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In an interview that’s floating around on the web, Silvio Rodríguez discusses the frustrated love that inspired him to write “Ojalá”:

“Pasaron los años y el recuerdo de aquel amor tan bonito, tan productivo, tan útil (ojo, no confundir con utilitario), enriquecedor, de aporte a uno… pues, estaba obsesionado yo con esa idea. Y porque fue un amor frustrado, tronchado por las circunstancias, por la vida, no fue una cosa que se agotara, pues se me quedó un poco como un fantasma y por eso compuse esta canción en un momento quizás de delirio, de arrebato, de sentimiento un poco desmesurado: ojalá esto, ojalá lo otro.”

Life got in the way of love, but some of that love remained and haunted him. In a fit of madness (“arrebato”), Silvio wrote this song, probably being a bit “desmesurado,” which could mean either excessive or insolent.

“Desmesurado” comes from “mesura,” the old way of saying “templanza,” which is temperance or moderation. The lyrics of “Ojalá” do seem a bit excessive and even insulting. The relationship didn’t work out, but, from what Silvio says in the interview, it doesn’t seem like he hated the woman.

When we hear the lyrics for “Ojalá,” we hear the desire that Silvio has either for this woman to vanish (“Ojalá pase algo que te borre de pronto”) or for himself to die (“Ojalá por lo menos que me llevé la muerte”), so that he never has to see her again. Silvio wishes that the beautiful things in this world may never reach out to this woman: “Ojalá que la lluvia deje de ser milagro que baja por tu cuerpo…. Ojalá que la tierra no te bese los pasos.” Silvio acknowledges that this woman is, in some ways, perfect, but he wishes that away, too: “Ojalá que se te acabe la mirada constante, la palabra precisa, la sonrisa perfecta.” You can find the lyrics timed to the song here:

Despite the “sentimiento desmesurado,” “Ojalá” remains one of Silvio’s most popular and enduring songs. This may be due to the literary quality of the lyrics. Silvio is one of the major figures of “Nueva trova,” a genre of music which values the quality of the lyrics. Silvio may be considered a troubadour of the Cuban Revolution, but he certainly also knows how to sing about loveor at least wish it away.


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