Sunday, January 16

The musical thread of Almudena Grandes

Last Monday thousands of people came to the cemetery to say goodbye to Almudena Grandes. In his last goodbye “Wedding nights” sounded. Arrived here, we can draw a sentimental thread whose defining moment is the song that Joaquín Sabina sings with Chavela Vargas; a sad goodbye to a thread whose origin places us many years ago, when Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio sang “A contratiempo”, a song that served as the soundtrack for the film of the same title.

Sabina, books and roses in the last goodbye to Almudena Grandes

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Because in the beginning of everything it was the cinema. Years before The ages of Lulu became one of the reference novels of the time, Almudena Grandes would appear in a kind of road movie of an intellectual tone where, in addition to the writer, Juan Cueto and Carlos Boyero also appeared. Contrary to what happens with good movies, the movie Setback it was far from cinematic magic. If he ever approached her —to cinematographic magic— it was thanks to the appearance of Almudena Grandes, who appeared in the movie as a posh archaeologist.

The song that gives the film its title was signed by Agustín García Calvo, and Chicho sang it with all his vocals, denouncing the arrival of Colón to forests that today are made of cement. They were other times, times in which everything was yet to be defined; times when the financial capitalism of this country was preparing to make us believe that the PSOE was a left-wing party. And with these sleight of hand, while some thugs were given the chance to make movies, Chicho sang with all his social conscience burning his red throat.

Many people knew Almudena Grandes from that movie in which she shone like a gold nugget among a pile of junk. Years later, Almudena would win the Vertical Smile award for The ages of Lulu, a novel where the protagonist is a woman who discovers the variants of sex as the years go by; a text where a Freudian structure underlies each of the love affairs.

The novel was an unparalleled success. Until then, it was unthinkable for a woman to reach the top of the best-seller lists. Moreover, Almudena Grandes’s novel was decisive for the summer of love to explode during the solstice of 89. acid house nor about the scratch; here, the aphrodisiac were the different ages of Lulu during that summer whose memory brings sandy nights and bodies tangled in the venereal light of the moon.

The novel was made into a film by Bigas Luna, and it featured Oscar Ladoire in a leading role; yes, the same actor who directed in his day Setback. He also had a brief, but intense appearance, the good old Javier Bardem, doing it in the style of Nacho Vidal years before Nacho Vidal existed.

There are vital routes where the initiatory moments are synchronized with the final moments, it happens in such a way that it seems like a thing of witchcraft. In this way, Setback and Wedding nights are the two songs that will serve as the soundtrack to show us the moment of origin and the final moment of a writer who will remain for the remains in the collective imagination of this country. Because Almudena was the writer of memory; the woman who taught a people that without memory it is impossible to conquer the distance.