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Pele once said that an African nation would win the World Cup by 2000. He was laughed out of the room. Zinedine Zidane, on the other hand, once said that soon, Spain would start winning, and when they did, they wouldn’t stop. How unerringly right he was.

There was almost a sense of inevitability about Spain’s victory. They were clearly the most talented side in the competition, were on an absolute roll going into the finals, and have such an embarrassment of riches at their disposal that players as good as Fernando Torres, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Manuel Mata, Jesus Navas, and Victor Valdes – all of them star players for their clubs – couldn’t get into the first eleven. And yet, any idea that this was somehow a disappointing finish to the tournament were ended instantly when the realisation that Spain had won sunk in. This is Spain, the biggest under-achiever in football. A country on the verge of political meltdown. A bunch of (mostly) immensely likeable footballers. And when Iniesta scored the winning goal and tore off his shirt to reveal a tribute to Dani Jarque, the Espanyol captain who died suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year, it became clear that this wasn’t just fate, it was right. Enjoy it, Spain, and keep on enjoying it – it’s completely deserved.

Plenty of people assume that they are au fait with traditional Spanish music, but they may be surprised to learn exactly what they have wrong. Flamenco? Sure, but only in Andalusia and the middle-class parts of Castille. Fandango? Again, only in Andalusia and the Basque country. Rumba? Purely in Catalonia. Salsa? Wrong continent, bro. Think it’s predominantly based around the guitar? Sometimes, but not in the Basque, Galicia, or Aragon regions, where percussion and pipe instruments reign. Even if you assume that such a Catholic country will have a deep history of church music, you’d only be half-right – there is a much deeper Muslim influence than in any of their neighbouring countries (including, perhaps surprisingly, France). The complicated truth is that Spain is so strongly subdivided into its regions that each has a distinct, separate folk heritage, with some genres like the traditional dance jota having to be split into Aragonese and Castillan variants. This is a composition which includes both, starting in Castillan territory (downbeat, lyrical) before moving into Aragon (light-hearted, fleet-fotted, complex).

The composer of that work, Francisco Tarrega, is a collosus in the history of classical guitar, and many of the earliest important composers for the instrument were also Spanish. It’s an instrument that’s tended to have a special place in Spanish culture, having once been seen as an instrument unique to the country, so it should be no surprise that Spain has a thriving rock scene with plenty of hidden delights for those willing to search. Alt rockers Los Planetas and nuevo flamenco duo Camaron de la Isla and Paco de Lucia are probably the most famous ones, but here I’m going to shine light on probably the best third-wave ska album ever – the 1985 self-titled debut record by Kortatu. That’s right, kids – third-wave ska in 1985. Now that’s not something you expected to find in Spain, is it? Kortatu’s Basque vision of left-wing revolution made them a kind of Spanish Rage Against the Machine, especially as they later expanded into hardcore and hip-hop, split up, and formed the rap group Negu Gorriak – but not before leaving a new wave of Basque bands in their wake. Their debut album boasts covers of “Chatty Chatty” by Toots and the Maytals and “Jimmy Jazz” by The Clash, both of which stand up favourably against the originals, but this one’s an original composition. For extra fun, it’s a live version too.

To finish, here’s something that goes at least a little way to finish on a global note. (Unfortunately, my plan to end with “Ode to Joy” after a German victory was scuppered….) Georges Bizet’s Carmen – mentioned in the France entry – might be nominally a French work, but it has always struck me as an almost pan-European composition, using an Italian form to tell a story set in Spain, all with a good dollop of English humour. Indeed, when it premièred, the French hated it – it wasn’t until it reached Vienna that it found popularity, before becoming a beloved, important work in Germany, Italy, and Spain. Spain’s most prodigal violinist was obviously listening, at least – Pablo de Sarasate’s most popular composition is his Carmen Fantasy. Here is it being played by another great violin virtuoso, the Israeli-American Itzhak Perlman – just to nail home a couple more countries.

