The beautiful people of Montevideo beautifully sing their national anthem!

Uruguay’s anthem is probably my favourite – it’s got a tune as rambunctious as the Marseillaise, but with all the blood replaced by a joy for life. I think that’s why everyone in the clip below’s smiling. Although, yes, that might also be because my filming was so incompetent!

I made this recently while in Montevideo researching the lives of the men who wrote the anthem – one of whom also happened to write a poem called Apology for the Penis, which I thoroughly recommend you look up.

My book includes the full story of the anthem. It’s surprisingly tragic, apart from the Apology for the Penis bit, obviously. It’s out next month. Pre-order it now! Please. I need to eat!

República o Muerte se va a casa!

A few years ago, when I came up with the idea of writing a book about national anthems, the easiest part turned out to be choosing its name.

I scrolled down a list of the world’s anthems hoping to find something that could work as a book title. God Save the Queen? Nope! La Marseillaise? Next! Land der Berge, Land am Strome? Er…perhaps not.

But as soon as I hit Republic or Death – the name of Paraguay’s anthem – I knew I had a winner. It’s a phrase that sums up everything about anthems: how they can be gloriously over-the-top and passionate, but how many of them are responsible for inspiring some of the bloodiest moments in history.

Fortunately, the anthem sounds great – starting off with a rollicking 50-second intro, and then featuring so many time changes it’s near impossible to sing, more an opera than a song. Once I’d heard it, there was no going back.

This weekend I’m finally heading to Paraguay to research that song, its history and meaning today. Unsurprisingly, I’m a bit excited.

The composer behind República o Muerte also happened to write Uruguay’s amazing anthem – the less well named Himno Nacional (no, that wouldn’t work as a book title!) – so I’ll also be heading there.

If you’re in either country and fancy a cerverza or two, let me know, otherwise I’ll write something when I’m back. Abrazos!

(Apologies if the Spanish in this post makes no sense. I’ve only been learning the language for three weeks!)