Moments come to me on Facebook where I'm leaving wondering, "Did I just read what I think I read?" when posts are in Spanish and I'm having a hard time translating them. Early this morning I saw my friend's post and couldn't quite translate all of it. I came away thinking Joe Arroyo was close to death. I refreshed the page and saw another friend's post where it was clear that Joe Arroyo had passed. Not knowing that he had been sick for a month or more it came as a shock.
Joe Arroyo's music is everywhere. No matter where you go to dance salsa it is almost a given that you'll hear his music. For some, they may not even know they are dancing to his songs. I remember when I fist got a 'Best of' album and started going through the songs one by one. I hadn't realized that some of his songs were ones that I loved. I wasn't familiar enough with him at that time to pick his voice out at the clubs.
Joe was known for being from Barranquilla but was born in Cartagena. It is said he got his start in a strip joint of all places at the age of 8. Having battled drug addiction he had almost passed away at other points in his life. Now, at the young age of 55, his heart could no longer go on it seems.
One of his stand-out songs is Rebelion. The music is recognizable and known to most anyone who has ever danced salsa. However, it is the story within the song that makes it meaningful. The song speaks of a slave who's wife gets beat and he goes on to rebel against the owners. In fact, for those who do not speak Spanish, they are probably dancing to this incredible song without even realizing its meaning. It is a powerful song.
Many on Facebook have been posting their favorite songs - En Barranquilla Me Quedo, Bam Bam, Echao Pa' Lante, and more. The beautiful thing about music is that it lives on even though its creator has left this world. For Joe Arroyo it is clear that generations to come will know his music and fall in love with it just as we have.