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"John El Esquizofrénico" by Calle 13, English translation of lyrics

"John the Schizophrenic"
Album: Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo (The Ones Behind Are Coming With Me), 2008
Style: Spoken story with carnival music background, horror/fantasy
Country: Puerto Rico

Listen:

This is another example of Calle 13 combining storytelling, creepiness, and violent tendencies. This is a twisted song, great in its creepiness and narrative style. It seems to be influenced by The Nightmare Before Christmas, with at least one Edward Scissorhands reference, and some of the scenes described preempt the 2012 film ParaNorman. These are all great films that I recommend, by the way. Meanwhile, listen to Calle 13's song at YouTube here.

[Expand embedded video]

Translation:

Mi nombre es John Alejandro y soy esquizofrénico.
No soy nada de atractivos, mucho menos fotogénico.
Mi mejor amigo es un payaso que me aconseja;
Tiene ojos de rana y vive dentro de mi oreja.


My name is John Alejandro and I am schizophrenic.
I am not at all attractive, much less photogenic.
My best friend is a clown who gives me advice;
He has the eyes of a frog and lives inside my ear.

Él habla mucho y a veces se molesta,
Y cuando le pregunto cosas casi nunca me contesta.


He talks a lot and sometimes he gets annoyed,
And when I ask him things he almost never answers me.

Pero él da la vida por mí y yo doy la vida por él,
También sabemos que hay un desnivel
Dentro de nuestro redondel.


But he would give his life for me and I would give my life for him,
We also know that there is a disparity
In our arena.

La gente piensa que yo estoy enfermo
Porque corro por la ciudad con mi cuaderno,
Hablando con los perros,
Con pantalones cortos y unas botas de vaqueros,
Un paraguas en la mano y un sombrero de torero.


People think that I am ill
Because I run through the city with my notebook,
Talking with the dogs,
With short pants and cowboy boots,
An umbrella in my hand and a bullfighter hat [*alt. matador hat].

Pero no estoy mal del todo, también hablo con la gente;
Digo muchas mentiras para jugarle con la mente.


But I am not completely sick, I also speak with people;
I tell a lot of lies to play with their minds.

Me gusta dar mal las direcciones del camino
Para que la gente siempre llegue tarde a su destino.
Ando con dos hadas madrinas volándome por encima,
Cargando jeringuilla repletas de vitaminas con morfinas.


I like to give wrong directions
So that people always arrive late to their destination.
I go with two fairy godmothers flying above me,
Carrying little syringes filled with vitamins with morphine.

Hasta que mis venas se inunden,
Pues me la paso haciendo muecas y la gente se confunde.
Perdóneme si me estoy riendo demasiado.
Es que ayer se murió mi madre y me botaron del trabajo.


Until my veins are inundated,
Well, I spend my time making faces and people get confused.
Forgive me if I am laughing too much.
It’s just that yesterday my mother died and they kicked me out of my job.

Debo 6 meses de renta, en mi cartera ni un centavo,
Y no me baño desde octubre del año pasado.
Tengo mi cuerpo todo cicatrizado,
Con cortaduras profundas y quemaduras en primer grado.


I owe 6 months of rent, in my wallet not even a cent,
And I haven’t bathed since October of last year.
My body is all scarred up
With deep cuts and first-degree burns.

Pero no es nada grave, nada delicado,
Es que nunca me doy cuenta porque me la paso todo el día anestesiado.


But it is nothing serious, not a delicate topic [*lit. nothing delicate],
Since I never find out because I spend all day on anesthesia.

Me gusta caminar solo, así hablo con el viento.
Nunca he tenido sexo como una monja en un convento.
Tranquilo, aunque sé que puedo explotar
De manera repentina como una mina en la segunda guerra mundial.


I like to walk alone, that way I can talk with the wind.
I have never had sex, like a nun in a convent.
Keep calm, although I know that I can explode
Suddenly like a mine in the second world war.

Soy un psicomaniático antisocial;
Luego de saludarte me lavo las manos con jabón antibacterial.


I am an antisocial psychopath; [*psicomaniático = psycho-maniac]
After greeting you, I wash my hands with antibacterial soap.

Soy un paciente mental, lo admito,
Pero eso no te da derecho a mirarme de reojo
Y a tratarme de lejitos.


I am a mental patient, I admit it,
But that does not give you the right to look at me from the corners of your eyes
And to keep me at arm’s length [*lit. And to treat me from afar].

