Favorite Song of the Day: The Girl and the Robot

Röyksopp feat Robyn – The Girl and The Robot Listen, don’t watch

I’m not gonna promise you all that I can keep up a song a day. I feel like this blog deserves more respect than the kinda text I put up daily on my Facebook updates.
For instance, this song from the new Royksopp album, Junior featuring the fabulous Robyn was accompanied by the following on my Facebook page: “I love Robyn! I love Royksopp! I wanna have party just so I can dance to this song!” C’mon! You think I’m gonna embarrass myself like that here? Pfft.

I go mental every time you leave for work
You never seem to know when to stop
I never know when you’ll return
I’m in love with a robot

In the night, call you up and
Wanna know when you’re coming home
Don’t deny me, call me back
I’m so alone

In the night, wait up for you
Even though you don’t want me to
Go to bed, leave the lights on
What’s the use

La Puente Ranch

My great-grandmother Matilde, her sister Trini, my great-great grandmother (and Yaqui descendant) Matilde Moreno Vizcarra, known in my family as “Nana Grande.” Photograph taken on my great-grandmother’s ranch in La Puente. (click to enlarge)

They bought the ranch after World War Two ended as a relaxing country location for my great uncle Hector who had just finished serving a harrowing stint in the Navy, part of the Pacific fleet. Unfortunately, the property was located much too near some railroad tracks and the nighttime rumbling of the trains terrified my uncle – it sounded much too similar to the war noises he thought he’d left behind. He quickly scrambled back to the original family compound in Echo Park. My great-grandmother lived in La Puente the rest of her life.

Yaqui Deer Dance

As mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago someone asked me if I was Native American and I answered as I often do,  most people of Mexican heritage have some indigenous heritage. I think they meant Indian from north of the US border but like lots of indigenous folks, I don’t recognize these borders when it comes to culture. I was told my maternal great-grandmother was Yaqui Indian and my mother says she remembers hearing Yaqui words as a child. So in honor of my indigenous heritage, I present this video.

Yaqui Deer Dancer Yes, that is a deer head on his.

The clip is of an important ritual tradition called the Deer Dance. The festival where this dance took place was intended to bring Yaqui tribes from both sides of the borders together to celebrate their culture. There is some debate as to whether it was appropriate to film the ceremony and post the clip on Youtube. As the dance was a demonstration and not a ceremony, it seems approriate as a method to educate others in Yaqui culture.

Yaqui: Danza del Venado en Sonora, Mexico

Yaqui prefer to call themselves “Yoeme” and their homeland is “Hiakim.” It is their homeland name that most likely gave rise to the term Yaqui.

Favorite Video of the Week: Naci en el Alamo

Remedios Silva Pisa-Naci en el Alamo. Extended interview in French with filmmaker Tony Gatliff following video.

Like many, I first became acquainted to this song through the movie Vengo. It plays a pivotal role in one of the scenes and the songs perfectly echoes the heartache and loss that permeates this film. After the movie was released, many folks became obsessed with finding out more information about the singer Remedios Silva Pisa. Unfortunately, not much was available except for the rumor she recorded this song at age 16. I’ve recently tried to do a bit more research on her but have had little luck beyond what others have uncovered.

I did discover the song is originally a Greek Romani song called O balamos , balamos and was originally sung in the Greek Gypsy dialect. The title of the song eventually became known as, “To tragoudi ton gyfton,” The song of the Gypsies.

Giorgos Katsaris – To tragoudi twn gyftwn(mpalamo)

Some claim the song was composed in 1992 by Dionysis Tsaknis and performed by many famous Greek singers such George Dalaras , Paschalis Terzis, Eleni Vitali , Manolis Lidakis and the composer himself. Others say the song was originally released by an unknown singer called Yorgos Katsaris.

Yasmin Levy-Naci en el Alamo

Another popular version is by the Sephardic singer, Yasmin Levy. Yasmin’s father was Itzhak Levi, director of the Judeo-Spanish program at Kol Israel (Israel National Radio) for many years. She is well-known for her bridge building work between Jews and Arabs.

Ο Mπαλαμός – Eλένη Βιτάλη/Haig Yazdjian

Another beautiful Greek version.

No tengo lugar
Y no tengo paisaje
Yo menos tengo patria

Con mis dedos hago el fuego
Con mi corazon te canto
Las cuerdas de mi corazon lloran

Naci en alamo
Naci en alamo
No tengo lugar
Y no tengo paisaje
Yo menos tengo patria

Ay cuando canta(n), con tus dolores nuestras mujeres te hechizan

*Everywhere the title is “Naci en Alamo” but alamo could be the Gitano pronunciation of “Naci en el amor.”

