He Speaks In Tongues #1: Migala – Instrucciones Para Dar Cuerda A Un Reloj

26 01 2009

Migala - Restos de un incendioBecause I’ve spent the last few years of my life studying other languages, a lot of the songs I’ve come to love aren’t in English, which I realize is a barrier to a lot of the people with whom I like to share music. So I’ve decided to start a new series where I post songs in Spanish or French along with translations of the lyrics in the hopes of convincing you that these songs are worth your time.

Julio CortázarThis first track, “Instrucciones para dar cuerda a un reloj” (“Instructions for Winding a Watch”) is a piece recorded by Madrid-based Migala using a recording of my favorite author, Julio Cortázar, reading the preamble to a short prose piece of his of the same name. Cortázar, whose short stories play with the unities of time and space, and whose best known novel, Rayuela (Hopscotch in translation), involves reading and rereading the same passages in different orders according to detailed instructions, uses fantasy and allegory to draw out the hidden economies behind the apparent banality of everyday life. The low register of his voice and his grave delivery are given depth by Migala’s atmospheric guitars, in a simple post-rock style whose most recognizable reference point today is probably Friday Night Lights regulars Explosions in the Sky.

Migala, “Instrucciones para dar cuerda a un reloj” (Download) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/instrucciones-para-dar-cuerda-a-un-r1.mp3″

Preámbulo a las instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj.

Preamble to the instructions for winding the watch.

Piensa en esto: cuando te regalan un reloj te regalan un pequeño infierno florido, una cadena de rosas, un calabozo de aire. No te dan solamente el reloj, que los cumplas muy felices y sí esperamos que te dure porque es de buena marca, suizo con áncora de rubíes; no te regalan solamente ese menudo picapedrero que te atarás a la muñeca y pasearás contigo.

Think about this: when someone gives you a watch as a gift, they give you a flowery little hell, a chain made of roses, a prison cell made of air. They do not give you just a watch, may you have a happy birthday and, yes, we hope it lasts you because it’s a good brand, Swiss with a ruby clasp; they do not give you just that minute piece of stonework that you will tie to your wrist and carry around with you.

Te regalan -no lo saben, lo terrible es que no lo saben-, te regalan un nuevo pedazo frágil y precario de ti mismo, algo que es tuyo pero no es tu cuerpo, que hay que atar a tu cuerpo con su correa como un bracito desesperado colgándose de tu muñeca. Te regalan la necesidad de darle cuerda todos los días, la obligación de darle cuerda para que siga siendo un reloj; te regalan la obsesión de atender a la hora exacta en las vitrinas de las joyerías, en el anuncio por la radio, en el servicio telefónico.

They give you – they don’t know it, the terrible thing is that they don’t know it – they give you a fragile and precarious new piece of yourself, something that is yours but is not your body, that you have to tie to your body with your strap like a hopeless little arm hanging itself from your wrist. They give you the need to wind it every day, the obligation to wind it so that it keeps on being a watch; they give you an obsessive need to pay attention to the exact hour in the shop windows of jewelers, in the commercial on the radio, in the phone service.

Te regalan el miedo de perderlo, de que te lo roben, de que se te caiga al suelo y se te rompa. Te regalan su marca, y la seguridad de que es una marca mejor que las otras, te regalan la tendencia de comparar tu reloj con los demás relojes. No te regalan un reloj, tú eres el regalado, a ti te ofrecen para el cumpleaños del reloj.

The give you the fear that you might lose it, that it might be stolen from you, that it might fall to the floor and break. They give you its brand, and the certainty that it is a better brand than the others, they give you the tendency to compare your watch with other watches. They don’t give you a watch, you are the one given as a gift, they offer you yourself for the watch’s birthday.

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One response

5 02 2009
Jason N.

Thanks so much for this post…

I’m a big Migala fan with only a poorly-taught high school background in Spanish. A translation or two turning up on the Internet is one of the best things I could hope to find.

I always translated this title as (approximately) “Instructions for caring for a watch.” Thanks for clearing this and the lyrics up.

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