New York Icons: The Bell Jar and Siembra

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership today on Studio 360. INTRODUCING NEW YORK icons stories about art and entertainment spawned in New York. Like that 1950s summer the young Sylvia Plath spent in the city. Plath found herself suddenly embedded in the fashion and beauty industry and she’s become. Part of this vast propaganda machine that turns women into objects the making of The Bell Jar and the Unmaking of its author plus. How.

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S2: Women blades and Willie cologne took salsa from the streets of New York to the world.

S3: The album became a smash. I mean the Beatles size type of success abroad. The groundbreaking hit album siempre. This was like Shakespearean poetry on wax.

S4: A New York novel and a New York album both ahead on Studio 360 right after this.

S5: This is Studio 360. I’m Curtis and I’m sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial first level of guard. This was Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden. I’d like to have the roasted chicken piece. Very well done. Editing is all about timing. I try to get a little bit away from the actual subject to get the place right.

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S6: Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen Studio 360 is American Icon series has deeply examined dozens of important and influential works of literature music film architecture design and all kinds of visual art such as the Disney theme parks and the autobiography of Malcolm X. These are the works of art and entertainment that have shaped who we are and how we see ourselves as Americans now. Studio 360 is turning to our hometown New York City for a new batch of icon stories. The stories about works of art that took shape in the city but that have shaped the minds of people everywhere. Later on in this hour we’ll hear about Sambora the salsa album that lots of people thought was doomed when it came out and then went on to become a mega hit.

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S7: But first The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is set mainly in New York City but it’s not always thought of as a New York novel like Catcher in the Rye or the age of innocence are. That’s probably because what’s autobiographical about the novel tends to eclipse other aspect of it. Just a month after the bell jar was first published in 1963. Plath killed herself. Since the book is pretty autobiographical and its narrator attempts suicide it can be hard not to read it as a sort of literary suicide. But of course there’s a lot more to the novel. It’s about a young woman from the Boston suburbs who like Plath lands a plum internship guest editing women’s magazine in New York in the summer of 1953. And it does a lot to capture what did and still does go along with trying to make it in New York all the outsized possibilities and outsized disappointments. On this edition of New York icons producer Binoche Ahmed has the story of The Bell Jar.

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S1: I first read The Bell Jar when I was 16 and bored in Ohio dreaming of being a writer and reporter in New York City a lot like Sylvia Plath who won a Golden Ticket to that dream life a summer working at a top women’s magazine.

S8: When Sylvia Plath was at Smith College she went to Guest Editorship to Mademoiselle the magazine brought her and a number of other girls to New York in the summer of 1953.

S1: If you know anything about the bell jar it’s that it’s based on Sylvia Plath s own life when the main character esther greenwood goes back home after that summer. She like Plath attempt suicide is committed to mental institutions and is treated with electroshock therapy. But the bell jar is not just a story of an unstable teenager Plath uses her own story to reflect on the culture she lived in. She lays out that mission right there in the first sentence.

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S9: It was a queer sultry summer the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

S1: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had been convicted of conspiring to sell secrets about the atomic bomb to Soviet spies. That’s a powerful metaphor says novelist Meg Wolitzer.

S10: The beginning the first lines of The Bell Jar. She talks about the execution of the Rosenbergs and then later on the character of Esther Greenwood experiences electroconvulsive therapy and you make the link as a reader about electricity and the terrible time in America which I didn’t live through the Rosenbergs but just the sense of her pain being expressed so beautifully so clearly reading The Bell Jar again now that I am a writer and reporter in New York it felt like a completely different book than the one I remembered one where everything that dazzles about the city also contains some kind of doom.

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S1: From a fancy dinner of crab salad that poisons to a thrilling date that turns violent. I was supposed to be the envy of thousands of other college girls just like me all over America.

S11: Who wanted nothing more than to be tripping about in those same size seven patent leather shoes I’d bought in blooming.

