I was about ten years old when I heard for the first time “Rio Ancho” come from the radio. The music of that young flamenco guitar player, Paco de Lucía, would be a constant presence in my life to this day. As soon as I could afford to buy one of those old LPs, his album Fuente y Caudal was the first I bought and I continued to listen to it (in its CD and MP3 iterations) over the years. It has become a habit to hear flamenco on Saturday mornings while doing things around the house or at night when all is quiet and one can concentrate on every note.
I saw Paco in concert in Buenos Aires many years ago and one memorable night in Boston’s Symphony Hall along with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. I could not find a seat close to the action but I could hear those fingers play their magic, getting things out of that guitar that seemed at the same time naturally easy and impossible to play.
The angelical precision of those golden hands and that precious heart stopped doing magic on earth today while playing with his children in Cancun, Mexico, the vast Atlantic between him and his native town of Algeciras.
I know that serene music could only come from a heart at peace with God and men so today I can imagine him meeting his friend, Camarón de la Isla and others who preceded him, his teachers, his mother and father, his many good friends.
Manitas de Oro is gone from this sad place but he left us his heart in his music, chords floating forever under the Andalusian sky.
Thank you for your art, Paco. Que en paz descanse tu alma.
Published 26 February 2014.