Illapu’s Soaring, Poignant “Vuelvo Para Vivir”
The members of Illapu, a Chilean folk and Andean music group, went into exile in 1981 to escape the oppression of the Pinochet regime. Seven years later, the group returned to their homeland, and in 1991 they released the first studio album since their return, titled Vuelvo amor… Vuelvo vida.
The first song on this album is the exquisite Vuelvo Para Vivir (I come back to live), which is simultaneously a triumphant anthem of homecoming and a hymn for those who yearn for a home to which they cannot return. The upbeat tempo and soaring harmonies belie the song’s lyrics, which reveal the grief and restlessness of exile while also celebrating the joy of returning home – even if home is a place still suffering oppression and injustice.
Vuelvo a casa, vuelvo compañera.
Vuelvo mar, montaña, vuelvo puerto.
Vuelvo sur, saludo mi desierto.
Vuelvo a renacer, amado pueblo.
- I return home; I return, companion.
I return, sea, mountain; I return, port.
I return, south; I greet my desert.
I return to be reborn, beloved people.
Vuelvo, amor vuelvo. A saciar mi sed de ti
Vuelvo, vida vuelvo, a vivir en ti país.
- I return, love, I return. To quench my thirst for you.
I return, life, I return, to live in you, my country.
Bajo el rostro nuevo de cemento,
Vive el mismo pueblo de hace tiempo,
Esperando siguen los hambrientos,
Más justicia, menos monumentos.
- Under the new cement face
Lives the same town that has ever been;
The hungry are still waiting:
More justice, fewer monuments.
Music is a fundamental way of sharing the human experience, and Illapu’s beautiful arrangements and haunting lyrics help bring a period of Chilean history to life.