S1: In many ways the 50s were booming fashion magazines capitalized on the end of the austere war and a new prosperity. The ads in those magazines showcased trends like the hourglass silhouette and fitness studios new love of the new look puts on show his summer creations and Taylor tweed suits by Coco Chanel Chanel No No Mademoiselle was one of the biggest magazines in the country at the time and every year promising young women won the chance to put together its annual college issue and novelist Diane Johnson was one of them.

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S12: She joined Plath as a guest editor at Mademoiselle 66 years ago so you can imagine that my memories have faded.

S1: Johnson is 85. She divides her time between Lake Tahoe and Paris but back then like Plath she hadn’t spent much time outside of her small town. Plath came from Wellesley Massachusetts and Johnson from Moline Illinois. The whole experience of urban sophistication and the great world of fashion and magazines and so was extremely shocking and fascinating I guess. A little scary. It was also incredibly busy. The magazine had us schedule from morning till night with thrilling events. Fashion shows and theater performances dinners at high end restaurants and dance parties where Ivy League Boys and crisp white blazers were hired to be their dates.

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S12: Johnson says she and the other young women had been told in advance what to wear for us as we had to wear hats and we could not go without our hats and we were not to wear white shoes. I remember there were other roles like that that they just didn’t want us to look too much like country mice.

S1: Plath had a special role that summer Mademoiselle had named her guest managing editor. You had the idea that it was kind of preordained that she would be.

S12: This person. And so we all have that impression of Sophia that she was kind of the big shop. So we were a little in of her.

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S11: Look what can happen in this country they’d say a girl lives in some out of the way town for 19 years so poor she can’t afford a magazine and then she gets a scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New York like her own private car only I wasn’t steering anything not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolley bus. Get.

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S1: To me. It’s good to meet you as well. Heather Clark is the author of a forthcoming 900 page biography of Plath. I meet up with her and we take a look at the magazine Plath oversaw that summer.

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S13: You know what struck me the first time I looked through this was the number of ads. You just can’t quite believe how many ads are in this magazine. It’s almost page after page and of course fashion spreads to fashion magazines.

S1: So in a back room of the New York Public Library where flipping through a copy of the magazine Clark points out one ad in particular it’s for shape where that’s also sportswear. So this Janssen ad anyone for action anyone for beautiful form and action there is a woman with a Barbie physique wearing a hat and gloves with a bra and girdle as she gets ready to serve in a game of tennis.

S14: This is if we do say positively the most pleasant to wear slimming trimming smoothing soothing figure maker ever devised.

S1: Madam LaSalle had become interested in her after a story she had submitted a year earlier. One it’s national fiction contest. But Clark says that Platt struggled in her role as managing editor. She had wanted to be fiction editor at just 19 years old Plath had already published poems and won awards Mademoiselle published some of the top writers of its day. Dylan Thomas. Tennessee Williams Truman Capote. But instead of selecting and editing short stories Plath wrote fashion blurbs including one praising the versatility of sweaters.

S15: I think Plath found herself suddenly embedded in this in the fashion and beauty industry and she’s become part of this vast propaganda machine that turns women into objects by all green.

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S11: They were promoting it for fall while green with black bio green with white bio green with Niall green. It’s kissing cousin fashion blurbs silver and full of nothing sent up their fishy bubbles in my brain. They surfaced with a hollow pop.

S14: She wanted to be the best writer. She wanted to sew her own clothes she wants to raise honey you want to make her own honey and she just wanted it all.

S1: Can women have it all. It’s a question we’re still asking. It had just started to come up in the 1950s when women who’d done the whole Rosie the Riveter thing during the war were now expected to be homemakers again even though many had thrived in the workforce and developed real professional aspirations.

S12: It was an ongoing discussion within society about whether women could do three things at once.

S16: Diane Johnson got married one month after the Guest Editorship at Mademoiselle this summer had changed her and given her a greater sense of what her life could be. But then she had four children. Within the span of six years so I was home with these little kids. But they had naps and that’s when.

S17: Somebody said Why don’t you write a novel about something that you can do during naptime. You know that’s the way things evolve and I evolved into a novelist because of naptime.

