Facundo Cabral was a Minimalist Latin Troubadour


It amazes me that an artist as popular as Facundo Cabral never had a home, and his actual material processions were few. A guy that as a kid was homeless with his mother and siblings, went on to become homeless by choice.

With the recent passing of Facundo Cabral, I’ve been among the many fans recently reviewing his recordings and Youtube videos. I was recently talking to a friend who is a lifelong fan of Cabral. In that conversation I learned that Facundo truly practiced what we call today “minimalism”.

Minimalist Lifestyle of Facundo Cabral

Facundo Cabral lived in hotels, or said more accurately, slept in hotels….his entire life. This is with the exception of when he was homeless as a kid. His musical career began by accident coincidentally in a hotel. As he went to find a job there, the hotel people confused him with a substitute performer they were expecting because Facundo was carrying a guitar.

Facundo Cabral - No Soy de Aqui
Facundo Cabral – early days

From there Facundo Cabral continued his career moving around and sleeping in hotels when he had the money. He loved the freedom to see the world, of meeting new people, of admiring nature.

Facundo got this from his mother. Sara explained to him their homelessness as actually being “rich”, in a certain way. This was because they could live anywhere, as the world was their home. They were not confined to just a single house in one place.

In his 1994 Live recording “Lo Cortez No Quita Lo Cabral” he explains to a fan God’s “inattentiveness” of not giving him as much commercial success as Julio Iglesias. Facundo’s story says “God knows that Julio needs more money to live than I do; that’s why He gave him more success. But beware, the Lord also knows that I need more freedom than Julio to live, that’s why he made me freer”.

Cabral’s Minimalist Music

One thing my friend and I were discussing was that Facundo Cabral did not release new material for many years. It’s like he did his excellent writing in the 1st half of his career. Then, he lived on that from there on.

His 1st gig, that accidental confusion at that fateful hotel in Argentina, marked the direction of his career. When the hotel staff knocked on his hotel room door, he thought they finally realized the mistake, but that wasn’t the case. The staff came to take him to do the show opening.

Not knowing what to do in front of the audience, he opted to do the same thing he did when he was “killing time” with his homeless friends. He shared stories and his philosophy of life from his interpretation of the bible and the poems he liked to read. He did this using his guitar as a musical background.

The audience at the hotel show loved it so much, that after his performance time was up, they didn’t want to let him go. Then and there, Facundo Cabral realized there was an audience for “storytellers”. Therefore, he considered himself a storyteller rather than a singer. It was the beginning of a magnificent career.

In the video below Facundo Cabral tells the story of how he created his most popular song.

Songs and Stories of Facundo Cabral

Facundo Cabral compositions were few, but he would alter them to tell different stories. For instance, in his signature song “No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla” (I’m not from here nor from there), Facundo Cabral varies his lyrics to tell different stories.

Facundo Cabral with Alberto Cortez
Facundo Cabral and Alberto Cortez “Lo Cortez No Quita Lo Cabral”

So we seem to never get tired of listening to his songs not only because he can vary them, but also because in his long interludes with the guitar, he varies the stories he tells. And, as with all good songs, the messages in Facundo’s songs are timeless.

Remembering Facundo

I had the privilege to go to one of the early shows of “Lo Cortez No Quita Lo Cabral”. It’s likely it was one of those used for the recording of the album. It was an extraordinary experience.

It was done in the old renovated Theater of Mexico City, which gave it a colonial, elegant, and intimate ambiance as the old building in the old colonial downtown wasn’t very big. The fabulous songs and the audience singing along with Facundo was a mesmerizing experience. Along with his fellow Argentinean singer-songwriter Alberto Cortez, they made an enchanting evening. Thank God it is recorded in a nice album.

That image of a truly free man, with a minimalistic lifestyle and a minimalistic musical career, that could touch so many hearts around the world, is how I will remember Facundo Cabral. A man that truly walked the talk, and in doing so, walked the whole world.

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