Saturday, 23 August 2014

Oaxaca - Mexican Playlist

Something I always love about researching for this blog is discovering new music from the places I'm blogging about.  As Oaxaca is the first Mexican state that I've blogged about, I decided to cast my net wide and get a sense of the kind of music that's popular in Mexico as a whole - a bit like I did with Brazilian music when I was blogging about Amazonas.

It's a rather random selection of music I've come across on YouTube or Spotify, I hope you enjoy listening to this playlist as much as I have!

1. Nuestra Cobardia (Our cowardice) by Los 3 Ases (The Three Aces)

From the moment I heard it, this old-fashioned bolero really appealed to me.  You don't see a lot of trios around these days and there's something very quaint about Los 3 Ases.  They formed as a trio in Mexico City's cabaret scene and found a lot of success, touring Latin America during the 1950's.  I guess, as a gay man, I'm always very aware of the hidden LGBT narrative - how LGBT love is so often erased from romantic life and finds itself encoded between the lines of a song.

I don't know if anyone's noticed before, but the lyrics of Nuestra Cobardia are quite suggestive of a forbidden (gay?) love - see my evidence below:

Nos hemos separado, por la falsa razón
(We have seperated, for a false reason)

Yo te quise estrechar, con ilusión besar, mas no podía 
(I wanted to grasp you, with the illusion of kissing, but couldn't)
Te fue imposible hablar, y todo quedo igual, por nuestra cobardía
(It was impossible to speak, so everything stayed the same, because of our cowardice)

I rest my case!  And here's the video from YouTube, so you can enjoy it for yourself:

2. Cielito Lindo (Little Sweetie) by Mariachi Mexico

I'm not sure any song evokes Mexico more than Cielito Lindo, at least for a non-Mexican like me.  I quite like the warm, brassy sound of mariachi music, although it is a bit of a Mexican cliche and I'm sure that listening to too much mariachi music could do some permanent damage!  Originally from Jalisco, the word mariachi is believed to have derived from the French word for marriage,  mariage.

Cliched as it might be, I can't help myself singing along to this, especially the chorus:

Ay, yai, yai, yai, / Aye, ya, ya, yai
Canta y no llores, / Sing, don't cry
Porque cantando se alegran, / Because singing cheers them up
cielito lindo, los corazones / Little Sweetie, the hearts

I'm pasting in the YouTube video so you can also sing along!

3. Entrega Total (Total Surrender) by Luis Miguel

Okay, okay, I'll admit it - I'm a hopeless romantic!  But what would a Mexican playlist be without a bit of Luis Miguel?  Although he was born in Puerto Rico, Luis Miguel has become one of Mexico's biggest ever stars, so much so, that he's often called El Sol de Mexico, the Sun of Mexico.

I particularly liked this track, from his 2004 album Mèxico en la piel (Mexico under your skin), especially the lyrics:

Llévame / Take me
De ser posible hasta la misma eternidad / if possible to the same eternity
Donde perdure nuestro amor / where our love will last forever
Porque tú / Because you
Eres toda mi felicidad / You are all of my happiness

4. Te Perdiste Mi Amor (I lost my love) by Thalia feat. Prince Royce

I've also really enjoyed listening to Thalia, one of Mexico's new superstars and very much a product of the middle-class Mexico that exists in telenovelas - the Mexican dream, if you like.  Thalia was born in Mexico City and has become Mexico's most successful female artists.

I chose this song because I like it, but also because it demonstrates the duality of US-Mexican culture.  A Mexican artist's fame and fortune these days depends just as much on the Hispanic audiences of the US, as their home-grown audience in Mexico.

Prince Royce is a Hispanic artist who was born in the Bronx and whose parents come from the Dominican Republic.  In fact this song is in the Bachata style that is typically Dominican.  I like the fact that Latin American music transcends all of these cultural boundaries and it's interesting that they also throw in a tagline in English, to appeal to an even wider audience.  It's a really nice collaboration!

5. La Zandunga, traditional, sung by Chavela Vargas

La Zandunga is Oaxaca's unofficial anthem.  Sandunga is an obscure Spanish word that means something along the lines of 'elegance'.  It's a traditional Spanish melody that has been given a Zapotec/Mexican theme - that of a young woman mourning the death of her mother.  There are many different versions of this song, but I loved this version by Chavela Vargas, the Costa Rican singer who had such an amazing voice!

6. El Abuelo (The Grandpa) by La Furia Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan Fury)

Finally, after all that heartbreak and pain, I thought I'd include something light-hearted and fun - a song called El Abuelo by the Oaxacan group La Furia Oaxaqueña.  I have a feeling that this is exactly the kind of music you might hear on the streets of Oaxaca city, when there's a fiesta on.  Enjoy!

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