On the occasion of Mexico's bicentennial, the national daily El Universal daily has posted a list of the top 10 "most Mexican" songs as selected by its readers, along with classic videos of these gems as performed by Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Lola Beltrán, Lucha Villa and others. There are the standards ("Mexico Lindo y Querido") as well as at least one great drinking song ("El Rey" by the legendary José Alfredo Jiménez, one of my favorites).
How and why is a Cuban-American writer from L.A. into old Mexican music? As I mentioned in an earlier post today, Mexico is one of the great cultural hubs of Latin America, which means that as children in Cuba (another great cultural hub), my parents were growing up as much on Mexican cowboy films and rancheras as they were on mambo and son. I fell in love with the Mexican classics as a kid when I first heart a scratchy recording of "El Jinete," a quintessentially Mexican song by Jiménez, one of the nation's great all-time bards, about love and death as experienced by a grieving, wandering horseman.
I'm a big fan of Jiménez's music, which brings me to ask: Dear Universal readers, where is "Camino de Guanajuato?" Where is "El Corrido del Caballo Blanco?" My own list would go on, but I realize that a top-ten list is just that. El Universal's list is quite good as it is, plus the standards in it would have been difficult to leave out.
Though for good measure, I'll throw in this short version of "Mexico Lindo y Querido" that I heard today, as performed by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2007 on Univision's "Piolín por la Mañana," radio show. He doesn't sing it nearly as well as Jorge Negrete does in the version above, but still, enjoy.