Latina singers

This past week I found out some interesting facts regarding Mexicana/Latina singers I was previously unaware of:

1. The ever popular Mexicana singer Ana Gabriel is of Mexican, Chinese and Japanese descent. I didn’t always appreciate her gritty style of singing but compared to the current crop of pop singers, her vocals are most welcome.

2. Selena would have lived if she had a blood transfusion, a practice banned by her Jehovah’s Witness faith. I had never heard this story before but thanks to Cindylu, I am now acquainted with this most important bit of music history/trivia!

3. Homegirl Sara re-introduced me to a fine bit of music this weekend. According to her and others, Amanda Miguel was considered a feminist for singing this angry song which translates into: He Lied to Me. Damn, she has a fierce style too!

El Me Mintio by Amanda Miguel She’s Argentinean! I’m so wrong these days.

Maybe all of these facts are common knowledge but I never paid much attention. Much of this music was in the background of my life, familiar but unrecognized. I feel like it’s time I gave it some respect.

Blue Tears

My favorite song of the day: Blue Tears by Cryptacize

From the Cryptacize website:

Cryptacize deals in the unforgettable melody, the forsaken chord and the extravagant sentiment. They offer a distinct kind of pleasure; it’s not casual background or ‘lifestyle’ music. Nedelle Torrisi’s surefooted and richly nuanced vocal arabesques, like a modern day Freddie Mercury or Ronnie Spector, strangely complement Chris Cohen’s guitar, maniacally sped-up a la Les Paul or staccato and funny like Roy Smeck or Adolph Jacobs of the Coasters. Michael Carreira’s syncopated drum corps rudiments and pit-orchestra rave-ups propel the songs with a refreshingly buoyant touch that never lapses into rock music cliches.

Their blog.

More Global Dance

milky way Dancers! tijuana mexico!*

Tecktonic is a dance movement and scene started in the suburbs of France and has since spread around Europe and Mexico. It combines elements of breakdance, urban hip hip moves and other styles. To me it is very reminiscent of the kind of dancing done at Los Angeles backyard parties in the 80s. I was told by an authority on the subject that this kind of dancing was called pointing.

This group which I think is called Milky Way or perhaps that’s just the style not only dances well but makes some pretty graphically interesting videos. They have many more up but this is my favorite. Just like in any style of dance some folks have a better style than others. My favorites are the second dancer and the last one. Enjoy!

Buraka Som Sistema – Sound of Kuduro

I’m quite sad that I only came across this song and video recently although it was released about a year ago. It means I could have enjoyed it that much sooner. To be honest, despite my scouring of Youtube for various kinds of global dance there is really nothing I’ve seen recently (okay, maybe the Kurdish Halay dancers) that has blown me away like this clip of Angolan breakdancers. Add MIA into the mix and whoa, I’m out of words!

Favorite Video of the Week: Computer Love

If I had a top one hundred song list, this would definitely be on it. Zapp and Roger’s music represents a lot of things to me, some of it related to nostalgia but also a certain positivity that existed in Los Angeles and specifically South Central during the 70s and 80s. Once in awhile I meet folks who were part of this scene and they exude a certain hopefulness, a kind of positive energy that is increasingly rare nowadays. I remember reading about some old school Los Angeles pop lockers who talked about the same thing. KDAY and Bobby Jimmy and the Critters are two examples.

Zapp and Roger were (and still are) so popular among Chicanos (and cholos) that the cancellation of one of their shows caused a riot. During one of the earlier Cinco de Mayo/Fiesta Broadway events the cops shut down a live Zapp and Roger performance when they were surprised by the size of the crowd (LA cops get nervous around large crowds). This sparked off a small disturbance which turned into a riot downtown with people running through the streets going crazy.

A funny related story, during this Fiesta Broadway/Zapp riot a friend of mine and his buddies jumped on girl’s car (their version of flirting), the cops saw and charged them with car jacking. Unbeknownst to him, this was all captured for an episode of COPS as he was later to find out when the people in the neighborhood told him “Hey, I saw you on Cops the other day!”

The recorded version of this song is preferable to the this live one but it’s pretty amazing to see Roger sing with the plastic tube stuck in his mouth. He really seems to be enjoying the performance. As many know, the times turned dark for these brothers and a tragic argument ended both of their lives.

The original version: