Stories » Leave the Ventana Open...

Leave the Ventana Open...

... and tell me si debo ir o quedarme.

Joe Strummer actuando con The Clash en 1980.

Wherever you are... Stay Free... [Imagen: LPDS/Wombo Art]

It was the first years of the 90s of the last century when Miky and Jony, two friends who at that time were studying at university in Salamanca, met in a bar on one of those inexhaustible nights out... where the drinks were also inexhaustible... and certainly sticky; those ones of cutty sark with apple trina, seven up or sprite in the case of Jony, and those ones of four roses with cola on Miky's. If Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non praestat, what the nights did give in the capital of wisdom were alcohol, music and bars of all kinds... in huge quantities... and all despite to the motto of a song that at that time said something like Salamanca: art, knowledge and bullfighting.

[LPDS/Wombo Art]

Precisely in one of those pubs in the Plaza San Justo area, next to the Gran Vía, Jony and Miky were drinking, on this occasion, two highball glasses of draft beer -their night outings were not without a certain frequency and their economy was not a bottomless pit. Although the passage of time makes them doubt the exact bar where the anecdote we are going to tell took place, what is certain is that it took place in the ones in the area of ​​Plaza San Justo, where the night, any day of the week, used to be musically ethylic through temples such as the Pani (Paniagua), the Arenas, the Rivendell, the Escaná, the 911 -whose DJ booth was the bodywork of a Porsche 911, which was also at a certain height level from the floor-, or the Pípers ... By the way, about the Pani, just a comment on a small anecdote that Miky told us. And the fact is that he was about to pee in his pants, given that with the pub as crowded as ever and he on its second floor with barely enough room to breathe, the song Mi agüita amarilla/My litle yellow water by Los Toreros Muertos... the gift of opportunism... Miky, who couldn't move towards the bathing area, which would surely be practically inaccessible considering that night the pub seemed to have multiplied its already large usual influx. Fighting as best as he could against a human wall that seemed endless, in the midst of sweat and with a cloud of alcohol fluttering in his head, he managed to reach the exit door and was thus able to finally release his little yellow water -what he didn't tell us is whether he looked for the restrooms of a less crowded bar or whether he wandered into the first dark, or not-so-dark, alley that came to hand.

Returning to the story at hand, Miky and Jony loved to talk about music during their festive outings. While Miky approached the counter to demand two new glasses of beer, the first chords of the mythical Should I Stay or Should I Go of the legendary The Clash started to sound through the loudspeakers.

— Do you know the story behind this song's lyrics? -Joni asked.
— I'll just tell you that I love this kind of rock'n'rap.... but tell me, tell me, what do you mean? -Miky answered with some intrigue.
— Take a good look, tune up your ears, the moment I'm talking about is coming...

More than hearing, Miky seemed more willing to tune his beer...

— Didn't you notice something special during the backing vocals that Strummer does?
— Backing vocals? -Miky replied, disconcerted... and already a bit drunk.
— Here it comes again, come on, sharpen your damn ear...

Miky tuned it as much as he could, but between the atmosphere and the drinks, the truth is that the song sounded like always for him.

— Strummer does the backing vocals in Spanish, not perfect Spanish, but understandable enough -Jony sentenced, already determined to solve the mystery.
— What!? -Miky jumped bewildered.
— That part where Jones sings This indecision's bugging me, Strummer replies Tu indecisión me molesta. Next, when Jones sings If you don't want me, set me free... Strummer accompanies in the background with Si no me quieres, líbrame. And in the next line, Exactly who I'm supposed to be?, Strummer's voice is heard singing Dime, ¿qué tengo que ser?

[LPDS/Wombo Art]

Mike was astonished. His hand was stuck to his glass, so the remaining beer was heating up, probably no less than his head. Jony warned him about it, to which his friend reacted by drinking in one shot the broth of hops and barley stuck to his hand for a few minutes. While they looked for a new place at the counter to order new drinks, Jony continued with the unraveling of the enigma that kept Miky on edge.

— Don't touch that dial, there's still more to come -said Jony laughing, emulating that phrase from the Mighty Mouse cartoons on his childhood-. We had stayed at Exactly who I'm supposed to be?/Dime, ¿qué tengo que ser?... Well, things continue. When Jones sings Don't you know which clothes even fit me?, Strummer replies ¿Sabes que ropa me queda? And after Jones sings Come on and let me know, Strummer replies Pero me tienes que decir. And at the end of this part of the song, that is, when Should I Stay or Should I Go?, Strummer sings ¿Si debo ir o quedarme?
— What a treat Joni! How cool mate! Look, I've heard this song hundreds... what hundreds!? thousands of times... and I had never realized about these details. This deserves some mixed drinks... as usual Jony?
— As usual.

