Paco de Lucia at the Jazz Festival in Vitoria, Spain, 2010
By Mary Foran
Fame is not what Paco de Lucia is looking for, he says, “That’s what I dislike the most about all this. There are many people… who like being a personality and are happy about it. But I don’t like it. I was born to be a spectator, not a protagonist.” Fame. . . “obliges you to adopt a series of postures, and you have to condition your personality many times. It ties you up and takes away. . . an indefinable freshness out of your life.” He says it’s bothersome when people recognize him in the streets, though “at first there is a time when vanity makes you like it. . .”
But since Paco de Lucia is a professional and “since we live in a society where we need money to live,” he continues working, giving concerts, making records and even doing soundtracks for films. . . “If I can earn money at something I like doing, then I think that I am near happiness.”
Paco de Lucia’s most recent concert, held in Madrid’s Teatro Real, was nothing less than joy for his audience, who called him back three times to show their appreciation in applause. But Paco de Lucia says he felt better the first time he performed in the Teatro Real, before his novel soloist style became so popular. “The first time was good because [the Teatro Real] was full of young people and “aficionados” of the guitar. This last time was not very good because it was almost a compromise.” The people went for the benefit of a diabetic charity. . . or because “it was organized by the monarchy, and therefore it was considered “classy” to go…the king’s sister was there, and many people went just to show off their new clothes, at least, that’s what I think. . . .”
Teaching is something Paco de Lucia says he doesn’t like to do. “I don’t believe in teaching,” he says. “Everyone in Flamenco should feel and play his own way…for me what is most important is expression, and expression is very difficult to teach. You can teach someone how to move their fingers but not how to put expression into the music. . .”
Paco de Lucia has made innumerable records, “Fuente y caudal” perhaps being his most famous solo album, along with “En vivo desde el Teatro Real,” the record of his historic performance as a solo Flamenco guitarist in a theater dedicated to classical music. . .
Paco de Lucia has been compared with another soloist Flamenco guitarist, Manolo Sanlucar. “There are many things we have in common,” says Paco de Lucia. They are both in the same stage of their careers, they’re from the same generation of Flamenco guitarists, and they’re from the same village, he says, “But each has his own personality, though we’re fighting for the same cause, to make Flamenco known and appreciated.”
Though Paco de Lucia is most famous as a soloist, he says he still likes to play with dancers and singers. “I’ve played so many years as a soloist that now I miss them.” His favorite Flamenco singer is Camarron de la Isla. . . “Practically the whole professional life of Camarron has been united with mine,” he adds. . .
He’s not concerned about his reception [in his forthcoming concerts in South America and U.S. cities]. “I do the best I know how…if they like me or if they don’t…it’s really the same to me because, if there are two or three people with whom I can communicate, then that’s enough. I’m not a man of ‘grand illusions.’ I would be satisfied to reach a point that’s real to me.”
But what, for Paco de Lucia, is real, and what is he really like? “I’m a chameleon,” he says “. . .I’m looking for something that defines me because that’s very bad, a very bad way to live.”
Paco de Lucia, a family man with two little girls, four and 15 months, and a beautiful wife, says the way has been difficult for them. “But I think they will understand, because more than for me I do everything for her and for my children.”
As for the future, Paco de Lucia prefers to leave that open. “Making goals is silly and frustrating, because, what if you meet your goal…by going along only looking towards that and missing everything else that’s around you? I prefer to go more slowly, going where I want to go but letting the future be a surprise. (Se hace el camino al andar) – Antonio Machado. The road is made by walking
Featured image/Paco de Lucia at the Jazz Festival in Vitoria, Spain, 2010/Alberto Cabello via flickr, cc by2.0
Paco de Lucia CD/Amazon Music
Biennial de Flamenco, Fair Use
Prince of Asturias laureate/Reuter/Pool
Ed’s note: Paco de Lucia passed on in 2014
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