Artwork for podcast Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song)
Teri Saydak (Original, English)
Episode 718th June 2021 • Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song) • Elisabeth Le Guin
00:00:00 00:43:27

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Community activist and co-administrator of a Santa Ana-based non-profit, Teri reflects on different kinds of love, her travels to Guatemala, and on how collaborative music-making builds community.


Concern America Website: 

The Beatles:

Campbell, Colin. 2006. “’All You Need Is Love': From Romance to Romanticism: The Beatles, Romantic Love and Cultural Change”. Etnofoor 19(1): 111-123.

Son jarocho:

Frenk, Margit. 2007. “Aproximaciones a los recursos poéticos de las coplas folclóricas mexicanas.” In La Copla en México. Published by El Colegio de Mexico. 

Jiménez de Báez, Yvette, Ed. 1998. “Coplas Líricas de Veracruz” In Voces y Cantos de la Tradición: Textos Inéditos de la Fonoteca y Archivo de Tradiciones Populares. Published by El Colegio de Mexico. 

Verses sung by Los Utrera


Early in the morning I went

to the garden of my fantasy

and after visiting

all the growing flowers there,

I cut one flower for you,

more beautiful than you can imagine.

(So help me God, so help me God,)

I go around bent over

like someone who’s [rabbit] hunting,

with one knee bent,

but still walking.

Ayy, if the hare eludes you

You’ll be left staring!


I salute the singers

if they’ll give me permission,

I salute the gentlemen,

and everyone in general.

And I salute the flowers [ladies]

as I begin singing.

I’ll see whether I stay or not.

[They say we don’t love each other

because they don’t see us talking]*

I’d like to, but cannot

talk to you with my eyes.


Still in the world exists

s/he who captured my love

S/he who clothes her/himself in pride.

And that’s the reason that I

always sing so sadly.

Once I was your beloved,

and you my adored one,

Now I’m the Devil, I horrify you,

You say you’re afraid of me,

after loving me so much?


I am like fig candy,

that melts in your mouth.

The woman who tries me

will go crazy with pleasure,

and if she’s married, she’ll

keep her mouth very quiet.

In the jungle I saw burning

the lamp of Money.

I also saw at dawn

an elegant firefly.

How can I not want you

if you were my first love?

*It is difficult to understand what’s being sung in this part


Greetings and welcome!

Today’s interview is with Teri Saydak, a musician, dancer and community organizer who works as Development Coordinator with Concern America, an international nonprofit based right here in Santa Ana that works hand in hand with underserved communities worldwide, promoting health care, clean water, education and economic opportunity; you can find a link to their website on our website!

were recording in late July,:

For one of her songs, Teri chose a famous song by one of the most famous British rock bands of all time. But you won’t really hear the song in her interview. You may have noticed, in fact, that we generally play only very short clips of the music we talk about. This is because of copyright laws; we would have to pay a lot of money to get a license to use whole songs. And in the case of really famous artists like the ones Teri chose, their estate has armies of lawyers who are poised to pounce on us if we overstep. It would appear that all you need, in the end, is not love, but money... --But never fear. You can hear both Teri’s songs free on our Spotify playlist, accessible via our website at

th of July,:

TS: My name is Teri Saydak, and my pronouns are she and her. A little bit about me, I guess would be that I am the youngest of five girls and I grew up in Orange County, but I've been back in Santa Ana for almost 10 years.

And I work with an international development nonprofit that trains community members to provide health care services and clean water internationally.

And here in Santa Ana I'm very connected to El Centro Cultural de México, a community cultural center that I started coming to when I was in high school.

And there [I] was connected with, not only music, which was really important, but also just local community activism and starting to be involved with more things happening in the area and internationally. And so I stayed in contact with a lot of the people from the Centro and have continued to be really active there. So that's part of the reason why I'm back here.

ELG: Teri, how old are you?

TS: I am 34 years old.

ELG All right. SO, when you mentioned Centro and you said it was a reason you moved back here, where did you move from? Where were you before that?

