Song from my Past: Do I listen or do I skip?

 

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Stopped dead in my tracks when I heard one of the songs of one of my past lives. When all was beautiful, cool, love all up in the air. I love music so when a song randomly comes on that gets me, I do what I did today: stopped working, looked straight at my computer monitor, closed my eyes, shook my head in the good way, thinking back to the great times that I associated with the song.

Then, after the song was over, I opened my eyes, and shook my head again, this time with lips pursed, because I then reminded myself of how bad things got, and how there was no way to go back to that romantically awesome time. Ever.

There are very very few songs from the soundtrack of my life that will take me back in an instant and render me senseless for a few minutes. Where I’d get all nostalgic and volada in the past, now I go back in time for roughly 3 to 4 minutes, the length of the song.  Going back to the land of “what if”, “maybe it will work out”, and “let’s try again” is no longer an option.  I’m more than ok with that.

Regrets? Maybe a little, but not enough to make me walk that road again.  And, like any good music, I never skip to the next song, I always listen.

 

My Sad Cinco de Mayo

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I have been involved with Cinco de Mayo since the 3rd grade.  Folks in my life KNOW exactly where I will be every year around this time of the year.  I have seen and planned Cinco events within the community, in grade school, in high school, for any of the radio stations I have worked with, in college, at the university. I know the ins and outs of how to put these celebrations together, large or small. When I work an event, I usually work my butt off during the planning sessions so that the day of event, I don’t do much running around all loca.

In any event, you can do your part the very best you can yet there are things that you have no control of: the weather, whether the crowds will show up, or not; artists or bands travel schedules. if your station is on the air, or not . I tend to get super-focused and I mentally work my plan the entire day. I don’t go crazy unless any of the above situations occur.

So you can just imagine how I am when I actually A T T E N D an event where I am not working one. I can have it analyzed almost instantly – how could the event been better? what could the organizers done differently? who put this mess together? why did they do things this or that way? or not? I feel sorry for the folks who attend with me because I am usually counting the colors on banners, checking out the sponsor’s logos so that I can see if they’re interested in speaking to me about my events, handing out cards to the vendors. so it’s not the most relaxing time for me. thus I rarely go.

I attended this Cinco de Mayo event as my superblessedtalented godson would be performing in San Francisco’s Cinco event. I told myself to shut the hell up with my suggestions for the event, that I was there for him, not to analyze the event. My godson looked so cool and I loved watching him work it. I was happy being one proud Nina (godmother).

As we were walking though the festival, however, something didn’t feel totally right. This event was in the middle of the Mission District, this event was free, this event was being held on a beautiful day.

What was missing?

The straight-up Latino vibe was missing; or better yet. the L A T I N O S were missing. What did I see? Lots of trendy restaurants and bars, lots of folks of different colors, cute lil blended families with money – how could I tell, you ask? Very expensive strollers ‘de nombre‘. expensive pets,  great clothes, lots of them talking about their work – mainly start-up, techies with very-well-behaved children, food trucks, no real Mexican food booths. The one word that came to me was ‘gentrification‘. I have worked many many many many festivals and events in the Mission and NEVER had I felt such sadness.  When I voiced my thoughts out loud and said the word “gentrification”, my godson shook his head in agreement.

I love seeing all of the Latino desmadre at the events: familias, the lines for the tacos, fruta, aguas frescas, and more. The stage areas packed with people, the vendors giving out free stuff en friega, no one talking about work because fiestas are fun and social, and you hear Spanish and Spanglish everywhere!  The best celebrations are where we Latinos celebrate our traditions, our food, our cultura, and we look at our festivals as a time to take a break from our regular lives and reconnect with the motherland and where we can be ourselves.

