Video of the week: El hijo del pueblo
José Alfredo Jiménez’ “El hijo del pueblo” is one of the greatest expressions of identity in a song that I have ever heard. Not only does it express humility, but also pride, despite being poor. It offers a look into the psyche of most Mexican people I have met. Though born poor, they have a sense of peace in their conditions; there is no need to be unhappy with their current situation, but rather, make the most of it and enjoy it as much as possible.
When I see films that are about aspects of Mexican culture, I often feel that the filmmakers are condescending down to the people being filmed; sometimes, there are those who honestly want to understand the culture and encapsulate it, but most of the time, filmmakers are the complete opposite. The only way to understand the culture is to truly be of the people being filmed.
Same goes with songwriting. I don’t think José Alfredo Jiménez could have written such a song had he not been poor himself. Though he amassed great wealth, his songs didn’t change and remained about México and its Mexicans. “El hijo del pueblo” is one of the songs that completely encapsulates the personality of Mexicans; poor, humble, proud, resourceful, happy.
I like this song so much that I wrote a piece of it on a whiteboard I have outside my door:
Descendiente de Cuauhtémoc,
mexicano por fortuna;
desdichado en los amores
soy borracho y trovador.