S1: Johnson has since written more than a dozen books and been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in The Bell Jar. Esther Greenwood reflects on her sort of boyfriend a medical student at Yale who everyone told her was such a good guy.

S11: I also remembered buddy Willard saying in a sinister knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently. I wouldn’t want to write poems anymore. So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed. And afterward you went numb as a slave in some private totalitarian state.

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S1: A few years later Plath thought she found a man who would not brainwash her. As a graduate student at Cambridge she met fellow poets Ted Hughes who she married in 1956. Both enjoyed growing reputations as writers when they were interviewed by the BBC is own Leeming in 1961. You wouldn’t have to give the impression that you spend your whole lives thinking up.

S18: Homes and reading them to each other.

S19: I think Mr. Gross is practically indistinguishable from all the people who live around the only main difference is that Ted doesn’t go out to work at night and come home five. He retires about nine into his room and works. But I certainly have a life just like all the other housewives and mothers and on district shopping dishes and taking care of the baby and the for Plath was actually writing the bell jar at the time of that interview.

S1: She alluded to it when she was interviewed again the last year this time by the BBC as Peter or he asks Plath if there are particular themes that she’s interested in exploring and she rambles off this sort of list of ingredients that she’s baked right into the bell jar.

S20: Robert Lowell’s poems about his experiences in a mental hospital for example interest me very much these peculiar private and taboo subjects I feel have been explored in recent American poetry I think particularly of the poets and Sexton who writes also about her experiences as a mother as a mother who’s had a nervous breakdown is an extremely emotional Plath published The Bell Jar under a pseudonym because she was so worried about offending the people she fictionalized as characters in it.

S1: One of those characters was her editor at Mademoiselle who she called J.S. in The Bell Jar. DC asks Esther what she wants to do after college and suddenly she draws a blank.

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S21: Unable to list off all of her ambitions of being a professor and a writer or an editor and a writer I’ve always thought I’d like to go into publishing.

S22: I tried to recover a thread that might lead me back to my old bright salesmanship. I guess what I’ll do is apply at some publishing house. You ought to read French and German. J.C. said mercilessly and probably several other languages as well.

S11: Spanish and Italian better still Russian. Hundreds of girls fled into New York every June thinking they’ll be editors.

S1: J.C. is a tough editor who cuts her down to size in that way. She calls to mind another memorable story said at a women’s magazine in New York.

S23: So you don’t read Runway. No. And before today you had never heard of me. Now you have no style or sense of fashion. Well I think that depends on what. Sure.

S1: No it wasn’t a question that of course is MERYL STREEP As Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada giving a very similar take down to Andy Sachs her would be assistant.

S24: That’s a complete exaggeration.

S1: Anna Wintour is the longtime editor of Vogue and the basis for Miranda Priestly and The Devil Wears Prada is based on a novel by Lauren Weiss Bricker who like Sylvia Plath fictionalized the experiences she had working at a magazine in her case Vogue. This is how Wintour responded to the film in an interview with 60 Minutes.

S24: I mean I guess in response I can only say that I’ve had I have so many people here Molly that I worked with me for 15 20 years.

S25: And you know if I’m such a bitch they must really be a glutton for punishment. Oh yeah. I would use the word.

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S21: One criticism of the bell jar has been how Plath handled race using slurs and stereotypes but her world was mainly a white world. All of the gas editors looked nearly identical in a photo taken of them for the magazine. Every one of them was a white woman in a neat little Bob as the executive editor of Teen Vogue. Samantha mocha Patty is one of the rare women of color in a top position at a national magazine even though she shared the same aspiration as Sylvia Plath Moko party didn’t connect with the bell jar when she read it as part of a women’s studies class in college. That’s because she never dreamed that an opportunity like the bell jar would plop down before her.

S26: Not much about her story was relatable to my own experience and I will say that part of it is like I never even thought that I could have a job in publishing.

S1: LUCCA Patty has made it a point to put a spotlight on the experiences of others who might feel like she did as a young person an outsider looking into the worlds of magazines and models and makeup but not seeing herself reflected back. It’s still a challenge.

