The Double-Meaning of ‘En Libertad y Obligado’

June 6, 2024
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My girlfriend recently introduced me to Franny Glass, the solo project of Uruguayan singer-songwriter Gonzalo Deniz, through the song “En Libertad y Obligado.†I have been hooked ever since, despite not speaking enough Spanish to fully understand exactly what is being sung.

This inability to fully comprehend, however, led me to a realisation in a rather organic way – Gonzalo is a damn good writer.
The song is, for all intents and purposes, a love song where the narrator is telling his beloved the extent of his love for her. It follows the rather typical lyrical conceit of “I love you in X and Y†but infuses it with a distinctly Latin American flair.

With a strange, slightly off-key voice, accompanied by an acoustic, mellow pop sound, the song is not only easy to enjoy but incredibly soothing and reminiscent of those mid-2000s pop-folk songs, a few years before the label “folk” began to morph and glue itself together with the notion of expensive, organic, soy milk, gluten-free iced lattes.

“En Libertad y Obligado” feels hipster and DIY, before those two labels had any negative connotations. For a 2014 song, Deniz captures a melody that feels familiar and welcoming, regardless of whether you speak Spanish or not, allowing its audiences to connect to it.

Now, if we discuss the lyrics themselves, the song takes on a more profound meaning. The title and chorus of the song speak of two cities in Latin America, “Libertad,” which means “freedom” in Spanish, a town in Uruguay, and “Obligado,” which could be translated as “required to” or “forced to,” is also a town in Argentina. With this funny, little game, Gonzalo is telling his lover he will love her anywhere, in both Uruguay and Argentina, freely or obliged, a pattern the lyrics follow throughout the song, as the author sings how there is no way he could ever stop loving them, anywhere, anytime, regardless of his own intent or hers.
This double-meaning, initially hidden from me as I only translated the title, hit me like a thunderbolt from the blue, as the song managed to combine both the physical/geographical with the internal/emotional. Gonzalo managed to achieve this in such a short space of time and a small amount of words.

Since then, I have gone on to listen to a lot more of his work—thanks to Spotify having a “This is Franny Glass†playlist—and the quiet genius of Gonzalo’s writing shines through in each and every song.

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