Strait es el rey
I have a lot of respect for musicians who record songs music from a different culture because of a genuine interest and love of the music. While sometimes the effort comes off as hokey, most of the time the final product is very well done and it’s an example of cross-cultural admiration. There are cases where this cross-cultural admiration is not done properly, goes to lawsuits, and the original composer is screwed over. “(I Did It) My Way” is translated from a French song and later was translated to the Spanish, maintaining its message and sounding great, whether it’s Chente with a mariachi or Sinatra with a band.
I can’t remember if the following is true or imagined, but years ago, I heard a Spanish-language version of “That’s Amore.” I think it was José Alfredo Jiménez with a mariachi. I’m still trying to find it, but I have not succeeded. I hope it’s not a figment of my imagination.
Earlier today, I came across a George Strait recording of José Alfredo’s “El Rey”. I love it. I am a fan of country music, especially recordings that don’t sound over-produced or glossy. I’m happy Strait arranged their version closely to the traditional arrangement. In an interview, Strait talks about his adoration for mariachi music:
I admire country music and its musicians because its true artists acknowledge the shared musical roots of the U.S.A. & México. It’s Anzaldúa’s cultural borderlands, the melding of different musical traditions. It’s not something that I have not seen a lot of in California’s musical history. I don’t understand why it was more prevalent in the Southwest and not in California. I have gone on for too long. There will be more on these topics at other times.