There are words that touch the soul. There are melodies that run throughout the body leaving a feeling of vastness and emptiness. There are children who are born under a curtain of bombs while others die and kill under dirty wires of mud and sweat. There are rich getting poorer in empathy and generosity and poor who enrich in courage and humility. There are men for whom language is a symbol of power and taxation and there are languages that are powerful without imposing. There are poets that become artists and artists that become poets.
There are musicians and actors, and actors that are also musicians.
There are also Ovidis but only one is Montllor.
Alcoi, February 4, 1942. Ovidi Montllor borns in a turbulent world. World powers dance the dance of death and destruction, and at home the land remains barren, still bleeding wounds from three years ago. These are times of hunger and misery, times of resignation and fear.
«I have been the son of a poor family. Since we did not have enough even to buy a warm coat, I always had newspapers under my clothes. Before leaving home for school, my mother used to put two peeled garlic in my mouth. To get some calories I kept chewing that and at the same time I ran as much as possible to the first fountain.»
Hard childhood and youth without a future. Stay or leave. A door opens in the big city, Barcelona. An uncle returned from exile becomes the hand that stretches him into a new life. In the morning he will serve coffees at the Ritz and in the afternoon he will practice in independent theater groups.
Oh Barcelona, you know how to captivate, how to create that atmosphere that only the people that have lived you know and appreciate. You know how to make streets swarm with life and to make spontaneity become inspiration.
And the people. People that come and go, people that you greet today and leave tomorrow to a far point on the planet. The widow landlady who sells what little remains to survive. You look at her and you feel sorry, then you buy her a guitar which you can not play.
«I went to the «cova del Drac» in Barcelona, where the new catalan musical movement was growing. With a notebook and a pen I plucked chords used by the singers and then at home, I tried to play them on my guitar.»
Music, composition, theater and later movies. Ovidi Montllor developed his career as he built a place in the cultural environment of the late sixties.
As a representative of the cultural movement «la Nova Cançó» he set to music several works of poets in catalan language as Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Salvador Espriu, Vicent Andrés Estelles or Pere Quart.
His lyrics are made of an exquisite methaphorical realism, the power and depth of his voice transform the ink into something solemn, life experiences told with irony and a dogged criticism to the Franco regime.
Ovidi, as his closest friends knew him, was a friendly and modest man, a sincere voice of justice, who did not have all the recognition he deserved in life as often happens.
This year we conmemorate the twentieth aniversary of his death. Here I spend my tribute to an artist in capital letters, a free spirit who knew how to use in his way the power of words to change the world.
A la vida [fragmento]
Cante a la vida plena,
des de la vida buida.
Tanque els ulls, baixe el cap.
La sang em puja al cap.
I el cor em diu que SÍ.
El cervell diu que SÍ.
I tot en mi és un SÍ.
Que mai no acabarà.
Canto la vida-SÍ.
Autocrítica i crítica [fragmento]
Tancat a casa la major part del temps,
no sóc amant de llepar. No tinc déus,
ni pensament de trobar-me en tal cas.
Jo sóc qui sóc. Si vols veure’m, em veus.
El meu treball el demostre com puc.
I tant com puc, em done tot a ell.
Millor, pitjor… El judici ja és vostre.
I amb l’ofici, arribaré a ser vell.
Llavors veure’m quina retribució em tocarà
en tant que jubilat. Si dic això, és perquè com he dit,
no sóc amant de llepar un sol dit.
Jo sé que vaig amb les meues cançons
saltant històries, saltant situacions.
Ara dic groc, i després passe al verd.
Sé que és difícil seguir-me l’explicat.
Per tant, per tots, em vaig a presentar:
Jo ací explique a la meua manera uns fets,
un temps, una estima, una idea.
Jo sóc l’artista. El cantant. El pallasso.
Rosa Mª Torrademé
To know more about Ovidi Montllor’s work:
Webs in english:
The Role of Music in Multicultural Activism
Eunice Rojas, Lindsay Michie