Goodbye, Pau, thank you for the smiles
Pau Donés, the vocalist of Jarabe de Palo, died from the cancer he had been living with since 2015.
Jarabe de Palo's music has a vocation to make people smile. Few groups and few singers have dedicated themselves so systematically to making music about how simple and great life is.
Pau Donés, the vocalist, insisted on this during the five years he lived with cancer, that he worked to be well and help finance cancer research.
Today the family of Donés, announced that the singer had died, thanked the medical team of the Catalan hospitals that attended him and asked for respect for his privacy.
He was born in Barcelona on October 11, 1966. At the age of fifteen he began playing with his brother, Marc, in a group that would first be called J. & Co. Band and later Dentaduras Postizas ("Dentures"). At sixteen he lived through his mother's suicide and when he commented on it in interviews he assumed it with the determination with which he defended his radical freedom and love of being alive.
"That gives you a lesson in life," he said in an interview with Pia Podcast in 2018, "and that is that today you are here, tomorrow you are not. So you choose: I want to be here. Well, then take advantage of it. And if you don't want to, there you go, it's okay. We make a lot of trouble about life, when life is very easy. If you wake up in the morning and you're alive, that's already a great luck. Then come on, pa'lante."
In 1996 La Flaca came out, the first album by Jarabe de Palo, the band that would make him famous, with which he would travel for more than twenty years and with which he would reach millions of people.
La Flaca was followed by eleven more albums, Depende (1998) and Bonito (2003), the ones that sounded the most and that spread their freedom, love for simple things, their willingness to attend to different perspectives.
His 2018 album, Jarabe Filarmónico, was recorded with the Costa Rican Philharmonic Orchestra, reinterpreting more well-known songs - La Flaca, El lado oscuro, Dos días en la vida, Depende, Agua, etc. The arrangements of this album are an achievement, with a mix of Latin American rhythms -chacha chá, son, tango- jazz, rock and symphonic arrangements that take advantage of all the possibilities that such a large orchestra offers.
In 2015 he was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery. A year later he announced that he had recovered, but in 2017 he had a relapse. Even so, that year he toured and published his album 50 palos and the book of the same name in which he recounted his life.
During the following years he spoke very openly about the disease, about the fear it causes, which tends to keep people silent. He took part in charity concerts to raise funds for cancer research, never ceased to tell the reasons he had for feeling lucky and insisted to the end that life is the present.
His song Humo shows such a degree of detachment from everything that it is a farewell to the idea of the future, of the one who only thinks of the present with those he loves because he knows that death is looking at his face and he is smiling.
Ahora, que solo el ahora
Es lo único que tengo
Ahora, que solo me queda
Esperar a que llegue la hora
Ahora, que ya no me importa
Que la vida se vista de negro
Porque a nada le tengo miedo
Porque a nada le tengo fe
Abrázame fuerte amor te lo ruego
Por si esta fuera la última vez
(Now, that only the present
It's the only thing I have
Now, that I only have left
Waiting for the time to come
Now, that I don't care anymore
Let life be dressed in black
Because I'm not afraid of anything
Because I have no faith in anything
Hold me tight love I beg you
In case this was the last time)
On May 26 Jarabe de Palo released Tragas o escupes, the last album Donés recorded. In those songs he continued to reaffirm his love for life, his obstinacy to make music with a smile, he thanked the doctors who took care of him, the years of playing with the band and fourteen days later he passed away.