Gentrification is most definitely the reality in San Francisco.   All of the businesses and their employees moving into the Mission may be construed as making it a busy, vibrant, place, as if it wasn’t before. There is a lot of action, true…but, a cambio de que?  Rents are astronomical, and lots of the Latino familias have had to move into the East Bay and farther.   I saw so many “Help Wanted” signs, but these are likely minimum-wage positions. With rent prices for some 1-bedroom apartments going for upwards of $3,000 a month; HOW could Latinos afford to live in their neighborhoods?   Cultural disparity was also more front and center than ever in the Mission.  My sadness at seeing the Latino flavor moving out of the neighborhood is so real.  I’ve been thinking about it all day and night, how can this neighborhood remain Latino? do the people who live there care about this, my sense is that they are wanting to do the best for their families yet have little resources, my sense is that they would rather not uproot their families and move out of the Mission, but how can they thrive when they must concentrate on how to survive?

Looks like my next move will be to become better informed.  Maybe I am off-point, maybe I’m trippin, maybe I am wrong, maybe it’s my imagination that business and money are sucking the life out of one of the most vibrant communities ever.

Then again…maybe I’m right.

Time Will Tell.

 

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Get Your Song On: Music Appreciation Torres-Style!

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As I was sitting in the front seat with my lil niece goddaughters in the back, they were singing kiddie songs for a while, the cutest sound ever is listening to my 2-year-old baby niece-goddaughters, both of whom are barely learning to talk, sing out the words!  Imagine “chee” for “tree” in their little high baby voices …. looove them.  I didn’t want them to know that I was recording them so you’ll see the road as you listen to the cuteness.

After they sang their songs, I turned on the radio, which I always do for my 8-year-old niece-goddaughter, this girl knows ALL of the top songs on the radio and, as I was listening to her sing all of the words to song after song, I love that she knew all of the words and I also know that there was no way that she could have really understood what she was singing – as many of us did when we were that age.  And she kept saying what we’ve all said, at one time or another, ‘ooooh, this is MY song, I love that song!’

There is so much music that I get into these days that I’ve loved for years, but only NOW do I get it.   I usually find myself saying, “yup”, “y si!”, “oh yeah” or “umm hmm!” and think to myself, “wow, what a great song, I love the way he or she sang/wrote this!” Songs may as well be musical blog entries:  they usually talk about one feeling or emotion or event or person because songs usually fit into 3 to 5 minutes.  The song hooks repeat over and over again and I see them as blog titles or clever hash tags, don’t you think?  It takes a little bit of living, loving, losing, or lamenting to really have a lyric hit you right in the face.  It takes a little bit of courage to admit, even if it’s just to yourself, that you ‘get it‘ and, in that way, music helps you recognize the good, bad, and ugly in yourself and can either help you heal, get you mad enough to change your situation, to realize that you were right (or wrong) about a certain person or situation, to, as my famfriend Jorge says, ‘get your drank on and cry like a lil bitch’– especially if you were telling yourself to be strong and not cry.  Music can be some of the best and cheapest therapy ever!

I grew up in a musical household so I’ve had music in my life since like forever.  Music in English and in Spanish.  My father, Mike Torres, is a musical legend in our community, he sang Spanish Mass for many, many years at our church, he was part of the local Mariachi Los Jilgueros as a guitar player and singer,  he founded the Trio Los Torres as well as The Mike Torres Band, a straight-up fun party band! The MTB is now managed by my brothers and sister and has included, from time to time, cousins, nephews, and nieces.  Dad now plays whenever he feels like it, he’s earned it.  To this day, my father practices his music e v e r y day.  My parents also communicated via music — what they could or would not say to each other, they would play or sing at each other:  Mama would play a song LOUD and/or Dad would sing a song. Depending on the song, we could surmise when it was ON  or when they were making up LOL!   My father has also said that music has ‘saved’ his kids’ sanity:  nearly all of my siblings and nieces/nephews have been part of school bands, rock bands, latin bands, sing, rap, in both languages.    Music in the house always, and we are surrounded by music:  my current next door neighbors are a small garage studio and a larger recording and rehearsal studio used daily by one family member or another and their fellow musicians.   The video above is our 4th generation of future musicians LOL;  below you will see the first, second, and third generations.  This won’t be the last time that I feature my fun and superblessedtalented musical familia and this is only some of them!