S27: Advertising really needs to kind of catch up with some of that diversity right and then I think that we need know for as much as like we try to reflect a certain type of very work young diverse person. There’s this broader industry that hasn’t like fully embraced it right. And so you have both. You know I think in terms of what advertisers look for and what they think is kind of appealing to the American consumer but then you have companies that don’t provide the products that you need right you know we don’t have enough like companies that have extended sizes. We don’t have enough beauty companies that are kind of have the diversity of makeup that we want.

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S1: I show Miku party that Janssen at Plath biographer Heather Clark pointed out to me.

S26: Anyone for tennis anyone for action anyone for beautiful forum in action is this Spanks for tennis.

S1: Her reaction surprises me because all those images from the 1950s of women in girdles and corsets seem so dated. But today we’re buying into the same insecurities just with updated terms. But it’s interesting that you make that connection like this is still with us right.

S26: Absolutely yeah. There’s still Yeah in like kind of intense ways now with you know waist traders and flat tell two years and plastic surgery to create certain silhouettes. I feel that yes that is it’s very much with us today.

S1: Meg Wolitzer The novelist has so much in common with Sylvia Plath that it’s uncanny. Wolitzer also went to Smith College and had early literary success there and she also was a guest editor at Mademoiselle in 1979.

S28: I must say they really gutted the lobby and it was completely different.

S16: We’re standing out side what used to be the bar basin on the Upper East Side. So I loved it. The hotel where both Wolitzer and Clark stayed during their time as guest editors I loved. It’s.

S29: Strange mildewed quality. I love being part of that even as it was a last gasp. We ended up being the last guest editors that they ever had. We were the last crowd because magazines were changing the world was changing.

S30: And New York was changing. The building is now multi-million dollar condos complete with an equinox gym. Just peering and now it’s.

S28: Residents.

S31: But it was a dark lobby not very welcoming and men couldn’t go above the first floor.

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S29: I think unless they were accompanied by a woman I can’t remember exactly but there was a sort of sense of the past. Even then it was like a last vestige of New York that I’d read about in books like The Bell Jar.

S1: For Wolitzer staying in an all women’s hotel with rules like that in 1979 felt like stepping into another era. A lot of those rules had been in place since Platt stayed at the bar basin 25 years earlier. She called it the Amazon.

S11: This hotel the Amazon was for women only and they were mostly girls my age with wealthy parents who wanted to be sure their daughters would be living where men couldn’t get at them and deceive them Wolitzer read the bell jar at the emotionally turbulent age of 13.

S10: Adolescence is a time of firsts. So as an adolescent you were feeling things for the first time. You’re reading them for the first time and you feel often like your head is filled with fire.

S1: When you read somebody else’s experience that you hadn’t understood that feeling is one Wolitzer is set into motion in her young adult novel. Bell jar that’s B L z h a r. The book is set at a boarding school for students who have experienced some sort of emotional trauma. Five students are placed in special topics in English class where their teacher Mrs. Cornell has them read.

S32: Just one writer over the course of the whole semester she reaches below the table and pulls out a stack of five identical books which she passes around. It’s the bell jar.

S1: A student named Mark has the same reaction many people do when he sees it. This is from the audiobook version of Wolitzer his book.

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S32: I know that book he says it’s supposed to be really dark. I think I remember something about the author. He pauses not sure if he should go on. Go ahead Mark. Says Mrs. Cornell. Well he says uneasily I guess she you know killed herself. Is that right. She turned on the gas and put her head in the oven yes. That’s right. No offense says Mark. I’m sure you’re a good English teacher and all but is that appropriate for us the students find the book to be more than appropriate.

S1: The bell jars handling of themes like alienation and depression are all too familiar to them. Wolitzer says that she and the last batch of gas editors felt their own connection to Plath. On the last night of their stay at the bar basin. They climbed up to the roof to honor her. We. Definitely. Said something about flowers. At the hotel. Sort of some kind of.

