Simón Díaz: composer of ‘Caballo viejo’
Simón Díaz is probably the most famous composer and interpreter of traditional Venezuelan music. His hit Caballo viejo has been recorded more than three hundred times in more than a dozen languages.
Caballo Viejo (Old Horse), was allegedly written for a young beauty queen by the singer. He might be an old horse, goes the song, but he still fancies his chances. It has the typical Llanos (Venezuelan plains) accompaniment of maracas, harp and cuatro (small, four stringed guitar). The Gipsy Kings called this song “Bamboleo” and had a huge hit with it. But Simon Diaz wrote it.
The sound of Venezuelan music
Diaz was born in 1928, and spent his life promoting the sound of Venezuelan music. In addition to along music career, he was a regular appearance on TV in his later years. He also had a daily radio show for twenty-five years which focused on folklore and Venezuelan music.
Artists from various other disciplines have used Díaz’s work. For example, German choreographer Pina Bausch included some of Díaz’s songs in her work Nur Du. Also, the film director Pedro Almodóvar included Díaz’s song “Tonada de Luna Llena” as part of the soundtrack for his film The Flower of My Secret, sung by the Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso. Manuel Galbán also recorded an instrumental version, produced by Ry Cooder.
This version is probably the grooviest. You can grab it now from Amazon.
On September 30, 2008, the Latin Grammy Awards announced that it would honor Díaz with a Lifetime Achievement Award, (El Premio del Consejo Directivo). The same year, Diaz was awarded the Latin Recording Academy Trustees Award, presented by Venezuelan salsa singer Oscar D’León.
After battling Alzheimer’s disease for many years, Simon Diaz died on 19 February 2014