[FOUNTAIN]Fine days for Mexican songsIn George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm,” the prophet Old Major instigates the animals with songs. The animals sing in chorus of a world where human dictators are banned and every animal is treated equally. One of these is a tune similar to “La Cucaracha,” a Mexican folk song in Spanish. The song was written describing the miserable Mexican natives as cockroaches, so in a sense it has something to do with “Animal Farm.”
Unlike the cheerful rhythm, the song has a sad content. The original lyrics were not “Women from the wash place and maids from the well / la cucaracha, the beautiful face,” as in the Korean version. The original was a liberation song that went: “can’t walk anymore / because he’s lacking/...Carranza’s army has already left / Pancho Villa’s army is coming.” The song is about the suppressed labor workers waiting for Pancho Villa’s revolutionary army.
Although many Mexican songs have been introduced to Korea, the most familiar is “Besame mucho.” ― “Kiss me, kiss me a lot, As if tonight were the last time...” Mexico’s legendary bolero group, Trios Los Panchos, sang this song. In the 1960s, it was introduced to Korea by singer Hyun-in. In June 1987, former president Roh Tae-woo sang “Besame mucho” at a celebration after he was chosen as successor by former president Chun Doo Hwan and the song once again became popular in Korea. Back then, it was said that President Roh sang the song passionately whenever a party was held at the Blue House.
However, not all Mexican songs are passionate. “Donde voy” has a unique Mexican-style sadness within the song. Tish Hinojosa became a world renowned folk song singer by performing this song in Spanish in 1989. “Sun please don’t expose me to the force of the INS /...Through the desert, a fugitive, I go.” The delicate melody and the lyrics about the sadness of a minority race became popular in Korea after being used as background music in a television drama.
The Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon holds a concert in the botanical garden every Saturday and Sunday featuring a Mexican band. The program is planned to attract visitors as the number of visitors has decreased greatly due to the cold weather. The warm greenhouse filled with delightful melodies presents a unique scene in midwinter. In Mexico, Korean games have just arrived in the country and an interest in the Korean wave has increased greatly. Latin American dances such as the salsa and bolero are popular in Korea. If this trend continues, the friendship between the two countries has a rosy future. On a day as cold as today, how about a passionate Mexican song?
by Lee Chul-ho
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.