S29: Summoning her up in a way because I think we were all really aware of her aware of her presence throughout this experience.

S1: As guest editors the moment evoked a passage in the bell jar about Esther’s last night in New York City piece by piece.

S11: I fed my wardrobe to the night wind and fluttering Lee like a loved one’s ashes the gray scraps were ferried off to settle here exactly where I would never know in the dark heart of New York.

S1: Esther throws away all of her clothes after she returns home from a party. Her face is bloodied and her dress is torn from fighting off a man who had attempted to rape her.

S9: Marco set his teeth to the strap at my shoulder and tore my sheath to the waist. I saw the glimmer of bare skin like a pale veil separating two bloody minded adversaries. Slut. The word hissed in my ear. Slut. The dust cleared and I had a full view of the battle. I began to cry then bite Marco weighed me to the earth slut I gouged that his leg with a sharp heel of my shoe. He turned fumbling for the hurt then I fisted my fingers together and smash them at his nose. It was like hitting the steel plate of a battleship. Marco set up.

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S1: I began to cry Esther had a feeling about Marco when she first met him.

S11: I began to see why women haters could make such fools of women women haters were like gods invulnerable and chock full of power. They descended. And then they disappeared you could never catch one.

S1: Until now the meat you movement has led to the fall of so many godlike men. The news might have been welcome to Plath biographer Heather Clark says it’s hard to say if she experienced anything like the attempted rape she described in the bell jar. But Plath did tell friends she went on a bad day during her summer and she did go up to the roof of the bar basin on her last night to toss away her girdles.

S15: And the friend told me it was the woman who was with puff on that night and she she called them waste centers. She said we throw our waste send troops off. And she described them as instruments of torture.

S1: On that last night in the city she threw away their preposterous beauty standards sold by advertisers. There’s social pressure for women to shrink themselves to fit into a man’s world. To pare down their own desires she refused to be an object for the taking by women haters. Plath had only been in the city for less than a month. And yet something had shifted inside of her during that time. Even her mother said so in an interview just after the bell jar was published in England in 1963.

S33: She came home and that was when she had her breakdown. She couldn’t concentrate she couldn’t read. She just wasn’t the same girl brand.

S1: At the end of the summer she swallowed a near lethal dose of sleeping pills.

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S33: When she came to consciousness after her first attempt the first thing she said that was my last act of love.

S1: When I first read The Bell Jar as a 16 year old I couldn’t help but feel envy for Plath at the start. The idea of an unsupervised summer in the city a coveted role at a top magazine a foot wedged firmly in the door of an industry that’s still so hard to break into. Now I can see all the expectations that hung over Plath. Some of them contradictory and many of them issues we still deal with. That’s part of the reason I think this book has.

S15: Held up so well. It’s about a young woman that’s having a nervous breakdown. But. I think if you read between the lines of The Bell Jar there’s always this question of well. Are you sick.

S34: Or did your society make you sick. That story was produced by Binoche Ahmed and mixed by Wayne Shaw Meister Lorraine Mattox read the excerpts from the bell jar.

S6: Salsa fanatics thought siempre was doomed when the album came out on Fania Records in 1978.

S2: The songs were too long.

S35: They bashed American consumerism and roused Latinos to push for social change. But in fact samba became the first salsa record to sell more than a million copies. It’s still probably the best seller in the genre. Just selling reggae style. Has the story of why Sambora was so successful and how it eventually fostered a colossal fight.

S36: How do you make a salsa hit first. You use a British opera from the 18th century about a bank.

S37: Oh.

S38: Then you add the German take on it from 1928 to be it makes a little bit of gains from Panama. Blacks make her go down to prostitute a thief and you have bailed on her beta the blade a song that is more than seven minutes long.

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S39: Length that’s all. But can. You. Get me the.

S40: Union or get one daughter. Guam. Want this one. That guy gets. Paid for Navarre is a thief he’s walking down the street from the opposite direction comes a woman a prostitute they throw stabs her to try to rob her of her purse but she has a gun and even injured she manages to shoot him they both.