I am constantly being asked why I’m not in the band, or if I sing?   I have mad respect for musicians and lack the patience to sit and learn how to play instruments.  Does karaoke count?  Because I do have the nerve to do karaoke and without drinking shots LOL.  Mostly, I am a fan of all types of music and of my awesome fam:  please enjoy part of Music Appreciation Night Torres-style!     #52essays2017

 

My godson nephews having laff attack with their grandpa LOL

Here is part of the 3rd generation, STE2 and MT3, once they stopped laughing,  singing the classic “Nunca Jamas” with Grandpa Mike Torres.

Below are Mike Torres I, Mike Torres II, Mike Torres III singing the famed Mexican corrido “Siete Leguas” at what was a very happy day for our familia, at a 40th Anniversary celebration of The Mike Torres Band.

Here is the fun-loving, energetic, Mike Torres Band…Dad, front and center, Mike, Jr., on accordeon/vocals, sis Christina on keyboards, brother Martin on drums, nephew STE2 on sax … this vid is a few years old and the band lineup has changed slightly but I love it because this captures how much fun the family has onstage and how they can fill a dance floor faster than most bands, maybe it’s because, once they start the first musical note, they are onstage with no breaks for up to four hours!  I don’t think that Dad has to worry about his musical legacy with the 3rd and 4th generations of Torres musicians learning, playing and practicing and appreciating the gift of music.

Back On My Own … For A Few Days Anyway #52essays2017


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It’s funny, I’ve been on my own for years, had my own place, paid my own bills, did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, slept all day if I wanted to, be gone for days from my place as long as I wanted to, cleaned it, didn’t clean it, walked around in my bra and ‘chones‘, walked around completely nude, cooked one meal and ate out of the pan or used a tortilla to eat out of the pan, same meal, all day long LOL It took me a long time to feel comfortable living alone, I had always had roommates, ten roommates total throughout the years. I was nervous at first about living alone and then that was it – I loved it.

 

I never thought that I would move back home again – ever.  I have always been one to sleep in my own bed or, at the very least; I always carry my own pillow and blanket EVERYWHERE.  No matter where I stayed, even when I’d come back home, I always had my sleeping materials covered.  My family has always compared me to Linus, the character on Charlie Brown, who always carries a blanket.  Yet, here I sit in my pajamas and bathrobe, at 8:00 at night, on a day where I have not changed out of my pj’s, gone nowhere, and alternated from Mama’s chair to the couch to my bed in the “girls room”, on what has been my most relaxing day of the year.

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Flash back to a couple of years ago, I came over on “my night”, you see, we 5 Torres siblings decided to divide up the week to help care for our parents, and on this night, I could not make myself leave.  My mother, who had been ill for some time and who was undergoing dialysis treatments, was getting weaker.  What hurt me most was not the physical weakness, what broke my heart was the sense that Mama was getting tired of it all.  I thought to myself, I want to make her days/nights easier.  My nights were spent waking up once or twice to check on Mama and on Dad; I could never manage to sleep through the night.  I didn’t have much time to miss my life and my bed.  I think that, during that entire time, I slept in my bed two or three times.  When Mama passed away, we were all so grateful that she was not in pain or distress that she went peacefully.  As a family, we were all completely exhausted, we had all spent the last couple of months completely at Mama’s side 24/7.

 

Fast forward to now, our house is so different now, there are many full-house nights, we host many more family events here at the house than ever before, Dad always has some project he’s working on in or outside of the house, there is music on and this night owl house rarely has lights out.  I finally moved my bed and things into the ‘girls room’, which is now my “apartment”, and while I sleep more, I still wake up at least once per night to check on Dad.  Trying to keep this house up is no easy task, especially, as Dad tends to leave things wherever he leaves them.   I’ve claimed one huge victory by getting Dad to stop throwing paper onto the floor and into the wastebasket LOL.