TS: Well, I, I used to live around here. I grew up in Southern California, and then I went to school in San Francisco for four years. And then from there, I moved to Guatemala for about three and a half years. And so when I was in Guatemala, the organization I work for is actually based in Santa Ana. And so I was kind of deciding whether I continue working with [Concern] America in Guatemala, or I...they also offered me to go to Colombia, or they also offered me a position in their home office in Santa Ana. So, so it was deciding between a lot of different things, but I thought it would also be nice to, I would be a little bit closer to my family, my sisters were having kids... And so I was kind of wanting to spend more time with them during this time.

ELG: Um, you know, something that we really should mention for the listeners is that my, our relationship is unique among all the interview relationships that are happening in the context of this program. And that is that we live together. We've lived together for -- God -- like almost seven years, I think.

TS: I think so. Something like that!

ELG: Something like that--A long time. The fact that we can't tell how long it is actually a good sign because we get along really well. And then, of course, in the last nine months, not only have we lived together, but we have sheltered in place together.

TS: And that's true too.

ELG: And the fact that we're still speaking and, you know, pretty friendly --

TS: Yup!

ELG: --it's a good thing. But, yeah, that's, that's an element that makes this one interview unique, is our relationship.

[So] as you know, you can answer this question, "Where are you from?" you can answer it in any modality that you want. You can take it as a geographical question. You can take it as a cultural question. It could also refer to your state of mind, where are you coming from right now this minute? Really, any way you want to take this question, “Where are you from?” And then maybe you could tell me the name of a song or a piece of music that represents that place or that culture or that state of mind?

TS: Well, I think maybe not where I'm at right now, but where I had been coming from for a long time, more like in my original foundations of life... I don't know, I guess when I was younger, I was very--I wouldn't say that I'm not optimistic now; I think that I am. But I feel like then I thought it was a lot simpler.

ELG: What was a lot simpler?

TS: I think just like life and relating to people. Just kind of thinking it's like, OK, like "You love and care for somebody or you don't." And it was, I guess, a little bit more black or white, or it didn't require as much work. Like, you love somebody because you love them, and then they're in your group forever. [both laugh] But, but really, it's, you know...loving anybody, whether it's romantic or your friends or your community, it requires a lot more effort than just saying that you care about somebody or feeling that; it's [that] you have to do a lot of action. And it's not... it's not easy, most of the time...You know, sometimes it is, but a lot of times it's not. So, yeah, I think it was a time where I hadn't really thought about the full concept ….

ELG: Yeah, as a child, of course..

TS: So the song that I was thinking about, where I come from, is the song "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles.



TS: I started listening to Beatles when I was about five, like with people in my family and my neighbor. Things that they were into, and so I got really into. And I was a pretty diehard Beatles fan, probably until I reached high school. And then, you know, [I] started branching out a little bit more because of my sisters, and other people's musical influences. But I still love them and I listen to them a lot.

But I think that song in particular, you know, especially just the idea of, like, all you need is love, like, that'll just work. I was never very focused on, like, relationship aspect, like a pareja, that you just need love to make it work out. But I really thought of, like, the global sense…

ELG: Isn't it sort of unusual for a child? I mean, you said you probably started hearing this music when you were about five. And so maybe from the time you were in primary school -- isn't it kind of unusual for a child to really grasp and be so motivated by the idea of global harmony, of this other kind of love that isn't personal, isn't necessarily even your family? And I wondered if you could just talk a little bit about the culture in your family, growing up, that may have made that possible for you?

TS: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I think... it's just I always had really close -- I mean, my family, my sisters, I'm one of five girls, and we're pretty different, but we're still, we're pretty close. And my parents and my grandma lived with us. And I always had really good, close friends.

So I guess that was kind of my basis of an understanding of how we relate to each other, like on a personal level. And then I think in general, I think my parents did a good job about exposing us to other communities and to, you know... we did a lot of road trips. My mom especially was, you know, pretty active in a lot of things, in the church, I guess, for one thing. But, just kind of being aware about what's happening in the world. And my sisters are all older than I am, so a little bit through them.

ELG: Yeah.


terculture movement” of the:

This type of romanticism can be noticed all over The Beatles’ albums, and is key to understanding “All You Need is Love”. In The Beatles’ early music, the idea of love was presented as existing between two people—a romantic love—that could be ended by either of those two people. By the end of the Beatles’ career, love had become more than just affection between two people, but rather a “philosophy”, or a “way of life” does not require reciprocation from another. It instead is something that can--and indeed should be--held toward all people and all living things.

