1) Macusa by Buena Vista Social Club
Tú me quisiste, Macusa…
This song is off the album “Lost and Found,” a “a mixture of leftover tracks from the Egrem studio sessions…and live performances” (Wikipedia). Like many Latin American music aficionados I was already familiar with the Buena Vista Social Club album, but hadn’t heard this song. This song embodies the alegre spirit of the cubanos. Cuba (tied with Alaska), is the most special place I’ve ever traveled to. Sometimes a trip should be measured not by how much fun you had at the time, or how stimulated you were, but by how long its memories last. My memories of Cuba, looking out over the Strait of Florida, feeling the wind on the malecón, dodging rainstorms look for WiFi at Hotel Presidente, and swimming behind the Karl Marx Theater, will never leave.
2) Veinte años by Buena Vista Social Club
Que te importe que te ame
Si tú no me quieres ya?
What does it matter if I love you
If you don’t love me anymore?
This is my go-to song for serenading people, even if that person is just me, sitting alone on my couch.
3) Tú sí sabes quererme by Natalia Lafourcade
Ha pasado tanto tiempo….
So much time has passed.
Indeed, so much time has passed. Almost two months have already passed since I arrived in GDL. It’s already March!
4) La gozadera by Gente de Zona ft. Marc Anthony
Miamo me lo confirmó…
Marc Anthony has made a huge (see: moderate) comeback in the last few years, mostly because of this song. This song has a special dance where you move your head in a circle and try to become nauseous. My favorite part of the video are the myriad dancers dressed and body-painted to look like the myriad flags of Latin America. This song IS Latin America, though of course not as much as this song (which is first on the list of honorable mentions).
5) Eléctrico by Calle 13
Algo eléctrico, energético…
If there’s one song on this list I can almost guarantee you won’t like, it’s this one. This is because the opening beat is a beat discordant, and because the song is a bit monotonous. But then comes 0:49. The beat in the background. And if you don’t start moving your head a little bit, or convulsing, there’s something wrong with you. Or with me.
Bonus: Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung
Take your baby by the hand…
Not exactly a Latin American song in that it’s not Latin American at all. Details. I think my favorite part of this video is actually the guy’s outfit. Look at the pleats on those khakis. That sweater. You can’t get pleats like that without trying.
Shane Ryan has a nice piece in Paste Magazine about how these lyrics are “secretly horrifying,” though I don’t think you need the word “secretly” in that title.
The more I watch this the pleated khakis might not actually be the best part. The best part might be how he says “Take your baby by the hand…” at the beginning and MIMES the action of taking your proverbial baby by her proverbial hand. As if we didn’t get it.
Have a favorite song in Spanish? Portuguese? Let me know in the comments.
A big thanks Jenny Newman for supporting this “bloog” and to all February Patrons. I’m now up to $25 and plan on using this to take a small outing of some kind this Sunday, March 4th. Sponsor today to contribute to the April trip.
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