Lament on the Death of Diplo of Puerto Rico

Robert Garfias
Anthropology
UCI

For many years I have carried around this recording, originally a 45 rpm that was released around 1956 or 57. I found it in a Puerto Rican record shop in San Francisco. The title is "Diplo - Lamento Jibaro", a lament on the death of of Diplo. Jibaro meaning that the performance is in the style of the jibaro, or mountaineers of Puerto Rico where the strongest old Spanish traditions survive.

I understood that Diplo was the stage name of Ramon Rivera, a well known radio, film and television personality from Puerto Rico, but knew little else. The performance is not by any of the famous Jibaro musicians of Puerto Rico of that time but by two people identified only as Luisito and Moralito. I no longer have the 45 and so can no longer be certain if the name of an accompanying ensemble was given or not.

I was immediately struck by the depth of feeling expressed in this performance, It would seem evident that these two singers were friends of Diplo. The performance begins with a prayer for the repose of his soul and then the two singers exchange improvised decimas, ten paired couplets of eight syllables each. A powerful and moving eulogy and a wonderful example of the Puerto Rican Jibaro or mountain style.

Through the wonders of the Internet where increasingly almost anything can be found, I found a web site on the life of Diplo http://www.diplo.org/# with much biographical information on him. He died in 1956 at 47 and this recording was made shortly after that. For years I treasured the recording and had only sketchy information on Diplo himself. Finding the website prompted me to put this example up so that others might hear it.

1956, when I got this record, seems like yesterday to me, but I realize that for many it was long ago and for them, perhaps, hearing this music might provide some reward.

Diplo - Lamento Jibaro by Luisito y Moralito

 


rgarfias@uci.edu