TS: My parents are definitely not like, you know, people that, that are like... You would not consider them hippies at all, [laughter] you know. But what I think they do have [is] a general sense of like, you know, living in a world bigger than ourselves.

ELG: Yeah. It's, you know, it's really interesting. I mean, I've met your parents. I know them a little bit. And you know, your mom in particular, she's very, very involved in the Catholic Church. And neither you nor I is involved in the Catholic Church. And we have our reservations about it. But there is that about the Catholic Church: I mean, the word "catholic" means "everywhere and for everyone."

And at its best, I think, you know, that that consciousness is there, for good people who are working within that church. Yeah. Your mom seems like that kind of a person to me.

TS: Yes. Yes. And she's -- I mean, there's all different types of people that interpret the Bible in different ways. But my mom is definitely like, "Jesus was poor, and he was there for the poor." And that's you know, that's more the reality than what a lot of people follow…

ELG: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, indeed. So, you were getting it from a lot of directions at once, it sounds like.

TS: I think so. Yeah.

ELG: OK, so back to our discussion of "All you need is love." I think I have just one more question for it, but it's a big one. So: asking you now to, to -- you know this is the song that has to do with where you come from, that's why you chose it, but I'm asking you to answer this question now in terms of where you are now. And I think you partly did already, but I'd like to hear you talk about a little bit more: is love all you need, to make the world a better place?

TS: Hmmm... Yes; but it depends on what you do with it. Like if you say you love somebody, then that's not enough. You just say it, I guess. But it has to be part of, it has to influence a lot of things. So I think it could be all you need, if it motivates you enough to take action and work for something; or even loving yourself and, like, setting those boundaries. But I mean, I think it does stem from love, and I think, like, respect, you know, can stem from love. Like all of those things. But, but that has to follow.

There's like a misperception of love and it could also be like, like obsessing; or even like, you know, I'm... "I love my country, so I won't criticize it."

ELG: Mmmm.

TS: And when people say that, it's not really love, because you're not, you're not addressing the things that need to be addressed, and the things that are harming our country. You're not willing to point out, and --

ELG: Yeah.

TS: -- you know, falling apart.

it -- but, we think that the:

TS: Yeah. Or just loving and, like, letting somebody go, you know, it's like you have to do that; or loving people and then having them not be in your life for a while! Like that's, you know, that's a way to do that as well, depending on...

ELG: Yeah. know.

ELG: Yeah. Yeah, it strikes me, as you're speaking, that love is, it's sort of like gasoline. I mean, that's all you need to make a car able to go, if it's a gas powered car. But somebody's got to drive that car.

TS: Yeah.

ELG: You know, and they've got to drive it correctly. Or love can create a terrible disaster.


It seems that there is a loss of innocence whenever we choose to understand something deeper. For Teri, and very much for The Beatles, understanding love in a deeper, more interconnected way meant shedding the easier, less complicated idea of what love is and can be. While sobering, it is also freeing, and powerful: Choosing to look beyond ourselves and seeing how we can connect—and love—those around us, is the first step towards a better future for us all.

ELG: Cool. Thank you. And then the second question is, what is a song or a music, piece of music or a kind of music, that expresses your hopes for the future?

TS: The most immediate response that comes to mind is the son, "Siquisirí," which is like the opening song often used in the fandango, in, like, the son jarocho tradition, música de cuerdas -- has a lot of different names -- but it comes from, like, the southern part of Veracruz. The version that I love is from Los Utrera because it's like the perfect -- like it just makes you feel happy, and you just move. And it really, everything just blends together perfectly.

ELG: OK, so let's talk a little bit for our listeners about what a fandango is, because some of them will know this very well and some of them will have no idea and, yeah, I just, I'd like to kind of set the scene a little bit for what it means when there's going to be a fandango, whether it's in rural Veracruz or here in suburban Orange County.

