In July 2008, I moved in with Stanley, who would become my husband the following year. In order to bring the small number of items he treasured from where he’d been living in Idaho to Massachusetts, we did our first cross-country road trip together in his Honda Accord and had nothing but fun. We stopped and explored or ate or rested whenever we wanted to, and I’d brought a bunch of CDs (remember those?) for our road trip soundtrack.
Everything I’d played for him up to that point had been music I loved, and he’d loved it, too. But I was still nervous to stick in the Manolo García CD. His fourth solo album, Saldremos a la lluvia, was pretty unusual, with Greek instruments and environmental lyrics in Spanish. My previous relationship had scarred me when the man in question couldn’t tolerate listening to Manolo García because he couldn’t understand what he was singing about. (I’ll note that as a giant red flag if I ever date again!)
“This disc is really important to me. This is the artist I love most in the world,” I said. “It’s okay if you don’t like it. I’ll take it out and we never have to hear it again together, but if you don’t like it, please be kind.” Asking Stanley to be kind was like asking a flower to bloom, but it was still early days. He acknowledged my request, and after the first song, I stared at him to gauge his reaction.
“It’s nice,” he said. “Leave it in.” Not the jumping for joy I could’ve hoped for, but the response still flooded me with relief. We listened to the whole disc attentively, and when we’d gone through all the other discs, Stanley did the most wonderful thing: he requested Manolo García again!
Thus I won my husband over for the Manolo García cause. Or rather, Manolo's awesomeness won Stanley over. Eventually, I made an mp3 disc with Manolo’s entire solo works for listening in the car, and one day we realized that it was all we ever listened to. When the nine hours finished, it cycled back to the beginning. When we realized this, we traded the disc for Lily Allen, whom we had seen together in concert in Boston. But as wonderful as she is, it felt wrong (Stanley's word, not mine!) to have anyone but Manolo in the CD player. So back in Manolo went.
Sometimes when getting out of the car, we would say, “Bye, Manolo!” We might measure a trip by how many Manolo albums it took to get there. Once we visited Tumacácori, a lovely Spanish mission so close to Arizona's border with Mexico that we passed through a checkpoint on I-10. I turned off the music so the officers wouldn't hear Spanish coming out of our speakers. "That was a good idea," said Stanley. What a world! I hope that's the only time it's a good idea to turn off Manolo music.
Stanley would ask me what some of the songs were about, and some, he informed me, were love songs. “No, it’s love gone wrong,” I would say, or, “Yes, a love song to the city of Cádiz…” No matter the real lyrics, to my husband—an inveterate romantic, at least as soon as he met me—they were all love songs. They accompanied us through life like a faithful friend.
The above song was Stanley's favorite for years. I'm not sure he liked the video much, though.
Tune in next time for the unexpected outcome of my 2008 journey to Spain and how it laid the basis for a wonderful marriage. Catch up with the other posts in this series here.