One of the first Uruguayan singers I listened to was Jorge Drexler. He was introduced to me by my friend Camilo back when we were trying to do Spanish and English exchanges. Then when I decided I needed to pretty much go back to the basics and enrolled in my Spanish emersion class, he was introduced to me again. Finally, he became a staple with my current Spanish teacher, Marisa. Drexler’s songs are really tranquil, which makes the lyrics much easier to understand then say Maluma. Although his words are at times poetic and full of nuance that I cannot even begin to understand, I really fell in love with his sound. Plus, he is kind of adorable in a silver fox kind of way!
Fun Fact: He won the Academy Award for his song Al Otro Lado del Rio, featured in The Motorcycle Diaries, making him the very first Uruguayan to do so.
Tavis asked me if I wanted a ticket to go see Drexler months and months in advance. I was still well into my chemo, but the concert was scheduled for almost three weeks after my last chemo. So I said, “Heck yeah!” It would be a poignant Uruguayan gift to myself. It was on a Tuesday, so I would have to figure out where I could catch up on the missed sleep, but Drexler was like an Uruguay bucket list item for me. Worth it!
Chemo was finished, Mom was back home, and our Drexler date had finally arrived. Tavis, Diego, and I headed for some yummy Korean food first. We don’t have much Asian in Uruguay, but we certainly have some authentic Korean. I think we were the only non-Koreans in the place. We got our fill of flavorful food and then headed right down the street to the Auditorio Nacional. It is a gorgeous building where we also saw Herbie Hancock.
I am sure there was an opener, but I simply cannot remember. I was still a little chemo brained. But when Drexler came out and started doing all of this cool shit with basic instrument sounds and subtle lights, I was hooked. The auditorium erupted with applause. Clearly his songs are well-liked, as indicated by the woman who sat behind us singing rather loudly. I almost turned around and commented that I had not paid money to hear her sing, but then thought about myself and a Billy Joel concert. Drexler is kind of a national icon, so I gave her an out. But I did grimace and turn my head ever so slightly to indicate my annoyance every time she got a little too loud to be socially acceptable for a sit-down concert.
Drexler did some really cool sounds with a pendulum and even his own breath, these panels of light behind him to compliment his intention. And he is old school. He talks with the audience and tells stories before moving on to the next song. There was even some audience interaction. All and all, I was pretty impressed.
And then…I fell asleep. No really, I fell into a full head bobbing on an airplane sleep. It was a bit chilly so my arms were comfortably folded under my coat, which was draped over me. Plus Drexler’s sound is a bit chill anyway. And in true Uruguayan fashion, the concert started at 9:00. Oh, and I still recovering from six months of chemo. I will at least let myself have that cancer excuse. But I paid 2500 pesos to take a Drexler nap. I was awake for about 35% of the concert. And the worst part is that even if I was offered money to stay awake, my poor little brain said nope! Not even three weeks of recovery could make up for six months of early to bed cancer fatigue. Sorry, Jorge. Maybe next time, buddy.
But other fun fact: Before dropping it for music, Drexler actually studied and became a doctor, specializing in ear, nose and throat, so there is a little part of me that thinks he understood.