S41: Die. This is an encounter between two people and the consequences of the encounter are. Not expected. By.

S42: Any other participants.

S36: Truman blades is a singer songwriter from Panama who rode Pedro Nava mixing all of those influences.

S43: He composed the lyrics and music of all but one song off the album siempre and then at the end of the beneficiary of the somebody else’s disgrace is a drunk who then picks up everything that that he found. Thanks God. And then keeps on walking. Saying that life is full of surprises.

S39: Life keeps you surprises that cars is the perfect analogy for the album’s samba itself. It almost didn’t come out.

S3: I remember that day Jerry my suit. He was a funny president of Fania. He called Willie Valone and myself to his office and he played the record in front of the three top deejays. York deejays the was of bitches and the three of them said that this record. Should not be put out.

S41: Because he would be the commercial death of Willie.

S36: Willie Colon was the big star on the album at the time raised in the Bronx. Colon was a radio salsa institution as a trombone player and he had more than a dozen records under his belt Sambora was his second collaboration with Ruben Blades and on the album he did not play the trombone. He was the producer Willie cologne.

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S43: At the time was a proven seller. He was very famous and established. If Willie Colon had not been on this record it could have been put away by the time Sambora came out salsa was a big phenomenon in New York City. The rhythm was born in Latino neighborhoods like this one east Harlem.

S44: When my parents came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico they both lived here and they met at a party here.

S39: Morales is a music critic and author of several books including Latin next the new force in American politics and culture.

S44: He says salsa was born here and in the Bronx as different immigrants met in New York in particular Puerto Ricans Cubans and African-Americans and they’ve formed a kind of a melting pot among themselves which was part of the creation of a Latino identity in New York and the Latino identity New York has always been more diverse than other Latino populations of different cities like for instance in the West Coast were dominated by Mexicans and Central Americans. That melting pot led to lots of music mixes in the late 50s came Mambo which combine jazz with Cuban rhythms.

S39: In 1959 Cuba had its revolution. The last point I thought be was the cultural relations between US and Cuba chilled.

S45: And they began to lack access to all of this Cuban music that was coming. So then they were forced to try to make their own kind of music that first kind of music they made was Boogaloo. Amy. I. Been.

S46: Yes. That’s the song that Cardi B sample. Is I like dumb. I like studied. I like.

S47: But I digress.

S39: In the 60s salsa mixed all of those rhythms with a little bit of rock and added a very important instrument. The trombone. They wanted to create the sound and the trombones sounds. Kind of.

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S44: Not as pleasant. It reflected the difficult reality of Latin immigrants at the time. And Eddie Palmieri had the idea of using two trombones and putting in the front.

S39: By the time Ruben Blades moved to New York salsa was booming. His family left Panama because of political issues and he already had a law degree then. But in New York his diploma was worthless. Blades had recorded songs before. So he called up a contact he had at funny records.

S43: Can I go there and saying or write for you. And they said no we don’t need you. And then right before I hung up I said Do you have anything there. And then he said. There’s a job in the mailroom that it just opened today.

S36: He took that job once their blades found his way into writing and recording songs turbine blades was 30 years old when he recorded Sambora. It was his third album. The record was so different that you test the waters he says funnier records started promoting Sambora abroad first in places like Venezuela Mexico Puerto Rico. The album became.

S43: A smash. I mean the Beatles size type of. Success abroad.

S36: It was the first salsa album to become really successful outside of New York City.

S42: And that’s because Ruben Blades was talking should the whole region that had never been done in that way. On a on a popular record at the time nobody talked about Latin America. Things were about anybody in the neighborhood maybe Puerto Rico. But you weren’t addressing Latin America as a whole. And the fact that we are Latino we had a minority I mean who not go in that to Latino if an auto. You know don’t exchange your dignity for for material things.

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S48: Latin friend brother had a model that was that have not been presented in that context before so many people identify with it.

