The boy from Poble Sec, by Joan Tapia

Joan Manuel Serrat has told Juan Cruz that, after the long inactivity caused by the pandemic, wants to say goodbye to the stage next year -when he will turn 78- with a tour that will begin in the spring in New York and that will end at Sant Jordi in Barcelona before Christmas. Serrat, number 13 of ‘El Setze Jutges’, the group of singer-songwriters that emerged in the late Franco period (1965) and promoted by Miquel Porter, who embodied the democratic and Catalan protest against the dictatorship, He has accompanied us since then and has been a protagonist and a testimony of the cultural and political life of Catalonia and Spain.

For all this, he was one of the first awarded by EL PERIÓDICO with the title of ‘Catalan of the Year’ in 2004. Serrat is for many Catalans of my generation the faithful reflection of an entire era. But his great merit is that he has managed to cross borders and generations and that he continues to be one of the most appreciated singer-songwriters in many countries.

The first time I saw and heard him was at Law School, spring 1966, shouting “now that I’m twenty”. A song of rebellion in a recital at a university that wanted to be heard. I also remember him -many years later in June 2006- at a dinner with his wife, Candela, in the House of Leopoldo Rodés -they were also Narcís Serra, Antonio Franco and Vidal-Folch– a few hours after Pasqual Maragall announced that he would not run for reelection. Serrat spoke little and listened more. Was that resignation the great stumbling block of the alternative to Pujol’s Catalonia? The great divisions that would come later and in which Serrat – firmly, but without any hysteria – clearly stated that There was a lot of Catalan Catalan for which independence was not a dream.

But the Serrat who in 1968 provoked the wrath of the Franco regime by rebelling against not being able to sing in Catalan the famous “La, la, la & rdquor; later popularized by Massiel, later became maybe the most universal Catalan of the 20th century. That twenty-something who listened to Josep Espar Ticó, the furrier from La Siberia and Edigsa shareholder, imploring him on his knees not to sing in Spanish in Eurovision Later, due to his great effort and professionalism, he became a singer-songwriter who, in addition to Catalonia, triumphed throughout Spain, Latin America (in Argentina they call him ‘El Nano’) and many other countries with songs like “Mediterráneo & rdquor; and the albums about Antonio Machado and Miguel Hernández, two of the great republican poets.

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Perhaps vital optimism, empathy, the ability to sing accompanied -without divism- and the willingness to join the causes that he believed deserved support is one of the characteristics of this son of a humble and retaliated family from Poble Sec to which we have seen performing alongside many other singers. From Joaquin Sabina (last time on Christmas 2019, shortly before the pandemic) until Josep Carreras in his tender and famous “paraulas d´amor & rdquor; in 1992.

That his last tour opens in New York, goes to Latin America, stops in Madrid and closes in Barcelona reveals the prestige and the world projection of this “citizen of Catalonia” that he prepares his goodbye concerts well, but hopefully he continues to compose and record some other album. As he told Jordi Bianciotto, “If you stop pedaling, you fall off the bike & rdquor ;. Serrat can no longer show his 10 years, but “he doesn’t have a dead soul and he still boils his blood”.

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