Guantanamera and Gate Gourmet: Going for a Song?
PAULINE BRADLEY(left) at Robert Tressal
("Ragged Trousered Philanthropists")
event in Hastings
Capitalism takes what we produce, spoils or diminishes it, and sells it back to us, if we can afford the price. Not just cars and houses, but our dreams, our culture and, once it has disposed of them, our heroes (look at all those Che tee shirts).
North London singer-songwriter and trade unionist Pauline Bradley has come upon a particularly galling little injustice. Pauline writes:
"Have you seen that stupid advert for Burger King where the (quiet) voice sings '£1.99, they're only £1.99' to the tune of GUANTANAMERA? I expect you know the history of that song, and that torture and imprisonment now happens "Where the Palm Trees grow" in Jose Marti's beautiful part of Cuba.
"The song is copyrighted. I’ll read you what a songbook says
'Guantanamera, Words by Jose Marti, Music Adaptation by Hector Angulo and Pete Seeger, copywright 1963 and 1965 by Full River Music Incorporated, New York, USA. All rights for the British Commonwealth of nations excluding Canada and Australasia and the Republic of Eire controlled by Harvey Music Ltd, In Form Place, London, W8. All rights reserved, International Copyright Secured.'
"I know this because I wanted to record my communist spirited version but when I saw the copyright I gave up! Re my music see http://www.paulineb.co.uk/. I wear many hats but (for better or for worse) I always have the same name. So it looks as though Burger King have pinched it, and aren’t they part of Texas Pacific who fund Gate Gourmet?".
Indeed they are, Pauline.
And I think the authors and adaptors of Guantanamera would be as scathing about the way that US-owned firm has treated its workers as about the US tyrants' torture cages. Why should these capitalists be allowed to use the tune to sell their burgers, when a singer like Pauline can't bring its spirit up to date?
OK, so whatever creative genius came up with the "only £1.99" line probably thought only of the well-used football chant "There's only one......" etc, rather than remembering it had an original. But they should be told. I mean, the football crowds only "sang" for their own pleasure (if no one else's), whereas the commercial is after all, for ...commercial gain.
Maybe it's not too late for someone to have a word with the copywright holders, and the advertisers And meanwhile I hope I'm not breaking any confidences or copywrights by revealing Pauline Bradley and Cristina Roe's version:
Words by Jose Marti – Music and original song words adapted by Hector Angula and Pete Seeger.
Adapted in 2005 by Pauline Bradley and Cristina Roe
Yo soy en hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma (x2)
Y antes de morir me quiero Echarmis versos del alma
I am a sincere man from where the palm trees grow (x2)
And before I die my heartfelt verses I’ll throw
George Bush is not so sincere,
And neither is Tony Blair
For they have turned Guantanamo
Into a living nightmare
It’s Cuban sands have been sullied
Only the dammed now go there.
I see the prisoners lying
Shackled in chains
I hear them screaming from torture
The barbed wire strains
Without their lawyers or families
Their cries are in vain