Rubén Blades, 1977

"Plastico" criticizes people with "plastic," or false, personalities and lifestyles. Based on your reading of the lyrics, what do you think Blades means by "plastic"?

The song opens with music in disco style—a repeating bass and rhythmic groove accented by a slick synthesizer and string accompaniment and more aggressive brass interjections. Why do you think Blades included this music? Is he calling disco music and culture "plastic"?

In the song, Blades criticizes people who have "sold, out of convenience, their reason to live and their freedom"? What does he mean by this? How can people sell their reason to live and their freedom?

Toward the end of the song, Blades names Latin American political leaders Bolivar, Sotomayor, and Somoza. Who are these people, and why does Blades refer to them?

"Plastico" recorded by Rubén Blades on Rubén Blades - Poeta del Pueblo, © 2008. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information on Rubén Blades, visit his official website. The official video can be viewed on YouTube.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source

Rubén Blades (b. 1946) is a Panamanian singer, songwriter, actor, musician, activist, and politician. His recordings of salsa music and his collaborations with other Latin American performers have earned him numerous Grammy Awards. He ran for president of Panama in 1994, receiving eighteen percent of the vote, and he was Panama's minister of tourism from 2004 to 2009.

Blades was born in Panama City to musical parents—his father played drums and his mother was a pianist and singer. His first public performance was in 1963, and he recorded his first album, From Panama to New York, in New York City in 1969. In 1975 in New York he began performing salsa music with conga player Ray Barretto, and the following year he partnered with trombonist Willie Colón. In 1977 he and Colón released the album Siembra, which is one of the best-selling salsa records in history.

Siembra album cover
Siembra album cover.

"Plastico," which appeared on Siembra, criticizes those with "plastic," or false, personalities and lifestyles. Like much of Blades's music, this song is politically and socially motivated, primarily advocating for a peaceful and unified Latin America. The song is strophic for the first three verses, as the narrative describes the "plastic" characters. When the focus changes to those who are hardworking and genuine, the text becomes more spontaneous and at times is spoken.

The song ends with a roll call of all the Latin American countries. The final line in the recording, "Nicaragua (without Somoza)," is a jab at Nicaragua's Somoza dynasty, which led the government from 1936 to 1979. Because of this line, the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle banned the song.



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