Philipe'-Cuernavaca-Mexico, 1988

Wayne Cook

Joined August 2008

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Artist's Description

A drum beat out of sync
A guitar one fret too low,
The life of a man,
Looking through the window,
Not able to enter the door,
Singing notes not written,
Yet he followed his own way,
Now, he peers at God,
Wondering, if he strayed,
What forgiveness lies,
Untaken at the altar,
What atonement would we need,
A moment, maybe more,
Petitioning of the Love of God,
Focused on his wounded soul

Philipe has played in this band for nearly five years, his staccato strumming, on this miniature charanga, like attacks on an over strung ukulele. Barely enough board for the sound to flow, and I wondered as I watch him play, if this was the sole output of his wishing soul, for that ounce of recognition, playing alongside the altar with his band friends. Was he content with the meager pesos of bar tips for the four young men, to repeat the wheezing sounds of traditional and old Mexican folk tunes? It must be hard to bring all ten strings into harmony with the guitar, but he played with gusto, if not precision, his whanging strikes on the chorded fret board, reminiscent of old black and white movies on VHF TV in the 70’s, bought up by cable channels for space fillers.

The song finished, he faded into the standing crowd, and I saw him once or twice, clutching his instrument, slightly out of tune. The band appeared to be simply from Cuernavaca somewhere, and had parked their Volkswagen Van, in the dirt aside the block wall of the church. His sandled feet were in place with the Sunday dress of the remainder of the church crowd, but his manner seemed a little off to one side, like a jazz guitarist trying to play church music in an agonizing liturgical setting, its Bensonesque runs, in contrast to the whining notes of the pump organ.

Philipe’s world is a lot in that way, uncomfortable and irreconcilable differences, which are beyond his energy or know-how to change. He’s following the famous virtual footsteps of Besame Mucho, penned by Consuelo Velazquez, who had never been kissed herself, upon writing this lovely song.

I watched him intermittently, as he talked to girl after girl, all of whom, seemed uninterested in his entreaties. I supposed that he was asking to perform at a home party, whilst the Father was intoning the ritual of sacraments, behind the marble table, at the front of the church, lit by the yellow glass, behind him, its triangular shape loosely framing the crucifix to which I directed my own oblations, whilst the crowd murmured the ritual in response to the priest.

Philipe makes no attempt to follow the steps, and moves on and out the gate, toward his van.

Artwork Comments

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