TS: Well... I mean, I guess I would describe a fandango as basically like a musical party where, you know, it's a gathering of people where... I don't know, sometimes it's for a birthday or a wedding or funeral and [there's] all kinds of reasons to have a fandango -- But, but music is kind of the motive around it, that you're gathering people. So there's different types from different areas, especially in Mexico, that they have, you know, fandangos or huapangos. But here, you know, here we play son jarocho, these are the fandangos that we know, where people gather with their instruments. Jaranas, requintos, there's all different types of musical instruments that are used in this style.

ELG: So it's kind of, kind of like guitar-like instruments, a lot of them.

TS: Yeah. A lot of guitar, and then like a, like a bass-type instrument and then, centered around a tarima, which is a wooden platform, small or large, where people dance in the middle. So that's part of the percussive element of the music.

ELG: Tarimas are musical instruments as well as dance floors, so they're built to resonate, and they're pretty loud actually! I've been in rural settings where a fandango was taking place, you know, in the countryside, and you can hear that percussion from people's feet, oh, you know, a quarter mile, maybe more than a quarter mile away.

TS: Yeah. It's usually the loudest part. Yup.

ELG: There's no firm line between dance and music making. They actually are the same thing in a fandango, which is really fun and cool.


The dancing itself is an integral part of the sound-worlds as well as the social worlds of this tradition. Zapateado is a form of foot percussion, executed with hard-soled shoes on a resonant wooden platform--the “tarima” mentioned in the interview. As Teri says. it’s often the loudest part of the fandango, and it is the rhythmic backbone; the dancers control the musical rhythm, and not the other way around. It is particularly interesting in this regard to note that many sones are danced by women only; the fandango jarocho is literally a woman-centered event, and through their dancing, women control its pace and feel.

Teri is an excellent dancer, much in demand in fandangos. Because the zapateado on the recording Teri chose is not easy to hear in the mix, she recorded some excerpts for us, so that listeners can hear the rhythmic “feel” of this style of dancing. The following audio excerpt has been recorded with one microphone close to the guitarra grande (played by Elisabeth) and another next to the tarima placed close enough to capture the zapateado (performed by Teri). The audio oscillates between the two so that you can listen to the both in isolation.

CLIP: “El Siquisirí,” Guitarra & zapateado ONLY

TS: And there's singing. It's like a call and response for most of the songs -- or sones, is what they're called. There's a particular melody and idea for the son, but the way that it's played is different each time. So like there's not one set of verses that you always sing all the time. So it's always varying.

ELG: Yeah, it's like a son is like a....It's like a container--

TS: Yes!

ELG: --You know, and --

TS: -- and it changes each time.

ELG: So that, I think that connects to another question that I think is really important. It's a little bit harder to get at, maybe, than just describing, OK, what is a fandango in this tradition? And that is... It's more like sort of, "Why is a fandango?"

-- So, fandangos do certain kinds of work within a community, they serve certain purposes within a community, I think. And I think those purposes have shifted with migration, like what they do in a rural rancho, that's one thing. What they do here in Santa Ana is certainly related but maybe a little different, and we should talk about that a little bit as well, I think.

TS: Yeah, I mean, I think, I think the base of it is... would be, it's a way for people to relate to each other. So I think in the community, people like, you know, are gathering for a party. And it's a form of communication that people have. And because it's music and because it's very participatory, so everybody can do something. So whether you're you're dancing or you're playing or you're singing, even participants just sitting and watching have a role. More than anything, it's a gathering. Usually it's to celebrate something, but it could be anything. I mean, usually it's like somebody's birthday, or a birth, or a death, weddings...And then like the fiestas patronales, like, you know, like anniversaries, religion. Like, cosechas del año, sometimes they'll do that. Like there's even, like, it's not like so talked about as much, but there's like fandangos like when people are making tamales, and like sones, para enterrar la basura que usas [both laugh] you know, like, oh, there's so many things, because there's different times for everything.

ELG: Right. Right, right. I mean, what you're chiefly talking about here is, is the, you know, the rural tradition from, from which the fandangos that you and I have chiefly done here, here in Santa Ana, you know, they're based on that tradition. Very, very firmly based, and they draw from it in all sorts of ways. One thing I've noticed, you know, with, with fandango culture here in Santa Ana, which is an urban culture and a migrant culture, largely -- you know, sometimes we struggle a little bit. We've talked about having a fandango on Día de Santa Ana. And it turns out there's more than one Santa Ana. You know, there's like several saints with that name, and makes it complicated. And then it turns out, you know, that that day falls on a Wednesday, which is a work night for most people. So it's a non-starter. So the discussions about, like, "When shall we have the next big fandango?" -- Of course, all of this was pre-COVID.

