(“Song of the Week” is a now-discontinued series in which SW contributor Yukino gave weekly rundowns on tracks. In this installation,Yukino delves into a track he’s resonated with since childhood: Mana’s “En el muelle de San Blas”.)
Mexican rock band Mana is recognized by many as the most successful of its kind to have ever existed – a notion quantified by over 40 million record sales. The group has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t is their formula for success: heavy electric guitar, harmonically driven percussion, and lyrics that paint compelling pictures.
En el Muelle de San Blas is no different; it tells the story of a woman who witnessed her love interest board a boat for work – only to wait until death for him to come back. San Blas is a town near shore, and the word muelle means docks, therefore translating the entire title to “At the dock of San Blas.” The story is told from the perspective of an external narrator, who views the woman in question from afar. It is a coastal town. Many of them go fishing for weeks and return with fish and money. Nevertheless, she is saddened with her predicament, but much to her expectation, the man does not return. Every day she wears the same dress, simply and patiently waiting. She does this until, as the song says:
“Y el tiempo escurre y sus ojos se le llenaron
Y del mar se enamoró
Y su cuerpo se enraizó
En el muelle de san blas.”
The time passed, and her eyes were filled with morning after morning. She fell in love with the ocean as her body began to create roots.
It’s a truly sad story; a woman who is afraid of letting go – despite knowing that her lover is likely dead and never to come back – persists, waiting tirelessly by the shore for a lost cause. Even sadder: she does so wearing the same dress, hoping that the two will marry upon reconnection. The song, while catchy and melodic, delves into one of humanity’s deepest struggles: hope. I’ve been listening since I was 4. My father always played this song through my upbringing, and it wasn’t until recently that I sat down with him and had a conversation about it. Despite my naive mind having thought he played it only for its catchiness, I learned that it impacted him because it spoke to his own challenges. Being an immigrant, he hoped for a better life, one that allowed him to put food on the table, be a loving father, and have an education.
With the little hope my father came to this country with, I now – to his delight – live a life he could not have for himself.