Anna: You have a new season of La Brega for us to enjoy, and I wanna talk a little bit about it because it's such a good listen! You are Alana Casanova-Burgess. We have been longtime colleagues at WNYC Studios.
Alana: We really have.
Anna: And you are the creator, host, um, spiritual guide for La Brega, which has been, uh, had season one and, and came out with a lot of critical acclaim. Season two is now here, and you've brought together all kinds of reporters, writers, musicians, to make this, this podcast season. And this season explores that idea of music as a key part of our identity formation and a key part of the ways that we gather around music and find collective identity together. And I wanna be clear for you, um, for you and your Puerto Ricanness, like how has music played a role in you understanding that for you?
(end of theme for La Brega)
Alana: Yeah, I think growing up in New York, like my mom is Puerto Rican and there's that thing, I think this happens probably for a lot of people, but you know, you're like walking around in the world and something comes up and then your mom is like, hey, you know that person, that person's Puerto Rican. And you're like, oh!
Anna: West Virginians also do this a lot.
Alana: Yeah? Yeah, okay. Exactly, so like the example I often give is Basquiat, right? Like my mom would be like, Basquiat half Puerto Rican, and I'd be like, oh, Basquiat one of us. Yes, yes. quite.
Anna: I did not know that.
Alana: Yeah. And so it was always like pointing out Puerto Rican things and so often it was about who was singing a song. So, yeah.
Anna: Is there a song that you think of that sort of, um, you go to when you're like, I wanna go to that place inside myself that makes me really feel connected to Puerto Rico. Is there a particular song?
Alana: You know, we have one this season, that is that song for me. It's called “Boricua en la luna”, which means like Puerto Rican on the moon and it is about a, uh, like, so it starts out basically like a man and a woman. They go to New York, they. You know, they leave separately, they meet in New York, they fall in love, and their dream is to always go back home. They're always gonna go back to Puerto Rico, but they never quite do. And then they have a son and they're obviously like working super hard in New York. They say that the son is born of sweat and born of tears. Um, and you know, there's this part at the end, where, it's this very subtle line. So he's saying like, “Yo grito al villano,” I yell at the villain. So there's this sort of like other person who seems to be accusing him of not being Puerto Rican, and his response is like, “Yo seria borincano aunque naciera en la luna.” I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon.
(Boricua en la luna – Roy Brown)
y asi le grito al villano
yo seria borincano aunque naciera en la luna
y asi le grito al villano
yo seria borincano aunque naciera en la luna.
(end of Boricua en la luna – Roy Brown)
Alana: So you can kind of imagine there's this interlocutor who's like, are you Puerto Rican, sir? You've been born, you were born in the one-one-two-two-six zip code or something. Right? Like, some kind of imagined accusation.
Anna: A New York zip code.
Alana: Some New York zip code.
Anna: Uhhuh. Yeah.
Alana: Some kind of accusation. And he's like, no, defiantly saying like, no, I would be Puerto Rican anywhere. I would be Puerto Rican here. And there's this line about how the moon looks the same like, “Dicen que la luna es una sea de mar o de montuna” which means the moon looks the same whether you are looking at it from the sea or from the mountains, right? So you, you get the sense of, of someone looking at the moon, and it's the same moon you might see in Puerto Rico.
And it, it reminds me of, you know, like Feival in An American Tail, right? Where he's like looking at the moon, like “somewhere out there,” like that whole, that whole energy. And I just, I, I love that sentiment, right? That like, you don't, doesn't really matter where you are. Like you can, you can be looking at the same moon. Um, and actually I have a tattoo of the show art and I added a little moon to on top of that little house. To remind me of that line in the song.
Anna: Hmm hmm. I love that. Congratulations, Alana, on the second season of La Brega, it is really fun to listen to, um, Alana Casanova-Burgess, co-creator of La Brega. You can hear season two. There's a link in our show notes. Go find it wherever you listen to podcasts. Each episode is released in English and Spanish. Go find it. Go listen. You'll enjoy it.