Song Of The Day 12/24/2014: Lalo Guerrero - "Pancho Claus"



Christmas Week: What might initially sound like a string of off-handedly produced Mexican stereotypes in fact comes from Latin-American music figurehead Lalo Guerrero, born in Tucson, AZ, generally referred to as "the father of Chicano music." In addition to fusing Spanish lyrics that illuminated the everyday experience of the Latino in 20th century America (back before electronic pundits with noxious gases that get lost on their way to the correct orifice and wind up coming out of their mouths demonized the lot of them 24/7 on cable news networks I neither patronize nor am able to tune out), Guerrero struck gold with parody songs that might seem a little out-of-place with his other, hugely important work. He turned "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" into "The Ballad of Pancho Sanchez" and got a gold record in the process.

"Pancho Claus" from 1969 partially decries the gentle Americanization of popular Latin music (they did a lot of cha-cha's at the time) and makes a gentle poke at his Capitol label mates, the Beatles. From there, in am interpretation of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," he runs into drunken relatives, clouds of masa harina, uncooperative donkeys, and finally a wayward cousin of Santa Claus picking up the big chief's south-of-the-border slack. All in all this is a pretty delightful bit, with a great parting line that you might see coming from a mile away but which I still laughed at out loud upon hearing. Christmas Eve would have been Guerrero's 98th birthday, so allow me to shoehorn in this date-appropriate jingle. Bells, that is.
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