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Agustín Lara‘s song, “La clave azul,” gives this blog its title. “La clave azul” premiered around 1934 as the outro for “La Hora Íntima de Agustín Lara” on Mexico City’s legendary XEW. As the outro, “La clave azul” was intentionally brief at around half a minute:

Solismanía goes into some of the lyrical questions en español. The blog focuses, of course, on Javier Solís’ wonderful extended version from 1964:

The blogger wonders why “se va la clave azul.” However, the author misses the point that “La clave azul” was an outro.

While Solismanía does mention an earlier and more famous program, “La Hora Azul,” the author doesn’t go into the question of “azul.” “Azul” was the color of the blues. The artists featured on “La Hora Azul” weren’t exactly singing the blues given the show’s focus on boleros. Boleros are, however, focused on that old blue feeling. It can be sad if you want it to be, or it can make you happy to know that you have lived, loved and maybe even lost. Lara’s lyrics were poetic, and he was influenced by the modernismo movement. Azul was huge for Rubén Darío, signifying “lo ideal, lo etéreo, lo infinito, la serenidad del cielo sin nubes, la luz difusa, la amplitud vaga sin límites, donde nacen, viven, brillan y se mueven los astros.” “Azul,” then, most likely references the blues and Darío’s use of the word.

Not present in either Lara’s or Solís’ versions is the actual instrument and rhythm of the clave that we hear in Toña la Negra’s version:

As with many of her songs, this one showcases Toña’s Afro-Mexican and Caribbean roots. This version might have been the first extended one given Toña’s close association with Lara during the XEW years and his assertion that she was his favorite female interpreter.

An instrumental version, perhaps based on the extended vocal version, is the first track of the album Agustín Lara y la Gran Orquesta de Solistas:

I’m not sure if there ever really was a “Grand Orchestra of Soloists,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if we owe this oxymoron to the everlasting wit of “El flaco de oro.”


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