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June 30, 2015

Book Notes - Bill Hillmann "Mozos"

Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Bill Hillman's Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain masterfully chronicles the years of his life spent running with the bulls at Pamplona.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Bill Hillmann's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain:

"San Fermin Pedimos"
This is the prayer Mozos (bull-runners) sing before the beginning of the encierro (bull-run). It is a prayer to San Fermin, the patron saint of Fiesta in Pamplona. Runners gather at the beginning of the course and sing the song while waving their newspapers. The lyrics ask San Fermin to protect them. I don't regularly walk down for the prayer; maybe I should start—it could have kept a bull from goring me on July 9, 2014.

"Come a Little Closer" Cage The Elephant
After the infamous goring I stayed in Pamplona for about a month, living in iconic American bull runner Joe Distler's apartment. The place is like an encierro museum. I wrote every day for hours while listening to Cage The Elephant on repeat. Come a little closer really struck a chord with me. It seemed like it was written from the bull's perspective, talking to me.

Brevito (the bull who gored me) knew he would see me on the street that morning. It was our destiny to meet that way. I knew it too but still I thought I could change it. "Want to see if you can change it. Still I know I'll see you there." I've seen many things on the streets of Pamplona, The bulls have visited me in my dreams.

"Do you understand the things that you've been seeing? Do you understand the things that you've been dreaming? Come a little closer then you'll see." I got a little closer to Brevito and he showed me everything.

"El Rey" Jose Alfredo
My wife Enid's favorite Mexican folk singer is Jose Alfredo. His masterpiece is "El Rey." The song is so popular—it is a major hit to this day in Pamplona; it's one of the songs they always play at the closing ceremony. The song also is dear to me because I've spent much of my life poor but I've always done what I wanted and lived the life I chose and so, "With or without money. I'll always do what I want. And my words are the law. I don't have neither a throne nor a queen. Nor anyone who understands me. But I'm still the king."

"Take It to the Limit" The Eagles
One of my great maestros was the late Bomber. This man was the greatest traveler I've ever met. He summited Everest and also did some work for the CIA. Bomber was like a bull-run sorcerer. He was an incredible bull runner for decades and the way he talked about bull running gave me shivers and inspired the hell out of me. Bomber will always be close to my heart when I'm in Pamplona, and when I take it to the limit on the street, it's for him.

"Sunny" Boney M
Much of this memoir is the story of my wife's and my love. This song, "Sunny," really sums up what she has done for my life. "Sunny, thank you for the truth you let me see." There's plenty of great lines in it. But my wife is definitely my Sunny.

"Try Me" Dej Loaf
A lot of strange things happened after my goring. People I didn't know chimed in by the thousands from around the world to say they wished I'd died and various other nasty things. A lot of people who I thought were my friends took the opportunity to back stab me. So this song goes out to all of those people who kicked me while I was down. If you see me around, you better not come anywhere near me and sure as hell better not try me, because, "Let a nigga try me, try me, I'm a kill his whole mafuckin family, and I ain't play'n with nobody, fuck around and I'ma catch a body."

"Bad Blood" Bastille
After I vent, imagining punching several people as hard as I possibly can in the face, I start to look at things like the Buddhist that I am. I realize that any negativity I inflict will be returned onto me a thousand fold and so I decide to just let it go. "All this bad blood here won't you let it dry. It's been cold for years won't you let it lie."

"Pobre de Mi" and "Ya Falta Menos" songs
Fiesta de San Fermin's closing ceremony happens at Pamplona's Town Hall. Thousands gather just before midnight with lit candles to sing "Pobre de Mi--poor me, poor me, San Fermin is over." It's an incredibly sad time for me but then the song turns and twists into the "Ya Falta Menos," a peppy song which is a countdown to next year's festival. "Ya Falta Menos" means "Fiesta is almost here!" Ya Falta Menos is a mantra that keeps me going throughout the year as I struggle with bipolar disorder. And as I write this, I can't help but smile and think, Ya Falta Menos!

Bill Hillmann and Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain links:

excerpt from the book

Publishers Weekly review

Chicago Reader interview with the author
Chicago Tonight interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Old Neighborhood
The Nervous Breakdown self-interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

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