20 – Ingeniería de versos y cantares
Paco Ibáñez en el Olympia was an album recorded in the famous Parisian venue in 1969. It has since become one of the great classic albums of Spanish music, and a window into a very particular time and place in both Spain’s and France’s recent history.
Ibáñez had been banned from performing in public in his country of birth, due to his openly oppositional stance to the Franco regime. The gig at the Olympia was full of young Spanish dissenters, mixed with many of the same feverish French University students who had been at the era-defining May ’68 Paris riots (Seen Bertolucci’s film The Dreamers?).
To an extent, Ibáñez modelled himself as a performer on the chansonnier George Brassens, a truly influential figure for several generations of Spanish cantautores (politically committed singer-songwriters), who adopted his style of acerbic social commentary in songs that were also witty, humourous and catchy.
Ibáñez gave Spanish lyrics to some of Brassens’ tunes, and also set to music the work of many prominent Spanish poets. Among these was Gabriel Celaya’s powerful poem La poesía es un arma cargada de futuro (poetry is a weapon loaded with future), a title that could sum up Ibáñez’s whole attitude to music and song: “Poesía para el pobre, poesía necesaria como el pan de cada día…”.