45: Jorge Drexler "Everything comes from empathy"
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Singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler had been on the road on and off for nearly two years when we sat down for our breakfast conversation in late 2015. Born in Uruguay, he moved to Madrid 20 years ago and has set up his life in Spain. But in recent years, his performance career has been more oriented towards the Americas, and this means that in the space of two years he “crossed the Atlantic 40 times.” Along the way, he’s won multiple Latin Grammys, and Oscar and a large collection of accolades and admirers. But the travel and displacement can take their toll.
So when we sat down at his kitchen table to talk, he said “You’re sitting in paradise with me right now.”
Our conversation started with the simple question: “Tell me where you’ve been.” And this led to an incredible collection of stories, commentaries and observations about the nature of things as he sees them. He candidly revealed his thoughts on songwriting, the importance of empathy, the subtle distinction between sincerity and authenticity, and the relationship of artist and audience (“Everything comes from empathy…Go inside one human being and you will have access to all human beings.”).
Along the way, he also gave a detailed tutorial on one of his passions: the Spanish poetic form called “Decimas”.
As it turns out, crossing the Atlantic is not only a professional necessity for Drexler. It’s also symbolic of a greater reality for him. He says, “As a boy, I had to understand through love that there’s more than one way to think about things… I tend to come to a place where I have two options and I build a bridge between the two of them. I think I realized that I came to this planet to build bridges.”