TS: Yeah...

ELG: We haven't been talking about having fandangos in the last nine months. We're not quite sure when the next one is going to be. But in any case, in an urban setting, that does shift.

TS: Yeah, definitely.

ELG: Something else that is really important to me, as a fandanguera, is, the music is all made by the people who attend the party. There's... I mean, I've been at fandangos where people got tired, and so we put on, you know, some recorded cumbia for a while or something, but really the soul of the fandango is the music that you make yourselves.

TS: Mm hmm.

ELG: You know, so it's totally, totally interactive the entire time. There's no zoning out to this nice music that’s just coming over the speakers. You've got to do it.

TS: Yeah, they're a lot of work!

ELG: It's a lot of work.

TS: --And there's a lot of like ebb and flow during fandangos like... Usually like Siquisirí, which is the son that I I chose. That one is like full energy, because it's the start of the fandango. So people are pumped! So that's when you always have, like the most amount of people, because sometimes it lasts all night or days in some places. And so it kind of, it's kind of like an ebb and flow of people sometimes. But usually the Siqui is where everybody is there. There's the most people watching, [the] most people that want to dance. I mean, I'm there and I'm pumped for Siqui, but it's like, "I'm not going to do as much work," because like later on, I'm going to be like --

ELG: You have to save yourself.

TS: Yeah. No, it's like, then you sometimes, you play the first couple sones and then you take a little break, and then you come back strong in the morning time... And it all varies.

ELG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's an amazing, amazing ebb and flow. And, you know, along about two, three in the morning, if this is a good fandango, you're in an altered state by that point. You know, it's not it's not like anything else I've ever experienced.

OK, so last on this, on this thread and -- you know, this question is, in a way, it's kind of an elephant in the room -- Neither you nor I -- we're obviously both quite involved in fandango culture. Neither you nor I is Mexican. I have no Latinx heritage at all, and I don't believe you do either.

TS: Nope.

ELG: So, you know: so, white girl from Orange County, white lady from Portland, Oregon. What -- how did we get involved in this very regional, very specific Mexican musical tradition?

TS: Well... I mean, the Centro is like the short answer. And we already talked about Centro...

ELG: Yeah, you mentioned it earlier. Yeah, we both ended up attending classes and, and helping organize fandangos and entering into this culture through the Centro Cultural de México here in Santa Ana. And yeah, that is the short answer. I think I'm... I'm asking the question in a slightly different level, maybe. It's like, what was it that made this, of all the traditions out there, the one that, you know, that drew you.

TS: Well, in general, I think there's... I think this type of music, or like the function of this type of music, is in every culture. And that's kind of a broad statement. But I think the function is like, participatory music where people have a role and have a meaning together. And this is like, like everywhere, there's a zillion more types, so....I think that generally most people are looking for ways to connect to people.

And I don't know, I think here in the States, especially, a lot of us don't have that of our blood heritage, I guess? Like I'm Italian and Polish. I mean, if I lived in New York where I have a lot more Italian relatives, I think maybe I'd be a little bit more involved with, like, the Italian community. But here, I'm not as much. But I think that people have that natural tendency to want to connect through something that's a little bit bigger than themselves.

ELG: Mm hmm.

TS: And honestly, for me, I think with son jarocho particularly. I mean, it's, it's amazing and beautiful and awesome. And I see it when I play to people, when it's successful, it's like we're transmitting that...that participation and that excitement. And I don't know, alegría, where the music comes from.

ELG: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah, fandango energy can -- if you're in a performance situation, you know, where the musicians are on a stage and the audience is not on the stage, and there's that separation, you know -- Fandango energy can sort of go across that division and, and you know, that alegría, that excitement that you're talking about in the song -- or in the son that you chose, you know? -- that can just kind of erase that sense of separation.

TS: Yeah.

ELG: So… there are a number of versions of this one son recorded by Los Utrera. Why this version?