Ven, acércate, no te voy hacer nada;
Lo que parece sangre en mi camisa es salsa de tomate derramada.
Ven amiguito, acércate aquí;
Las tijeras que traigo son para cortar el jardín.


Come, get closer, I am not going to do anything to you;
What looks like blood on my shirt is spilled tomato sauce.
Come, little friend, get close to me;
The scissors that I carry are for cutting the garden. [*Edward Scissorhands reference]

Chorus:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Soy un asesino en serie, como los de miniserie.
Detrás de la puerta, colecciono gente muerta.
Para poder matar el hambre, desayuno cereal con sangre.
No tengo familia, porque maté a mi familia.


I am a serial killer, like the ones in miniseries.
Behind (closed) doors, I collect dead people.
To kill my hunger, I eat cereal with blood for breakfast.
I don’t have family, because I killed my family.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

A veces vienen doctores a visitarme
Con disfraces de fantasmas a tratar de alegrarme
Porque sufro de trastornos.
Ayer metí mi gato en horno
Y su rabo me lo colgué en el cuello de adorno.


Sometimes doctors come to visit me
With ghost costumes to try to cheer me up
Because I suffer from disorders.
Yesterday I put my cat in the oven
And I hung its tail around my neck for decoration.

Cuando me dan los episodios empiezo a sudar sodio
Y grito muy fuerte para poder sacar el odio.


When I get episodes, I begin to sweat sodium
And I yell very loudly (to be able) to get all the hate out of me.

También me dan miedo las sombras.
Por eso no me atrevo a ir al baño
Y me orino en la alfombra.


Shadows also scare me.
That’s why I don’t dare go to the bathroom
And I urinate on the carpet.

Es normal: yo solo tengo 13 años.
Todavía corro bicicletas y no hablo con extraños,
Pero si no tomo mis medicinas durante el año
Todos los días sueño con poder hacerte daño.


It’s normal: I am only 13 years old.
I still ride bicycles and I do not speak with strangers,
But if I don’t take my medicines throughout the year
Every day I dream about causing you harm. [*lit. Every day I dream with being able to cause you harm.]

Picarte en pedacitos con estas mismas tijeras,
Meterte en bolsas plásticas y guardarte en la nevera.
No se asusten; hoy me tome mis medicamentos.
Estoy de buen humor bien contento con buen aliento.


Cutting you into little pieces with these very scissors,
Putting you into plastic bags and storing you in the freezer.
Don’t get scared; I took my medicine today.
I am in a good mood, very happy, with good breath.

Yo sé que llevo cara de serio pero estoy contento;
Ahora mismo voy a jugar con mis amigos en el cementerio.
De hecho estoy enamorado de unos de mis amigos.
Hace un año murió sin dejar rastros ni testigos.


I know that I am showing a serious face, but I am happy;
I am going to go play with my friends in the cemetery right now.
Speaking of which, I am in love with one of my friends.
It has been a year since she died without a trace or witnesses.

Es una niña hermosa con la cara color violeta.
Todas las noches me acompaña a correr bicicleta.
Ella no habla porque es sordomuda
Y por eso la gente piensa que estoy hablando solo
Y que necesito ayuda.


She is a beautiful girl with a violet face.
Every night she accompanies me on a bike ride.
She does not speak because she is a deaf mute
And because of that people think that I am talking to myself
And that I need help.

[Chorus: "Soy un asesino en serie, como los de miniserie...", x2]

Translation Notes:

Él habla mucho y a veces se molesta
He talks a lot and sometimes he gets annoyed

In Spanish, molestar means "to bother/annoy" and molestarse means "to get bothered/annoyed." The words look like "to molest" in English because the roots are the same, but they do not mean this.

---

También sabemos que hay un desnivel dentro de nuestro redondel.

We also know that there is a disparity in our arena.
We also know that there is a disbalance in our bullring. [*alt.]

The "arena" or "bullring" here is their life and all the people in it. This line precedes the stanza about how people think that he is crazy, a label he thinks is incorrect.

Alternatively -- and, mind, this isn't at all the literal meaning -- I get the impression that the narrator is suggesting obliquely that they know they have a mental illness. My first impression of this line is something along the lines of:

We know that there is a disbalance in our heads.

Although redondel does NOT mean head, the word is so similar to the adjective redondo (round), and redondel SOUNDS like a noun meaning something round. Literally, it means arena/bullring, but if you ignored that meaning, you could mistakenly interpret redondel as some obscure word for "head." I think this might be intentional, but as a translator, I can't really put it in the main translation because it's technically wrong.
Tags: calle 13
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