Juanes releases his fifth studio album on Universal Music Latino. "P.A.R.C.E." takes its title from the Colombian term "parce" or "parcero," slang for bud or friend. "The entire concept is about friends and friendship," says Juanes, real name Juan Esteban Aristizabal. "Even the cover uses pictures of many of my fans."
On the day he got his mastered album copy, Juanes invited Billboard.com for a private listening session at his home studio in Miami, and gave us a blow by blow of the stories behind some of the album's tracks.
1. "Quimera" (Chimera)
"My albums always have one or two socially-minded tracks, and this is a very literal track that speaks about what's happened in the world in the last months: The earthquake in Chile, the earthquake in Haiti. But despite everything's that's gone on, the answer is still love."
2. "Regalito" (Little Gift)
"This is one of those songs I like that's full of double entendres, kind of "guasca" [the Colombian beat prevalent in many Juanes hits] -- that kind of thing. I need some of the songs to be lighter, not so transcendental. I like to balance things out with these more up-tempo, party tracks."
3. "Yerbatero" (Medicine Man)
"This is a song that stems from my childhood. In [my home state of Antioquia] medicine men were very famous. As a kid, I used to go to a little town called Carolina, and I remembered this character that would come in and sell all kinds of things and spoke very, very fast. I had already written the music and I liked the theme. I always write the music first. I record improvisations over a series of chord changes and then I record several takes of guitar solo. I look for those snippets of melody I like the best and I create a kind of skeleton of the song, but everything is improvised. Then, when the song is done, I start to dress it up. For example, if it needs keyboard, I decide whether it's a Rolland, or a Moog, or whatever."
4. "La Razón" (The Reason)
"It's dedicated to [wife] Karen and the children [Paloma, 7, Luna, 5 and Dante, 1]. It reflects the happiness in our house and the expectation surrounding the arrival of Dante. It's for the children. They're the happiest aspect of my life and what I always dreamt. I come from a very big family -- I'm the youngest of six -- with many cousins."
"This is a story [a small-town massacre] that took place in Antioquia in the 1980s, and I wanted to recreate the town and the bar, and as a result, the sound is more folksy. That's why the music has that air of canteen about it. And tango, because that's what they listen to in those towns. I got the idea from a book called "The Extermination of the UP" [or Patriotic Union, the leftist political party], and the story inspired me. But the song, even with all that, is an up-beat song, which I wanted to dedicate to the memory of those who died."
6. "El Amor Lo Cura Todo" (Love Cures Everything)
"This track talks about how no matter how difficult things are, in the end we must find a way to overcome those difficulties. Music is like therapy to me. I use it to heal. All my sadness, my pain, my happiness. And sometimes, people who identify with me identify with my songs. It's like a personal catharsis."
"This was one of the last tracks I did. It's a song that reaffirms the love I feel for Karen. She's the mother of my children, and she loves me and understands me and has put up with all my craziness. We're very much a team."