TS: Well, I mean, I think in all recorded versions of almost all son anywhere, this particular version, I feel, like, gathers the feeling of a fandango. There's just so much happening! And so many elements and different phases of the son, all in just seven minutes, which is nothing of what normally this has. You know, normally this can be played for hours! And it already has like so much buildup and emotion. And they do a great job of of bringing that into a recording. Because I feel like generally it's really difficult to record son, to keep that keep that feeling, and keep that excitement about it, and joy. And I think they really did a good job of recording that in this version.

ELG: Yeah. Because it's, it's not really performance music, right? It's… it's music for participating.

TS: Yes.

ELG: And so the whole dynamic of, like, recording a son is a little bit, like, alien to...

TS: Yes. Obviously they -- everything is tight and perfect about, not only their musicianship, but the way that they play together. It's like, I don't know, I feel like especially this version, they do a really good job of weaving together all of the different instruments and melodies, like even starting with the two requintos at the beginning, like that punteado, which is like even higher, and, ahh!

🡪 CLIP: Los Utrera, “El Siquisirí”

Different parts are really woven in and out. So you can hear all of the elements of it.

ELG: Yeah. Yeah. It's like in a nutshell what, what might in a fandango take place over, you know, 45 minutes or an hour.

TS: Yeah. And kind of like, I think especially like in a fandango, like if you walk around to different parts, like you can hear things better. So it's kind of like, you know, if you're closer to [the] requinto or like positioned right in front of it, you can hear it a lot better right there than if you are farther away and you can just hear the zapateado; like you can hear the cajón and you can hear that percussiveness stronger at different points than others.

ELG: Mm-hm, yeah, as if you were walking around the fandango...that's cool, I hadn't realized that, but thinking back to listening to it, you're right. That's the effect they get. --So you chose this song as a representative or an expression of your hopes for the future. Can you make that connection for us a little bit?

TS: Well, I think first off, I mean, to me, this son is very welcoming. I mean, this version in particular. But also in general, it really draws you in, and it says, you know, "Something's going to happen, come and listen or participate, be part of this!"

ELG: Do the lyrics actually say that? What are they singing about in, in this son?

TS: In this particular version?

ELG: In that particular version, yes.

TS: Ummm... Not all of them. I think there is, like I think the opening verso is like, introduction. But no, they mostly just use, like, beautiful versos or interesting versos.

ELG: A lot of the versos are, you know, about kind of... Well a lot of them are about love. That other kind of love that, that the Beatles song is not about!

TS: Yeah.


Yvette Jiménez de Báez, a professor of literature at the College of Mexico, published a compilation of traditional coplas—which we can think of as the verses—in son jarocho. As per her work, another typical copla sung “Siquirisí” is:

Con permiso, compañeros,

voy a empezar a cantar;

pero sí antes les aviso

que me van a dispensar,

en este lugar que piso

acabado de llegar.

He llegado a esta función

a ver las mil maravillas,

y digo a todo el montón:

"No soy de la Mixtequilla,

pero doy mi corazón

A toda la palomilla.”

Which translates as:

With permission, companions,

I am going to start singing;

But first, I ask you

to make allowances for me,

in this place that I just arrived.

I've come to this event

to see the thousand wonders,

and I say to the whole crowd:

"I'm not from the Mixteca,

but I give my heart

To all the pretty girls.”


ELG: But, but you know, they're also about like the things that one would see and hear and experience. A worldly quality.

TS: They say like, oh, like like "Voy a empezar a cantar," and they’re singing, or like, you know, "This is the first time that I'm singing in this home," Or sometimes they're like saludos, like, you know, "This is who I am and this is where I came from." You know, people have their own versos that they'll sing. So that's pretty typical, and sometimes goes on for a while, and in a real fandango it's like, you know, the first ten minutes are introductory verses.

ELG:...So there's a lot of lyrics--.

TS: There's a lot of lyrics, yeah.

ELG: We're going to we're going to put the -- the "lyrics," it's not the word you usually use with son -- We're going to put the verses, the versos, up on the website.

TS: I thought about this son now, because the gathering aspect of it, I think is really important; I think the connection to, like, to history, because it's traditional music, and is made by a lot of people. And a lot of people know how to play... So, you know, it's...

