Pablo Milanes’ 5 Essential Tracks: Listen

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Although often associated with Cuba’s politics and Cuba’s Nueva Trova, Pablo Milanés, who died on Tuesday (Nov. 22) in Madrid, was first and foremost a romantic troubadour, as reflected by his greatest and most recognizable hit songs. Here are five.

1. “Para Vivir (To Live)”: There’s no one like Milanés that can beautifully describe how love dies. “Para Vivir” is a song Milanés performed very slowly, as if to make sure listeners understood every word.

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2. “Yolanda”: Perhaps Milanés’ biggest hit, this track is an homage to his second wife, Yolanda Bente, who is the mother of Milanés’ three daughters. The track appears on the late singer’s album, Yo Me Quedo, which was released in 1982.

3. “El Breve Espacio En que No Estás (The Brief Space Where You’re Not)”: A love song for that love that may never return. It boasts some of Milanés’ most beautiful lyrics.

4. “El Amor de mi Vida (The Love of My Life)”: This romantic song is from his 1998 album Vengo Naciendo, which won a Latin Grammy the following year for Best Pop Vocal album.

5. “De Que Callada Manera (In What Quiet Way)”: Milanés sang the work of Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén in the album Canta a Nioclás Guillén in 1982. The beautiful words, beginning with the opening line –“In what quiet way to you make your smiling way into me”– spoke to millions. Milanés recorded the original only with guitar, but performed it many times during his lifetime, including this poppy version alongside Spaniard Ana Belén in 1985.

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