Thursday, November 11, 2010

From Boston to the Other Side

Elijah Wald was a reporter for the Boston Globe who had little experience in Latin America prior to becoming interested in narcocorridos, a sub-genre of the traditional corrido that may be on its way to becoming better known than the original form. I am probably not helping matters, with my recent post about the most famous of these songs, Reina del Sur.

In the course of Wald's research, he established himself as an authority on corridos in general and narcocorridos in particular. His web site includes information about recordings (I have both the book and its companion CD, for example), a chapter that was considered too hot to publish in the original book, and corridos about special stories, including the women of Juarez and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A corrido has even been composed about Wald himself! (See my post about Private Felix Longoria for another special corrido story.) The Smithsonian's Corridos sin Fronteras exhibit is a another educational resource on this art form, which continues to be an important cultural sounding board.

The narcocorrido story is also told quite effectively in the POV film Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side). The film describes the phenomenon from the point of view of a young songwriter who sees this art form as his ticket out of poverty (as traffickers will pay handsomely for songs about themselves). Unfortunately, the film is difficult to find, except in an educational version that costs almost what a coyote would charge!

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