ELG: Inclusive?

TS: Yeah. Very inclusive and very -- community building? Like, I think that's... It brings that representation.


As Teri mentioned, these coplas—or versos as she called them—were meant to connect people, to gather people; we can see that in the fact that these lyrics are presented in everyday speech. These lyrics reflect the lived experiences of those who consume it, and in that way, serve to strengthen community bonds amongst the community, and even invite others outside of it to join in and become part of those celebrations, traditions, and communities themselves.

Very much like “All You Need is Love”, “Siquirisí” is aimed at uniting people, connecting people, and reminding us all of our shared humanity. We all on some level want to give and feel love, just like we all—in some way or another--want to express ourselves, to be seen and accepted as we are, especially to those we hold dear.

ELG: It makes it exceptionally nice and coherent pair with your first song, actually. It's like in my design, you know, the structure of these interviews, the idea is where you're coming from, and then kind of the idea with the esperanzas question is, you know, where you're going to. But it's... It seems like "All you need is love" and this son, they both kind of point in the same direction.

TS: Yeah, no, I think that's true. I mean, I think that there's a lot of things that I've carried with me from where I'm coming from and son is something that I started playing in high school and I've grown a lot with it. Like a lot it, you know, has helped shape the rest of my life, I guess, with just my involvement in... in Latin America and my work; even learning Spanish. When I started playing, I didn't speak Spanish! So I -- to me, I mean, it's been a tool to connect with other people, but also help me find a lot more tools along the way, of just being in the world, and then also my work and things that we want to change.

ELG: And I would like to just hook that back up with the idea that this is the music that you chose to represent your hopes for the future. Why is inclusivity important, hopeful, for you?

TS: Well, I think it means that, like, everybody has a role to to do, everybody has a part in making and -- not only just making something, but for it to for it to come together, for it to sound good, you have to have different elements. Even if you have two professional musicians playing, it sounds amazing and it's great. But if you have 100 people like really in a fandango, it's a whole other thing. And so it's really the importance of, you know, involving more people... That the music isn't just about how you sound, that it's much more what you're creating. And I think that's hopeful, because I think we all have our own ideas and agendas about what we want to do, our own happiness and things like that. But it's not really about you. It's supposed to be about, like, you know, you in relation to the rest of the world, and like, what are we doing, or what are we creating together? Because you can -- I don't know, you can do as much as you want as an individual, but it's not going to have a lasting impact as it would if you relate to other people. And that's not to say like you -- that your job has to be, like, helping people. But it's just doing things with the intention that other people are involved.

ELG: Yeah... Amen. You say that so eloquently. You know, and again, just returning us to the present moment, a very strange national moment where it's more evident than it's ever been, I think, that we live in a very large, very wealthy and extremely divided nation. And that fundamental act of realizing, A) it's not just about me and, B) What I do or think or feel is important in some kind of direct proportion to how much it forms alliances with others--

TS: Mm hmm.

ELG: Seems ... It just seems to me like it’s always a timely message.

TS: Yeah.

ELG: And maybe especially so right now.

TS: That is true. It's a timely message.

Would you like to know more?

On our website at, you can find lyrics to the songs we discuss, our Blog about the issues of history, culture, and politics that come up around every song, links for listeners who might want to pursue a theme further, and some very cool imagery. You’ll find playlists of all the songs from all the interviews to date, and our special Staff-curated playlist as well.

We invite your comments or questions! Contact us at our website, or participate in the Si Yo Fuera conversation on social media. We’re out there on FaceBook, Instagram Twitter, and TikTok. And then there’s just plain old word of mouth. If you like our show, do please tell your friends to give it a listen. And do please subscribe, on any of the major podcast platforms. We’ll bring a new interview for you every two weeks on Friday mornings.

Julia Alanís, Cynthia Marcel De La Torre, and Wesley McClintock are our sound engineers; Zoë Broussard and Laura Díaz hold down the marketing; David Castañeda is Music Researcher; Deyaneira García and Alex Dolven make production possible. We are a not-for-profit venture, currently and gratefully funded by the John Paul Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

For now, and until the next interview—keep listening to one another!

I’m Elisabeth Le Guin, and this is, “Si yo fuera una canción -- If I were a song…”




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