Monday, December 11, 2017

Favorite Albums of 2017 Number 7 - La Santa Cecilia's Amar Y Vivir

amar y vivir

When I was a kid, my dad would play his records on Sundays. Among them were a lot of Mexican artists. For some reason, Cubans, or at least my family, have a strong connection to Mexican music, probably because Beny Moré and others went there to record back in the early 50s. It's also likely because of the movies featuring Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Javier Solis and others that were hugely popular in Cuba (if you haven't seen Coco, this is my excuse to bring it up and it's actually relevant for several reasons). In later years, when there was a big party, member of my extended family would sometimes hire a local, all female Mariachi band to come. I liked this all fine at the time, but I mostly just internalized it. The boleros I came back around to in my teens. But in the past 10 or so years, I've grown to really appreciate the traditional Mexican styles like ranchera as well as some more modern re-interpretations from bands like La Santa Cecilia. Their album, Amar Y Vivir (En Vivo Desde La Ciudad De Mexico, 2017) captures everything I love about Latin American music, Mexican in particular.

This album was recorded in various famous locations in Mexico City, mostly on the streets. At various points throughout the documentary on the making of the album, the band talks about how they grew up learning from street musicians and eventually doing it themselves. It's also an album about reconnecting with the roots of Latin American music. The songs range from old boleros like "Odiame" and "El Ultimo Trago" to a reinterpreted cover of Cafe Tacuba's "Ingrata" as well as La Santa Cecilia's own compositions. There are featured guests throughout, lending this an air of casual musical conversation that reminds me very much of my visit to Cuba at 5 years old. So, basically, it's nearly impossible for me not to love this album.

There isn't a bad song on here, but my favorite is "Como Dios Manda," an original song from 2014's Someday New. The song was already written in a traditional style, but here it gets a full mariachi treatment that truly makes it timeless. At the beginning of this year, I had the chance to see them live and this song remains the most amazing concert experience I've ever had. Every time I hear the song now, it affects me deeply. This version amps that up and while it's much more elaborate than the simple way it was played at the concert I attended, the emotion is just as palpable. Which is true of just about every note Marisol Hernandez sings. She says she hopes the Mariachis continue playing this song and that one day it becomes one of those songs people just request of them along with all the other traditional songs. I know this song already has that status for me.

In a year that started off with the election of a "person" who made a point of insulting and targeting immigrants, Latin Americans and Mexicans in particular, it's great that this band has found a way to protest with love and art. During the concert in January, they commented on this and while it was still too early to determine how the year would play out and what the reactions would be from our communities, they already had a road map in place to simply do what they had already been doing, maybe with a little more focus and passion. They comment on this again in the album video and it's inspiring to see and hear. Sometimes indirect protest is the most lasting.


  1. Mexicans are very creative people. I have seen few of their arts dramas and i really loved them.. Just like the one you shared it is a nice one and others must also see it.

  2. This post brings a lot of cool information.

  3. I am full of admiration for your article.