by Jim Benning | 09.17.10 | 2:10 PM ET
We just linked to a list of the 10 “most Mexican” songs of all time, and that got me thinking about my favorite songs about Mexico that aren’t Mexican at all—songs that were, in fact, written and recorded by gringos.
Here are my top four. What are yours?
‘Mexico’ by James Taylor
‘Mexican Radio’ by Wall of Voodoo
by Jim Benning | 09.16.10 | 3:05 PM ET
El Universal has offered up a list of the 10 “canciones más mexicanas.” Great stuff from Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Jorge Negrete and others.
Here’s one that made the list, Pedro Infante singing “Cielito Lindo”:
by Jim Benning | 09.09.10 | 1:34 PM ET
The “Bicycle Diaries” audio book comes out Sept. 28. I’m intrigued. From DavidByrne.com:
The audiobook version of Bicycle Diaries is available as individual chapters in a podcast-style download exclusively via this site. In addition to music and narration by DB, it also features location sounds, creating an atmosphere more akin to a radio show than a simple reading of the book.
We published Cycle Killer, an excerpt from the book, last year.
by World Hum | 09.03.10 | 3:49 PM ET
Algerian musician Rachid Taha. I discovered him recently on a flight—he was a featured artist on Delta’s in-flight audio entertainment system. He has covered the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah.” Here’s a taste of something perhaps slightly less familiar:
by Jim Benning | 09.02.10 | 3:42 PM ET
Just one example of many:
by Eva Holland | 08.17.10 | 5:13 PM ET
Sweden—at least, it is if you adjust for national GDP while measuring any given country’s share of the pop music market. Foreign Policy has a cool explanatory graphic.
Don’t worry, America: Writer Joshua Keating also notes that “the world’s most popular artists, no matter where they’re from, often perform rock, R&B, and hip-hop tunes that are unmistakably American in origin.” USA! USA! (Via @nobauerm)
by Michael Yessis | 07.29.10 | 12:25 PM ET
In this Welsh town, "Chips, cheese, curry makes you feel brand new." Take that New York and Jay-Z.
by Eva Holland | 07.19.10 | 2:01 PM ET
The magazine thought most states could use an update, so they picked a fresh 50, drawing only from songs written since the turn of the century. It’s a diverse list; Paste’s Josh Jackson notes that “[s]ome are marked improvements, while others might not have quite the boosterism state tourism boards long for.” Indeed. (Via @JennaSchnuer)
by Tom Swick | 07.06.10 | 12:07 PM ET
After the flood, Nashville sings its way out of trouble
by Pam Mandel | 06.23.10 | 8:50 AM ET
In Skagway, Alaska, Pam Mandel finds an unlikely way to salvage a bad trip
by Eva Holland | 06.10.10 | 3:13 PM ET
In the Globe and Mail, Peter Cheney looks back on four decades of road trips, and the music that accompanied them. It’s a good read—here’s a taste:
Music always seems best on the road. As a little boy, I strained to hear the Jackson Five over a fading AM station as my dad drove our 1963 Mercury Comet from Calgary to Kingston in the dead of winter. The Comet only had a single, tinny speaker, but the Jackson’s never sounded quite as good as they did that winter day, their voices soaring over the hum of our studded snow tires.
Indeed. We offered our picks for the ultimate travel soundtrack here.
by Jim Benning | 06.08.10 | 5:02 PM ET
In 1999, two years before we created World Hum, Michael Yessis came back from a month-long trip to Spain and told me about a song he’d heard in a bar in Madrid. Two nights in a row, sometime well after midnight, the bartender played an anthemic folk song on the stereo called “Ojalá,” and as Mike recalled it, each time the song came on, the patrons erupted in singing, with dozens of locals joining in.
He wasn’t sure what the song was about, but he thought I’d like it, and sure enough, when I finally tracked down a copy of it, I did. I’ve been a big fan of its singer-songwriter, Silvio Rodríguez, ever since.
Finally, the Cuban folk singer, now 63, is touring the U.S. He has already played to a sold-out Carnegie Hall—this New York Times piece and this Christopher Baker blog post are well worth a read—and he’s scheduled to play Oakland, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Orlando.
Rodriguez is a controversial figure outside of Cuba. Many Cuban exiles despise him because he has, at times, defended the Revolution. I love him for his music, not his politics. Besides, as the New York Times put it, “Through the decades Mr. Rodríguez has become more poet than propagandist.” He sings about life.
How excited am I about this tour? I’m going to reschedule a flight and eat a hefty penalty fee so I can see him play.
Here’s a video of Rodriguez performing “Ojalá” in Madrid’s Plaza de Toros—you can hear the crowd singing along, line for line, and imagine the scene in that Madrid bar. I’ve since heard the song played by folk singers in cafes and bars from Mexico to Argentina. It’s wildly popular. Its meaning is the subject of great debate.
The version of the song below is available on the album “Mano a Mano”—an excellent live album that also features Spanish trovador Luis Eduardo Aute performing.
by David Frey | 04.28.10 | 9:15 AM ET
David Frey asks the acclaimed musician about a new documentary and album
by Jim Benning | 04.22.10 | 4:17 PM ET
Fish rock is music aimed at promoting greater fish consumption in Japan, where it’s on the decline. Public radio’s The World explains.
Here’s a, uh, taste.
by Eva Holland | 04.07.10 | 10:09 AM ET
Lapham’s Quarterly has a list of the tracks that were launched into space aboard Voyager 1 and 2 back in 1977. Thankfully, none of the top five songs we never want to hear in space made the cut. (Via Kottke)
by Eva Holland | 03.22.10 | 2:18 PM ET
The veteran British DJ, who spent the last four decades bringing world music to a wider audience, has died at 68. The Guardian notes his impact on the globalized music scene:
His discoveries were numerous, from Johnnie Allen’s Cajun version of Chuck Berry’s Promised Land in the early 1970s, through Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita to Mariza, the young singer of Portuguese fado music who went from appearances on Charlie’s show in 2001 to sellout concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Throughout the last decade he compiled CD anthologies, presenting the best of new music from around the world.
(Thanks for the tip, Frank.)
by Chris Epting | 03.19.10 | 1:07 PM ET
Chris Epting explores the sights, from the Hollywood bathroom where The Doors recorded "L.A. Woman" to the place the music died
by Michael Yessis | 03.18.10 | 9:15 AM ET
The singer-songwriter behind Big Star, the Box Tops and classic travel song “The Letter” died of a heart attack in New Orleans. He was 59.
The greatest tribute song to Chilton has already been written, by Paul Westerberg:
by Pico Iyer | 03.15.10 | 11:21 AM ET
Pico Iyer on the power of travel to make a forgettable Glenn Frey song last forever
by Eva Holland | 03.08.10 | 5:54 PM ET
Writer Steve Almond dissects the classic travel tune, Toto’s “Africa.” I’ll never hear the song the same way again. (Via @KelseyTimmerman)