Taken from the new various-artists compilation My Greatest Revenge: Flamenco Recordings, 1904-1938, the track “It Was Because I Didn’t Feel Like It” by vocalist Juanito Mojama is a poignant audio document of both autochthonic-folk music—in this case, flamenco—as well as a mysterious Spanish musician whose career has been barely tracked in other similar compilations and a handful of academic essays.
Born into a gypsy family in Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz., Juan Valencia Carpio was considered a prodigy as a dancer and vocalist. Using the stage name Juanito Mojama, he recorded a few esoteric early-20th-century flamenco songs: “It Was Because I Didn’t Feel Like It” being one of the extant recordings. Accompanied by virtuosic nylon-string guitar (whether this Mojama as well is unclear), the three-minute performance features Mojama pleading and intoning by way of soaring vocalism, notes wavering and bending in an emotionality, plunging then ascending, that surpasses any limitations of indigenous genres, language, place, and even lyrical translation.
Listening to “It Was Because I Didn’t Feel Like It” a century after it was recorded is akin to communicating with some pained troubadour briefly materializing from a ghost dimension, and is a bonus find in the current ongoing and archival deep-dig of “lost music” the world over. The rest of My Greatest Revenge: Flamenco Recordings, 1904-1938 is equally rewarding, another notable release from the obsessive music-archivists at UK label Death is Not the End. Cassettes and digital album versions available here.