Iai’s team of the tournament:

Eduardo

Maicon……Godin……….Pique……Lahm

Khedeira

Schweinsteiger….Sneider

Mueller……………………………….Villa

Forlan





DarthBlubber
07.11.10
Sigh @ Spain winning, match was boring... but anyway this was a really interesting series, kept me coming back to see what was in store everyday, found a few bands along the way that I liked! Good work man, was well researched!

Lucid
07.11.10
I'm really happy that Spain won! They are the team that I've been supporting ever since they won Portugal to qualify for the semi-finals. The finale was exhausting, wished it ended faster.

8bit
07.11.10
What a coincidence that Spain is the last country posted on the same day they won the cup..

Nagrarok
07.11.10
Haha, at least you got the last one right Nick. I really enjoyed reading these blogs, fantastic job. The final was really dissapointing though, and obviously there was some sadness here because Holland lost just before the penalties came in, but that's started to wane now. Spain deserves it.

AbrahamLincoln
07.11.10
kortatu is awesome

thebhoy
07.11.10
yeah Spain are just on a different level than anybody else at the moment. What about Rodrigo, responsible for the Concerto de Aranjuez (spelling?), he wrote some of the best compositions that are iconic of Spain.

DaveyBoy
07.12.10
More importantly.....

1. Emery - DaveyBoy 591
2. Spitfire - Ross Tomlin 571
3. SmurkinGherkin - Smurkin 565
4. Iai's Diving Scum - Iai 534

"There was almost a sense of inevitability about EMERY’s victory. They were clearly the most talented side in the competition, were on an absolute roll going into the finals, and have such an embarrassment of riches at their disposal."

You forgot to say they had the best manager also.

beatific
07.12.10
i always get pissed when mexicans win but not this time

DaveyBoy
07.12.10
... and a great, informative end to a fantastic series of blogs Nick. Well done mate.

I think many people who have not been to Spain wouldl be surprised about just how different the regions are. Seriously, you would think you were in totally different countries. They preactically go out of their way to be different to each other.

klap
07.12.10
shit ton of work put into this nick great job

IsItLuck?
07.12.10
kudos x32

CelestialDust
07.12.10
DaveyBoy: Yeah there's so many different dialects around spain. It was interesting to see puyol and xavi waving the catalan flag after the game was over. In Barcelona there was a huge rally this weekend for independence of the catalans haha. my background is actually half gallego/ half catalan

Viva España!!!

DaveyBoy
07.12.10
How long have they been trying for independence? And what are their chances?

I'm guessing a while & very little.

JayVex
07.12.10
Fuck Spain.

Kiran
07.12.10
awesome articles iai, really good job. such an intense match yesterday, dunno how anyone could've found it boring, although its a bit pathetic how the dutch are giving webb grief now - lose with dignity? so glad forlan won the golden ball too and muller with the golden boot.

Iai
07.12.10
@Davey

The Catalan and Basque regions have been seeking independance for ages but are unlikely to ever get it, although Spain is actually 17 autonomous communites. It's the same with Cornwall in England - there's an older contingent who are so fiercely proud of their heritage and individuaity. Like you say, it's like they go out of their way to be different to each other.

Iai
07.12.10
@Kirgasm

Yeah, everybody I waswatching it with, texting while it was on etc. kept saying how boring it was. I thought it was fascinating.

Nagrarok
07.12.10
I would say it was tense - not intense. Both sides were waiting for that first goal so the game really could get rolling. Only, that goal kept and kept waiting to come.

Iai
07.12.10
'What about Rodrigo, responsible for the Concerto de Aranjuez (spelling?), he wrote some of the best compositions that are iconic of Spain.'

I very, very nearly posted Paco de Lucia's performance of this, but plumped for Tarrega instead at the last minute just because his music has a few more links to folk.

Baphomet
07.13.10
Maybe some Estopa would be nice as well. Anyway, well decerved victory for Spain.

Davey, stop bragging.

DaveyBoy
07.13.10
But it's fun.

theartofdoom
07.16.10
i was rooting for holland :( anyways for the more extreme minded amongst you might be interested in knowing about spain's thriving death metal scene, Teitanblood being the prime example, as well as Machetazo.

DhA
07.17.10
Even before that match the DUTCH were more guilty of being underachievers, just look tat the ridiculous amounts of talent that country has produced.

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