With their new little friends of glass on the counter, and after a few sips, Jony once again claimed Miky's attention regarding their topic of conversation.

— Again, don't touch he dial... there's still more... -Jony reiterated again between laughs.
— Still more to come? -added Miky incredulously.
— Sure... when the chorus comes up and Jones sings Should I Cool It or Should I Blow?, Strummer replies Yo me enfrío o lo soplo. And then, after If I go there will be trouble, it's when you can also hear in the background Si me voy va a haber peligro. To finish with And if I stay it will be double... Si me quedo es doble...
— Amazing Jony, I'm just freaking out... true that we already had a few drinks... but this story is amazing...

Miky, already somewhat intoxicated and visibly excited by the musical revelations that his friend had given him, went straight to the counter, making a place for himself among the crowd that was already filling the place. When he reached his target, he claimed the attention of the waiter, who was also in charge of the music, and asked him to please put Should I Stay or Should I Go back on as soon as it was possible.

While the two friends waited anxiously for the song, specially Miky, and since the alcohol was already playing tricks on their brains, surely at times they came to feel like Strummer and Jones themselves during one of their live performances with the band, something that would gain intensity when those first guitar chords without accompaniment of the expected theme were already intuited through the speakers.

Drenched in sweat and endorphins, after humming the song of their idols, with backing vocals both in English and Spanish included, Miky and Jony left the pub. Outside, with the icy winter air of Salamanca invading their faces, and while they were heading to a new temple on their night pilgrimage by the city, Miky asked Jony if he knew why the song contained parts in Spanish.

— Strummer was living seasons in Spain, and more specifically he spent a good part of them in Granada -said Jony.
— What are you telling me!? - Miky expressed absorbed.
— In fact, he produced the second album for the band 091. There is also another great song from the mythical triple album London Calling, Spanish Bombs, which talks about the Spanish Civil War and also includes some parts in Spanish, which are mixed with English. Thus, for example, we find phrases like Oh, please, leave the ventana open or The black cars of Guardia Civil. And in the chorus you can hear Strummer singing Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito/Yo te quiero, oh mi corazón, and at the end... Spanish songs in Andalucía, Mandolina, oh mi corazón/Spanish songs in Granada, oh mi corazón...
— And what about the lyrics as a whole, about the meaning of this song? -Mike interrupted.
— According to my understanding, it's about a complex relationship, and...
— Are there any one not complicated? -Miky came forward again, followed by both letting out a thunderous laugh.
— No, seriously, I think it's about that, about a guy who must be a bit tired of his girlfriend playing with him, bossing him around and using him for her sexual satisfaction, but without taking into account his true feelings, and it seems that he is tired of that game... hence the question of Should I stay or should I go?; that is,  if he should break up with the relationship or continue... Anyway, it is my personal interpretation, because I have never read or heard any comment from the band regarding the origin of the lyrics of this song...
— What you say makes perfectly sense, I agree with that interpretation. The guy is between a rock and a hard place, he has got into a real dead end. You just have to pay attention to the lyrics. Strummer sings very clearly: If I go there will be trouble... and If I stay it will be double. That is, if the fellow leaves and breaks up with her... she's going to make a scene and she's going to make his life miserable. On the other hand, if he stays... double portion of sex, as always, and that's it... and of course, it's not that the fellow doesn't like the subject, but, as you say, he feels like a mere sex toy and he doesn't like that situation... And it seems that his way of protesting is by telling her, okay honey, it's okay, you know that if I stay, even if you try to make me horny, I'm even capable of blowing to cool down my stuff so you should realize that this is not exclusively about sex and submission...
— F*ck Miky, it's me who's freaking out now with your interpretation, and I'm not saying this in a negative sense, quite the opposite, buddy, I've never gone so far and in so much detail about the possible meaning of this song... -Jony expressed with absolute sincerity.
— And if it were the case... what would you do, Jony? Would you stay or would you go? -Miky questioned his friend.
— Well, considering that I've been in need for some time now, of course I would stay, I would fr*g her twice, double portion, and then I would go quickly and quickly to cool down... but in a bar and with some mixed drinks with a lot of ice... -Jony answered without thinking twice, and both friends had a blast for a few seconds.
— And you, Miky, what would you do? -Jony asked, expecting a response similar to his own.
— You know what, Jony? -Miky said after a few thoughtful moments.
— Tell me -Jony replied uneasily.
— I just wish that at our next stop we can listen to Should I Stay or Should I Go or Spanish Bombs, so we can pay tribute to Strummer, Jones, Simonon and Headon as they deserve. Singing... and toasting...
— May your wishes come true Miky... I'm pretty sure that in the next pub there are at least a couple of glasses waiting for its air to be removed with some potion... the Revolution Rock is waiting for us...