I’m not the worlds biggest music lover. Sure, there are bands I like, but the new songs or groups that come along and appeal to me are far and few between. I don’t like nightclubs or modern pubs that blast out music at a deafening volume, because quite frankly, I’m deaf enough as it is thank you very much. I’m much happier in Starbucks, with a bit of easy listening stuff being played discreetly in the background. And I’m much happier in Mexico, where there is almost always the sound of a mariachi band in the distance, or the sound of some old crooner coming out of a window, gently singing a traditional ballad.
There are exceptions of course. The metro is ‘plagued’ by CD vendors with their large, yet somehow portable speakers blasting out all sorts of distorted sound. But as far as distortion goes, the microbus drivers have that award wrapped up. But every now and again I get introduced to a piece of modern Mexican music that I like, and for that I thank the microbus drivers and CD vendors of Mexico City. Although forgiveness for the other rubbish won’t be forthcoming.
Because I don’t pay too much attention to the music scene, exposure to Mexican music in public places is pretty much the only way I’ll get to hear it. I’ve grown to like Mana, particularly Mariposa and Si No Te Hubieras Ido. But more often than not, I’ll hear a song I like, over and over again, without ever finding out who sings it or what it’s called. To be fair, I only try so hard, which is not very, so the lack of answers is not terribly surprising.
In 2003 I backpacked across Mexico, and wherever I went I heard this pop/rock song being played. It was coming out of everyone’s speakers it seemed. Couldn’t get away from it, although I kinda liked it so that was no problem. But when I crossed the border at Ciudad Juarez/El Paso into the United States, I was still none the wiser as to who the artists were, or what the song was called. I referred to it as the ‘Pinche Gringo’ song, as that much I could make out. Turns out, I probably shouldn’t have been wandering the streets of various Mexican towns, villages and cities humming the tune and singing ‘Pinche Gringo’ to myself.
I came back in 2005 to find it was still being occasionally played on the radio, and I finally got a name for the band and song. It’s a pretty famous tune in Mexico, so anyone who has spent any time here, or in Mexican communities in the US, will be well familiar with it. And this post is just all old news. But still. The song is Frijolero by Molotov. The lyrics are pretty unprintable on a nice, family friendly blog like this one though!
But if you take the time to look up the words, and translate them if need be, you’ll see that the drug and immigration issue has been a hot potato since long before O’Reilly declared Mexico out of bounds for his kids, or Arizona started passing suspicious immigration laws. Can’t be bothered to look all that up? It’s still a catchy song worth listening to, and the video is pretty good. It is still the one song that reminds me of those couple of months travelling around the country.