S36: Latin America was going through big political turmoil that might be breaking down that many countries like my native Brazil were under military dictatorships. The political songs of samba spoke to them and their success abroad pushed the album Back To The New York airwaves. Percussionist composer and music professor Bobby Sanabria was studying music in college. Then he grew up in the Bronx and he says it was an exciting time for salsa.

S49: There was a lot of competition there were about 100 bands performing in the tri state area and competition breeds what excellence in terms of Rubin he pushed that envelope with supreme lyricism and thank God he did. And as Willy as a producer of very innovative as well nobody gives him the credit that he should rightly deserve. Very innovative in his production techniques mixing techniques. So he’s the other half of the secret to that album.

S36: So nobody remembers listening to somebody for the very first time when the album came out in 1978. He was surprised to find himself drawn to the words as a musician usually you pay attention to the music first.

S49: When I opened up the album so I started paying attention to the lyrics and as a new Eureka. My Spanish was not the best. You made that film DoCoMo this thing. That means he can get by but it was like it just was like Shakespearean poetry on wax.

S36: Another thing that struck sonata right away about Sambora was the beginning of the first track. He was a disco beat so somebody was a subset of.

S50: Those little band. It was all just going to be a subtle. SIMON o say wait a minute wait a minute. They might have even said Hey what is this. You know maybe I bought the wrong album here a disco beat and then all of a sudden it breaks into a mumbled whatever rhythm.

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S51: And he starts talking about what the song is about. About. The phoniness of many times that we take upon of ourselves when we go out to the nightclub and just go out to a party where we should be thinking about what’s happening around us with the government how they’re exploiting us. When they meet at the. Plastic or.

S39: Plastic or means plastic it’s a song that is critical about the cult of appearance and consumerism.

S36: Not a topic of your typical salsa most hits were about love lust having a good time but the audience went crazy.

S52: In Venezuela. One time they were they were like they were almost knock the bus over when we got to the stadium.

S36: Pop Vasquez is a trombone player who was part of the recording and touring of samba in conscious in Mexico.

S52: People asking you to sign the T-shirts is crazy. It was a high high moment in Latin music.

S53: See the beautiful thing about that music was that what you heard on the record is what you were going to get when you go see the band. It was as organic you get because you have the same instrumentation that’s playing on the recording. It’s in a play like. Yoko’s must come the way Abba is also one of the most popular songs on the album.

S39: It literally means searching for a fruit. But it’s not really about a fruit. It’s about itching wanting something more.

S36: It’s one of the most danceable songs on the record and it used to be a favorite for cultural critic. Catalina Gonzalez but I think that. Today in 2019 My favorite is the title song.

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S54: Yeah. Because you know I started getting all philosophical about it and you know the idea of look at the seeds that you are planting and you will you know and you’ll see what comes up. You know be careful of the seeds that you plant and you will see what comes up. I mean right now that hits really hard you know in both senses both in the sense of. All the terrible things that are happening are from seeds that have been planted for a long time but also how we’re gonna get out of that is going to come from seeds that we are planting and that we have to nurture. On. This. And. Get back. With. I. Love.

S39: Gonzalez says Sam.

S55: But I also created a blueprint for future generations of Latin musicians of how do you take these thoughtful philosophical intellectual ideas that have you know a thought of social justice but also integrate it with different genres that are more populist or popular. And so once Rubén and Willie said that blueprint it’s been a lot easier for other people to follow. So like I mean anybody like I’ve had to go work I get that essay or Hooli at the Venegas or anybody like that. They’re all following this playbook. So. When. I. Say. Good bye. Good.

S56: Bye. It won’t be nice seeing that ruined C.D. got you. Is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

S57: Yeah. We’re going to see everything. That’s LBC. Got a. Good job and go by land. Mini.

S39: Turbine blades recorded this song grew a parallel with the popular Puerto Rican group Kiryat 3c. In 2008. He released part of the group. She says recording with blades was like working with an uncle because she grew up listening to samba to a home and I loved that album.

