Michael Franti and Spearhead, 2006

How does the first verse humanize the soldier?

In the second verse, the soldier admits that everything he "always believed was a lie." What does he mean by this?

What do you think is the significance of the unresolved music at the end of the song? What does it represent? What else is left unresolved at the end of the song?

Compare this song to "Travelin' Soldier" (also in this unit). Why do you think both songs focus on the permanent separation of civilians from loved ones who have fallen on the battlefield?

"Violeta" performed Ozomatli on Don't Mess with the Dragon, © 2007. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information about Ozomatli, visit their official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics: wlcawa/violeta_english_translation/ (English)

Ozomatli is a band from Los Angeles, California, that mixes funk, Latin, rock, hip-hop, reggae, and other genres. "Ozomatli" is the Nahuatl (a language of indigenous Mexicans) word for monkey and is associated with movement, especially dance. Current members of the band include Wil-Dog Abers (bass guitar), Ulises Bella (saxophone, clarinet, requinto jarocho, keyboard, melodica), Asdru Sierra (piano, trumpet, lead vocals), Jiro Yamaguchi (tabla, percussion), Raúl Pacheco (guitar, tres, jarana, lead vocals), and Justin Porée (percussion, rap vocals).

In 1995, founding member Abers was employed by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, a nonprofit organization that employs inner-city youth. Starting in March of 1995 he participated in a two-month occupation of one of LACC's buildings to protest low wages and the lack of benefits and opportunities for promotion. He referred to the work LACC made its workers do as "slave labor" (Martinez). In the eventual agreement reached with LACC, the workers lost their jobs but were allowed to continue to use the building for a year. When they decided to make it a community arts center for inner-city youth, Abers formed Ozomatli to raise money. (For more on the band and its activities, see "(Who Discovered) America.")


Much of the band's music reflects the group's roots in the struggle for social justice. "Violeta" is an antiwar song that presents the thoughts of a soldier as he lies wounded and dying in a desert battlefield. He comes to terms with his mortality and the realization that he will never see his beloved Violeta again. In the bridge ("Todo pudo ser …"), he begins to question the purpose of the war. This leads to a new section, in rap, in which he questions people's responses to war. Like the soldier's questions, the final harmony is left unresolved.



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