Saúl Viera, “El gavilancillo,” ten years later
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Today, April 11th, 2008, is the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the more famous singers from Los Ángeles, Saúl Viera. He was killed in the parking lot of a Denny’s in Bellflower by an unknown assailant; his girlfriend, who was with him at the time, was not harmed.
Chalino in 1992, Saúl in 1998… Both became inmortales for La Que Buena, the only station that plays their songs in L.A. To this day, you still hear La Que Buena playing their music. Go to Huntington Park, South Gate, Bell, or any of the cities nearby, and you’ll hear at least one car blasting their music.
Before reading any further, go to this MySpace page and listen to Viera’s “Los 3 compitas de L.A.” while reading the rest of the blog entry. It should be titled “Los 3 compitas de South Gate” since the only city named is South Gate, but then again, that’s just my own personal bias towards South Gate.
Saúl Viera’s music is as much a part of Los Ángeles as Toddy Tee and Los Lobos: they’re all music created by those who are not part of the American culture. Once they hit it big, the mainstream doesn’t notice. The mainstream didn’t notice Chalino and Saúl filling El Parral or El Farallon, selling cassettes like crazy in swap meets, but to the other “fringe” cultures that exist in Los Ángeles, they were the best, the top draws, the ultimate señores.
The gulf between the mainstream and the “fringe” culture was shown for all on TV when Adan Sánchez, Chalino’s son, died in 2004 (at the age of 20, the beginning of his own artistic career, and in Sinaloa, his Chalino’s home state and where Chalino was killed) and his family decided to hold an open wake in his honor in Norwalk. A large, large crowd gathered and there was no police presence because they did not expect large crowds to come to see Adan for one last time. A confrontation ensued, showing just how ignorant the mainstream is of the “fringe” cultures.
I’m featuring two songs of Saúl Viera’s songs, arguably his most famous, “Caja de muerto” and “Querido amigo”. They were supposed to be this week’s videos, but I decided to push them back and be their own blog spot.
“Caja de muerto” is such a spiteful song. It uses the word pinche and La Que Buena makes no intention to bleep it when they broadcast the song. I love it for the hate in Saúl’s voice.
“Querido amigo” is my favorite Gavilancillo song. There’s just something about the voices of el Gavilancillo and el Rojo de Sinaloa that makes this song for me. It’s also a welcome change from the typical corridos sung by Saúl. Slow, melodic, with a message of fraternal aid and care.
Tune in to La Que Buena today and listen for el Gavilancillo’s songs. I sure hope La Que Buena honors one of their inmortales. As for me, since I’m Boston, away from Mexican music radio stations and in a land where most of the Mexicans at the university have no idea who the fuck Chalino or Saúl were and are (even those from L.A.), I’ll blast Saúl Viera all day from my earphones and my speakers.