The exhibition “LETTERS TO THE MAYOR” asked us to write a letter to ADA COLAU, the mayor of Barcelona. We would have loved to put this song by ELLIOTT SMITH in the envelope as well. This is the letter we sent…
It was one of those few hot days that every Belgian summer provides. My brothers and I were throwing balloons full of water in the garden, making a lot of noise. Too much for our poor grandfather who was in charge of us and tried to have a little nap in the shade of the Weeping Willow. I was the one who shouted the most, so he asked me to come over and put me in his lap. In a very low voice he asked me please to not make so much noise. He told me that screaming is never necessary. And that the most important words of my life would whispered in my ear, not shouted. He smiled at me, gave me a pat on the bottom and then let me keep playing. Time has proven him right: those words whispered under that old tree have accompanied me my whole life.
For a beautifully mad adventure like founding a record label you need deep roots. And we chose granddad’s words to be the foundation of our small company Son Canciones. The both of us have always felt the need for more intimacy in life, culture and music. We have always liked small things that are proud to be so. We try to reflect that need in everything we do. And, truthfully, Barcelona has always allowed us to be small. We both arrived here in search of opportunities and joy that we could not find in Galicia or Belgium. We needed to shake off melancholy and routine. Very soon we realized that we had chosen the right destination. Barcelona has given us innumerable opportunities and small corners where to enjoy intimacy. It was always a big city that welcomed us with small arms. It inspired us, it emboldened us and it pushed us forward. But, and we say this without wanting to sound like victims, it is not always easy to choose for the small side of things. And in our experience it is become less and less so. Just like the fancy juice bar full of tourists has swallowed our favorite bar on the corner and the clothing chain has replaced the small neighborhood store where before we bought the world’s best tomatoes, ‘big’ culture is always on the prowl. Huge speakers sound a lot louder than small ones. Our daily struggle is against monopolies and cronyism, the two great pillars of mass culture.
Sometimes we start dreaming… We would like to live in a city where everyone has the same opportunities. A city that goes against the current of these times, filled with so much screaming and grandiloquence. A city that boasts of the small. A city that gives the microphone to people who really have something to tell. A city where talent is rewarded, not the number of contacts in your agenda or the passport you carry. A city that pushes small alternative initiatives instead of being pulled away by macro-events. A Barcelona that does not scream but whispers.
If this letter were a conversation, we would say everything in a very low voice. Just like granddad would have liked it.
Best regards, and the best of luck in your great task,
Mabel Alonso & Lieven Scheerlinck