from them to better streamline this process.
Week after week we learned from our work and also our many team meetings. We eventually got the process down, further understanding our roles and mistakes were made less and less. We had to learn how to fall before we learned how to fly.
Zoë Broussard came to the SYF team “sideways,” recommended by Deyaneira. They’ve been key to imagining, planning, and executing our presentation and distribution of our project before the public. We’ve all learned so much from their marketing savvy.
If you found SYF through any medium other than me telling you directly, it’s because of Zoë’s work!
I’m Zoë Broussard , and you may recognize my voice because I've been featured on a few episodes of this podcast! I'm the Marketing & Communications Director for the project.
The song I’m choosing to express what “Si yo fuera una canción” has meant to me is “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevland Hardaway Morris, an iconic man more commonly known as Stevie Wonder.
In the song, Stevie Wonder is giving the girl a sense of comfort. For context, they both live in a time where society has many issues and uncertainties. I joined Si Yo Fuera during the height of the pandemic (an obvious time of panic, anxiety, and societal uncertainty). What I hear in this song is a voice of reassurance not to let your anxiety spiral out of control. Anxiety has its way of nagging at you with this constant worry that things may not work out, that things are going to fall apart, or that things are off track with life in general, and the pandemic did not ease those feelings.
MUSIC CLIP: Stevie Wonder, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”
This song is a reminder to breathe and take a look at the beauty around us, much like the experience of listening to the podcast.
Si Yo Fuera gave me the space to combine both my passion for music with the media psychology topics I was learning through digital communications online and beyond. The reassurance you feel while listening to this song is similar to the reassurance I felt being a part of this team.
Music exists as a portal into the mind and one’s life experiences, every note, tone, beat and rhythm has a purpose in a story. And music often can speak more effectively than words alone. This song is playful, upbeat, motivating, and inspiring.
In these lyrics I hear Stevie Wonder saying that it's great to try new things, but to not lose sight of who you are. You are the only one who gets to see your entire growth process through your personal phases of life. Although this project is coming to a close, I must say it has allowed me to broaden my horizons and my perspective on media production and how to communicate a concept en mass. It has been a pleasure learning from everyone on the team and especially Elisabeth Le Guin.
Even though this project is coming to an end, “don't you worry ‘bout a thaaaaaaaaaaaang…”
The song I’m choosing to express what “Si yo fuera una canción” has meant to me is this one, “Todo cae,” that is, “Everything falls,” by the Uruguayan singer-songwriter, Jorge Drexler. It’s a poem about the forces of gravity and entropy, and so metaphorically about things ending, but it’s not a bummer – right away, from the goofy waltz-style intro, you can hear that this is a light-hearted take on the fact that everything, sooner or later, comes apart, comes to earth. The Earth, after all, is where we come from.
Drexler brings in a bunch of wind instruments to play an old-fashioned oompah-pah accompaniment, ever so slightly out of synch and out of tune, so the sounds of the song give the feeling that the “todo que cae” is just a circus in the end: gaily colored, whirling around, and eventually gently coming to rest.
And the poem, like all Drexler’s lyrics, is just beautful. He acknowledges that in spite of gravity and entropy, things do lift off, they fly, they float:
Everything falls and yet
While even these notes
on some score
And to the beat of that brief sound a planet
And a plant breathes, and the warm air
and the vapor of a cloud distils a drop
that trembles for a moment, reluctant,
and falls to the earth
sooner or later…
MUSIC CLIP: Jorge Drexler, “Todo cae”
That’s a pretty good description of my experience of our project. We’ve flown beautifully, it’s been colorful and sweet and profound, and yes, at times slightly goofy, and now we’re coming to rest, as all things must.
Yes I’m sad that our podcast is ending, but not too sad. My pride in what we’ve done, and most especially in how our little team has learned to communicate and work together in a complex and socially responsive endeavor, is anything but melancholy. Like Drexler says, pretty soon we’ll each be moving on, whirling colorfully toward the next updraft, where, to paraphrase him, “[El amor] vence a la gravedad y a la entropía,” – “love will vanquish gravity and entropy.”
And so, in that spirit of love that enables us to pick up and keep going, keep exploring, and, when necessary, keep fighting, I’m not going to consider this final episode an ending. We, as a team, will remain friends, of course. Some of us are going to work on archiving our materials and maybe creating a book that features them. Others are interested in transforming the podcast into a live radio show.
If you’re a listener and you’re interested in knowing about where we go next – or if you only just discovered us, and want to check out the 25 episodes that preceded this one – we’ll be keeping our website live for the foreseeable future. You can access all our episodes there, at www.siyofuera.org , and that is also where we’ll notify you of any new developments as they happen. You’re also welcome to contact us through that Website.
I conceived this project out of a conviction that people in this frighteningly divided country, that still calls itself the United States of America, needed to listen more to one other.
Well, big surprise, we still do. If anything, we’re more divided than when SYF began. So I’ll wrap up here, for now, with an exhortation: let’s take the time, make the effort, to listen toyour neighbors and to people we don’t know. If they say things we don’t understand,let’s listen harder.
And when we’re done talking, let’s share a song or two—sharing music might just make that magic connection that talking can’t always manage.
Cynthia Marcel De La Torre and Wesley McClintock have been our sound engineers; Zoë Broussard and Laura Díaz have held down the marketing and the beautiful images that adorn it; David Castañeda has been Music Researcher; Jen Orenstein translated interviews and song texts to and from Spanish; Deyaneira García and Alex Dolven made production possible. We’ve been a not-for-profit venture, chiefly funded by the John Paul Simon Guggenheim Foundation, to which I offer my deepest thanks; we’ve also received some support from UCLA’s Faculty Grants Program, and the Herb Alpert School of Music at the same University.
For now, and until the next adventure—keep listening to one another!
I’m Elisabeth Le Guin, and this has been, “Si yo fuera una canción -- If I were a song…”