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Analyzing the Meaning of Song Lyrics

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mercedez
Words 1629
Pages 7
Miguel A. Rodriguez
Advanced Composition ENG 300
June 19, 2013

Music and Lyrics: Ruben Blades
(Looking For America)
I’m searching for you, America and fear that I will not find you your footprint has been lost in the dark. (Line 4)
I’m calling you America but you are not answering me.
You have been made to vanish by those who deny truth.(Line 8)

Surrounded by shadows we deny all that’s true until there is justice we will never have peace.(Line 12)
Living under Dictatorships
I search for you and I cannot find you.
Your body tortured is nowhere to be found. (Line 16)
If one’s dream is everybody’s dream to break the chains and begin our journey
Let’s be confident
Let’s go ahead, my race,

Let’s preserve time for those to come.(Line 24)
You’ve been abducted, America
Your mouth has been gagged and today it’s our turn to bring you freedom.
I’m calling you America our future awaits us and before it dies on us we will find you.(Line 33)
I’m searching for you America.
I’m calling you America
Oh, Oh
Fighting for our race and our freedom
And we will find you among the darkness,

You’ve been vanished by those who’re afraid of your truth.
While we search for the truth
Searching for our America
Mama and papa’s dream
And it’s our turn today to set you free. (Line 43)“Looking for America” 2013. Ruben Blades website. June 19, 2013, 05:05 When listening to the lyrics of this song it reminds me of people like my mother and father who to me relate more to the familiar version of “The American Dream”. I grew up in Puerto Rico and have seen the struggles of my family to give us enrichment in life, within our home and education. For my family it has been easier to convert to the norms and values of the United States, but for others I have seen their struggles to be harder than mine. Ruben Blades grew up in Panama, his mother being a Jamaican immigrant, struggled to make a life in New York City. In New York City his grandmother and mother were hoping to find a better life there and did not. They faced discrimination which made it hard to find a job and for his own mother to continue her education. This song speaks and reminds me of what we all strive for, what we all want for our children’s future. Our dreams are what keep us going in life.

Ruben Blades “Looking for America” captures many peoples version of the American Dream – a dream of not individual success but of democracy and social justice. The songwriter attitude in writing this song might be different from what the words express. Within the first parts of the lyrics; the songwriter, singer, and composer introduces to his listeners the true hard feeling of his struggle to stand by his culture and background. “Looking for America” it seems that the songwriter writes his lyrics in defense of his complications of life growing up. We probably would see it as our immigrant families arriving to this country. How exactly would we look for America. He is singing to be heard by others yet tells a story of his ancestor’s struggles, “I’m searching for you, America and fear that I will not find you, your footprint has been lost in the dark.” (Line 1-4 Lyrics) (Buenamusica). The mood of this song is harpooning ones soul is it struggle or is it advancing ones potential. It’s if he has lost his soul, what has made him and is afraid that with changes it will be hard to keep him from being his self. Ruben Blades at the age of 26 graduated from University of Panama, studying in Political Science and Law. Continuing his study in Law, he attended Harvard Law Graduate School, he became an Attorney. The composer born to a Jamaican mother and raised by a Cuban-born grandmother has learned and seen their version of “the American dream” – the possibility of education, work, a life of home ownership and unfettered

consumption – possible for others. Song describe struggle, living under scrutiny. Does power interrupt our lives as human beings, how can we grow with political struggle interrupting our progress in life. to his poetic song lyrics living under scrutiny and power interrupts our lives as individual human beings, He finds himself trapped in an environment that does not allow him to grow, to express. “Living under dictatorship, I search for you and I cannot find you, your body tortured is nowhere to be found” (Line 13-16 Lyrics) (Buenamusica).
In the following lyrics, “If one’s dream is everybody’s dream to break the chains and begin our journey, let’s be confident, let’s go ahead, my race, lets preserve time for those to come...” (line 17-24 Lyrics) (Buenamusica), calls upon us to continue to push for a political break in stopping segregation, for us to use our votes and make it count for changes. In an interview Ruben Blades, the songwriter, singer, and composer answer a question saying” I was born in an environment where color or race was not an issue, even though my mother was a poor Jamaican in Panama, my surroundings in Panama did not affect my life’ (Harris 2013). When the songwriter was moved to the Americas, he then became aware of the political and humanity discrimination. He wrote this song with a fierce message affecting all that has heard it. As his lyrics continue with messages “You’ve been abducted America your mouth has been gagged and today it’s our turn to bring you freedom.” “I’m calling you

America our future awaits us and before it dies on us we will find you.” (Line 25-32) His mother and grandmother were turned down jobs for not having the right color and because they spoke with accents. He speaks in his song this is America home of the free, allow different cultures to be accepted as equals.
Our most wonderful aspect of this America is freedom of speech; where we can be heard and we can see other traditions of different cultures.
The songwriter wrote this song in 1984. He wanted to capture his version of the American dream, a dream not of individual success but of transforming the promise of democracy and social justice into a reality. Continuing to use lyrics “I’m searching for America, I’m calling you America” (line 33-34). In this year 1984 this America was completely different. Once the songwriter reached a maturing age, he was able to understand what had happened to his mother and grandmother. His father, a musician, brought interest in music. He expresses his thoughts in music and writes lyrics that speak volume. Being a political speaker he not only fights with words and songs but continues to fight to have this America free of all discrimination. ‘Buscando America” is not a rags-to-riches story, but one of democratic promise appropriate for the mid-80’s when immigrants fled U.S., backed death squads in Central America and poverty in Mexico and Haiti to come to the United States. The songwriter, composer and singer knew well that the policies that brought us the “good life” of cheap

produce, cheap commodities and cheap labor fueled the wave of immigrants “looking for America.” In finding America also meant liberating America, realizing the dreams borne of their home countries and inspired by America’s self-image. In other words, Blades reminds us that the people who clean, build our houses, cook, serve out food,

remove our trash, pack deliver and stock all the useless items that clutter up our homes; come out of traditions of struggle with alternative dreams of the good life. He also reminds us of all violence in parts of the world who are still fighting for their democratic rights such as Korea, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. Places where the pursuit of this American dream of consumption has become their worst nightmare. They all desire social justice, equal rights and equal protection under the law; they fight for citizenship and stand up to power, challenging the wave of deportations and detentions. I look at this songwriter with total respect. His lyrics give a vision of discrimination in the year of 1980. It speaks out in volume to all of the immigrants that have migrated here from other countries and have become United States citizens. The lyrics call upon us to speak out and be heard so that there is a long lasting affect for our family and friend. Those lyrics remind me to continue to look at the positive for progress in life, no matter what obstacles we run into and voice my opinion no matter what color or race I am. We have seen now many songwriters to write and sing songs that have political translations but, Ruben Blades is one of the first songwriters to use his lyrics with a political message. The songwriter continues to write songs, not all of them as political as this one, but with messages that touches one soul. We will continue to change this world for the good; this is the message of this song.

Work Cited
Buenamusica. n.d. 9 July 2013 .
Harris, Craig. n.d. 09 07 2013. 19 June 2013. 19 June 2013.


2013, "Ruben Blades.". The Biography Channel Website. n.d. 10 July 2013 .
2013, Craig Harris. All Music. 9 July 2013. 9 July 2013 .
Buenamusica. n.d. 9 July 2013 . 19 June 2013. 19 June 2013.

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