‘A Puro Dolor,’ a Song That Broke Through Language Barriers
Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.
I can’t lie to you, Nuestro readers. When this song was out, I played it over and over and over again until everyone around me probably wanted to rip the radio from my hands and throw it over a ledge.
Seemingly quite a few people had the same reaction to the song “A Puro Dolor” by Son by Four because it was on a constant loop on any radio station that played R&B music.
Which was part of the reason the song was so monumental.
It wasn’t just played on Latin radio stations; it wasn’t just cued up by the DJs who played Spanish music for Spanish speakers. “A Puro Dolor” was one of those rare songs that managed to cross the language barrier and speak directly to the people regardless if they understood the words.
The song, which came out over two decades ago (yes, I’m aging myself here), is a song that laments about the purest of pain. The pain you feel after you lose someone you love. A heartbreak that often feels too horrible to live through — until you do. That kind of emotion, that kind of ache, seems to be something that manages to transcend language. It somehow speaks to you and through you.
The intro to the song pulls you in with its melodic guitar strums, reminiscent of the Spanish plucking style that shows up in many pieces to this day. The pluck of the chord reminds you of the tugging of your heartstrings. It resonates deep within you. The song was simple but powerful, with the four singers harmonizing with melodies and riffs that sounded too perfect to be real.
I still listen to it, if I’m being honest. If you haven’t heard it before or want to walk down memory lane, just push play.
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Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.