Great thanks to Feña, Sylvia, and Lichi. Also to all the people at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley who have not only kept the spirit and music of Chile alive for all these years, but have made La Peña into one of the most important cultural centers in the U.S.
The recording of the concert with Inti Illimani and myself was made in 1984, at a time when we had neither the capacity nor the desire to tweak our music to auditory perfection—good, bad, flat, and sharp notes all made their way on to the recordings. Other artists were able to afford the time and money to make fixes but we had to live with the notes we sang. Listening back today, I am quite impressed by how well we did! I encourage the next generation to hold on to craft and not to lean too heavily on the machines of perfection. Find your own notes and sing them as they are meant to be sung.
Of the two live concerts on this reissue that Inti Illimani and I did together, one was in a large concert hall and the second in a small and intimate music club. The audiences at both were terrific, inspiring us to rise to our best. We had only one day of rehearsal and it is a testimony to the musicianship of Inti Illimani that we so quickly got to the essence of these songs.
As for me, I must have been fearless or in a heightened state of denial. I had invited this ensemble to tour with me in the U.S. fully aware that the tour would make no money. Not only that, I had agreed to sing without my trusty pianist and to sing several songs in Spanish!! What was I thinking? I didn't even speak Spanish!
But now, over 20 years later, as I listen, I hear the spirit and energy of the collaboration and my ear forgives all the little shaky places, the mispronounced words. I get to the meaning, the essence of the tour, which was meant to gather the progressive forces in my country and feed the solidarity movement so it might continue the work of cutting off funds to Pinochet and other dictators in Latin America. The work was to make very public the violence and torture, to bring world attention to “the disappeared.” This same work goes on today; one example is in Columbus, Georgia where activists gather every year to protest at the School of the Americas—the site where our government trains the future dictators and torturers of our world.