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S58: It’s part of the I don’t know this outside culture a Ruemmler this was someone that changed the perspective of salsa I think and it gave a different message and Buddy was something that we need to hear that we needed to hear and it’s something that he has also a lot to do with with nowadays. Like older songs that they were sending their own message from their own time but you hear it nowadays and they have a connection as well. So that album is My has also a Jonah say I don’t know how to say that in English but majestic Mavi Ely also has a solo career as a singer songwriter and she says her political songs are inspired by the message of Scimitar here in Puerto Rico that is a small island. You feel the emptiness a lot more so it frustrates me and makes me sad as well to feel that people are indifferent to reacting.

S36: And now we need reaction and we need each other a lot more similar not only instigated Latinos to push for social change but it also catapulted the political careers for both Willie cologne and Rubin blades cologne run for U.S. Congress and for New York public advocate in the 90s. He lost both elections and ended up serving as an adviser to Mayor Bloomberg. Ruben Blades was even more ambitious after graduating from Harvard Law School in the 80s. He ran for president of Panama in 1994 but he lost that as well. Then a decade later he was appointed that country’s minister of tourism. He says it was his success that pushed him into politics.

S43: You know what happens is that there’s a contradiction that arose in my life. I mean on the one hand I am doing music and singing a lot. People were having difficulties social. Economic difficulties and in the process I became a wealthy person and there was a contradiction there because all of a sudden now I’m singing about Bono Bono but I’m not him anymore. In the sense that I can choose he can’t.

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S36: He’s thinking about another run in Panama may be 2024. The album’s Sambora also changed the relationship between Ruben Blades and Willie Cologne when the record came out. Cologne was the most famous of the two but with Sambora blades became a huge star and he has since won 17 Grammys between regular and Latin Grammys. He also became a doctor and has done many films and TV shows that success drove cologne and blades apart and they ended up in tangled into legal disputes that turned him from friends to focus on the 25th anniversary of Sambora. They did a concert together in Puerto Rico but weren’t paid what they expected. Cologne sued blades claiming he had kept some of his money. Kahlon declined to be interviewed for this story but he eventually dropped the lawsuit. Blades says that battle ruined their relationship.

S43: I think he’s one of the best producers that business has ever known says business. And he’s got a great sense of humor and he’s you know he’s a one of the icons.

S42: Other than that I don’t wanna work with him anymore and I will never work with him again.

S36: Forty one years after Sambora was released so some no longer dominates the Latin music charts. That’s all about reggaeton hip hop pop but salsa is still a popular dance form in concerts draw a large crowd like a recent Salsa Festival at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

S59: I like salsa because it makes my heart beat faster. I said that that’s that’s a good thing though cause the music just make your body go one of those attending the concert is salsa families said Alvarado.

S39: She’s in her 20s but she says she loves songs from the 70s and there’s no question about what her favorite.

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S59: Yes yes.

S60: Martin has been. Oh I lost my nose to nose bones just this all go.

S40: Back and I’ll say it. And one day just jam a. Whole. SONG. SONG.

S2: ALL DAY. There may. Be somebody that’s road blues but just sell a record Tao reproduction help from Studio 360 Sandra Lopez Monique Salomon. New York icons are made possible by a grant from the booth Ferris foundation and you can find our other new york icons at Studio 360 dot com what that is and that’s it for today’s show Studio 360 is a production of PR Public Radio International in association with Slate. The members of our production team are Jocelyn Gonzalez into Adam Newman. Sandra Lopez runs out of Avenue Chung Lauren Hansen. Sam Kim. Zoe Saunders Tommy Boy’s area. Morgan Flannery and I’m Kurt Andersen. Nobody gives them the credit that he should rightly deserve thanks very much for listening. Are. Public Radio.

S4: International. Next time on Studio 360. We have this attitude about the old Downer Willa Cather never smiling and just thinking about Pioneer ladies all the time.

S21: The unjust way that the Great American Novelist Willa Cather gets short shrift it seems like she sort of was purposefully left out of the canon and I don’t understand it because she’s amazed at the underappreciated greatness of Cathy’s novel.

S61: My Antonia that’s next time on Studio 360.