After rediscovering a compilation of his music, I dedicate this post to the legacy of Simón Díaz or Tío Simón, one of Venezuela’s most cherished figures and one of Latin America’s most influential musicians. Díaz was born in 1928 (he turned 83 in August) and recorded his first songs in 1963, going on to release more than 70 albums spanning a career of nearly sixty years.
Credited with reviving the traditional cowboy music of the llanos (the vast grassland spanning Venezuela and into Colombia), his breathtaking voice and his tonada songwriting talent has spread far and wide, influencing musicians like Caetano Veloso, Roberto Torres, Mercedes Sosa, Julio Iglesias and Joan Miguel Serrat.
More recently, Díaz’s legacy can be found in the music of American/Venezuelan ‘New Weird America’ folklorist Devendra Banhart, who included Díaz’s tonada ‘Luna de Margarita’ on his 2005 album Cripple Crow.
Banhart has stated that upon discovering Díaz’s songs his opinion on Venezuelan music and his approach to his Latin American roots changed completely : ‘I discovered the magic, the poetry and the culture that exist there’.
We end with a bit of trivia and, more importantly, some music. Trivia: Diaz’s most famous song ‘Caballo Viejo’ was used as the base for The Gypsy King’s super-hit, ‘Bamboleo’! Music: Here are some of Díaz’s songs, as interpreted by the man himself: