Peter Culshaw: Clandestino – In Search of Manu Chao (Serpent’s Tail, 2013)
’When they are looking for me I’m never there
When they find me, it’s not me’
Manu Chao: Desaparecido
Manu Chao was born in Paris on June 21, 1961. According to his own admission, he loves the sun so much because he was born on the summer solstice. He grew up with his Spanish parents in Sèvres, a suburb of Paris, where they hosted guests such as the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian writer Gabriel García Marquez. In the midst of rockers and bands, young Manu decided that his profession would be the music. After his first musical attempts and bands playing covers, he achieved the real big success with the band Mano Nerga, which was so successful worldwide that they could have been world stars at the level of U2, if they had focused more on American tours and audiences, instead they took two of the most special tours in rock history to the end: the first traveling on a cargo ship in the ports of South America, the second by train in the Colombian countryside dominated by guerrillas and drug traffickers.
Manu Chao is not only musically innovative, but also famous for his honesty and unwavering integrity. Unlike many other activist rock stars who do charity from their private jets and luxury real estates, He not only preaches water, but also drinks it: he has hardly any personal property and rather lives a nomadic life in the world.
The author of the book is Peter Culshaw, a real musical Indiana Jones: he worked for the Observer, the Telegraph, BBC Radio, befriended pygmies in Central Africa, but also traveled from the Amazon to Siberia. He also recorded song with the Buena Vista Social Club in Havana and with Bollywood (India) bands as a musician. The book consists of two parts: in the first, we can follow the story of Manu Chao from his birth to the present day, and in the second, the author described his personal experiences when he followed Manu, from Barcelona, to New York, Buenos Aires, Western Sahara, Paris, Brixton and Brazil.
This book has been waiting on my shelf for ten years and somehow, I knew that I would really like it. I wasn’t wrong. I can compare it to On the Road by Kerouac. I recommend it to all free-spirited readers, especially with musical accompaniment.