Selena: Songs of Childhood
By Yesenia Cuevas
One of my strongest music memories took place when I was six years old, I remember my father would always leave to his friend’s house right after he finished his dinner. He’d be gone until midnight, so my mother and I would dance to the songs on the radio from the huge boom box we had installed at our kitchen.
We would dance along to Spanish music (since my parents only spoke Spanish), so I was first introduced to Reggaeton, Cumbia, Bachata and, best of all, to Selena Quintanilla.
I remember that my mom and I would be all smiles, trying to out-do one another with our funky dance moves. This was usually my mother’s happiest part of her entire day because whenever my father would arrive home from his friend’s house, I’d be lying in bed awake listening to the drunken nonsense of garbled words that would spill out of his mouth and my mom scorning and expressing her frustrations towards my father’s alcohol addiction.
However, I want to revert back to the day that I was first introduced to the idol of my youth, Selena. I remember dancing with my mother when suddenly an announcer made a grand introduction to Selena and the song that was going to come on next, called “La Carcacha.” It began with a group of hands clapped to a steady rhythm, “Uno *clap *clap *clap, dos *clap *clap *clap, tres *clap *clap *clap, cuatro.” Then the catchiest, grooviest, most upbeat tune followed from that grand introduction. It was from that point on that I wanted to know what the lyrics were and who this lady was.
“Who is this?” My mother registered my liking of Selena which made her smile grow wider; she responded with,
“This is Selena, one of the most iconic women of Spanish music and one of my favorites too! You know, I own some of her tapes that have her best hits and this song is in the tapes too! I’ll need to look for it though; I don’t remember where I have all my old tapes…”
Fifteen years have passed and I still play Selena’s tapes, but as I’ve grown, my connection to Selena’s music has evolved emotionally. Specifically, when I was younger, I only cared for knowing how to sing through the whole song without messing up. I’d stand in the middle of my room and use my hairbrush as a microphone and perform until I got too sweaty or tired.
Yet, it wasn’t until fifteen years later that I truly listened for Selena’s message and meaning within her songs. I must mention, when I was younger, I’d skip through all of Selena’s sad or “serious” songs, because I didn’t know the message, not until I had my heart broken.
My first heartbreak happened recently and I turned to music for consolation. There is a particular song of Selena’s called, “Si Una Vez,” translated as “If One Time,” a song that showcases Selena’s passion within her vocals. In essence, this song talks about the regrets of falling in love with a lover that betrayed and left her, but vowing to never letting that lover into her life again.
Her vocals are decorated with confidence as she attacks each word with a staccato fashion, yet laces each end of her song phrases with elegance. One of her many vocal talents is her ability to control her voice from becoming too overpowering where her voice becomes scratchy, but settles down to a pleasant falsetto. Selena’s voice grants her credibility in which the listener truly believes her words and emotions. As I listen to this song, I’m left with anger, resentment, but with a feeling of self-satisfaction.
Selena’s meaning or messages conveyed through her songs are about female empowerment; she builds my self-confidence as her songs project a woman who is strong and won’t let anything bring her down.
As I continue to grow up and go through this life, I will encounter unpleasant people and unpleasant situations, but it’s through the messages of the songs that have made a prominent mark throughout my childhood that help serve as reminders that I can surpass anything with confidence.