 

As Dad and the family would be gone for a few days, I was elated to have my life to myself for a few days in a row!  It was if I were going on vacation, what would I do?  Where would I go?  Who would I see?  Or NOT?   Well, the first night, I stayed up writing all night and had my music blasting – just like I spent many nights at my place not too long ago.  As I was battling the flu, I didn’t really do anything but move all of my blankets to the living room couch and spent the next day and night moving to and from the couch and chair, sleeping, watching what I like to watch:  msnbc, Oprah’s channel, chick flicks, and binge-watched TV, puro heaven. With every single nap, every minute spent under the blankets, in my favorite outfit ever, my piyama, watching only the TV I wanted to see, kicking back, I could feel myself getting healed physically, and felt myself coming back together as Carmen, the person, I felt like me, not a daughter or a sister, just me.

 

It was GREAT to be back on my own, even for a few days. Loved being back to cleaning only once (and the house staying clean), filling up a small trashcan only, using one roll of toilet paper the entire time and the kitchen stove getting a break as well LOL. Well, I wasn’t really completely alone, Mama was all up in the mix from her table and I’ll bet that she, too, appreciated the peace, quiet, no-heater blasting, girl time.

 

Make time for yourself, have your own back, spend time with YOU, reconnect with your InnerChingona, get your power back, even if it is for a few minutes on a crazy/busy day!

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My Friday Night Luces

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Fridays.  End of the workday.  End of the Week.  The sunset always looks different to me on Fridays.  As the sun goes down, and as dusk settles in, I love the way it looks when the street lights start coming on when it’s still light outside, the color of the green, yellow and red of the stop lights seem to jump out that much brighter on a Friday.  Friday Night Lights are usually associated with high-school football games and, as I’m not that into sports, my lights are known as FridayNightLuces

As anyone who works in the Bay Area knows,  Friday traffic is usually very heavy, people trying to make their getaway for the weekend,  parents rushing to pick up children and get into their warm homes, folks going out to games, concerts, dinner and more.  The roadways are jammed in all directions and one is always listening to traffic reports to hear the conditions of the road.   I do the supercommute from the Bay to the Valley so I’m always doing the ‘ pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod’ that there are no accidents because then it’s all about grrrrrr! and a parqueadero atmosphere on the freeway.  Most nights, I stop somewhere to wait it out: dinner, shopping, writing.  On this Friday night, however, I had to be home so, ni modo, I had to be all up in that mess.  As I drove, or should I say, as I did the stop and go thing, I started noticing the different types of lights — my FridayNightLuces.

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I first saw the brilliant reds, reds of the hundreds of tailights in front of me.  I knew that I was going to be on the road for a long while.   I then looked into my rear view mirror to see the shiny, bright, lines and lines of white lights of the cars who were behind me on this journey, all trying to move forward.   To my right, on the hills,  I saw the warm, inviting lights of many of the homes and could imagine comforting things:  a fireplace, dinner being prepared, people enjoying a meal around the table or in front of the TV settling in to watch a movie, the sound of a doorbell where pizza was being delivered yay no-cook mode, and, if I looked up and saw second-story lights on,  my thoughts would go to someone getting ready for date night, music playing, a glass of adult beverage nearby, the smell of perfume, smiles as they look forward to the evening.

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I then see the orange-ish color of  lights along the freeway that always reminded me of when I lived in  Denver because I loved seeing the world covered in snow and those orange-colored lights put such a cool glow onto the fallin snow.  The orange-colored lights also took me back to a couple of places where I made out with a certain gentleman LOL for some reason, I could never figure it out, he always found the glow of those lights romantic and there we would end up!

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As I moved farther down the road, I would see the dreaded lights of the sirens which could mean highway patrol – so it was all about get off of the phone LOL! Police in pursuit of someone, ambulance and/or fire trucks – and after doing the sign of the cross because it usually meant someone was injured or in pain.  I would always breathe a “yes!” if the lights were on the other side of the freeway and hope that I wouldn’t be on the road that much longer.

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On this Friday night, I saw the full moon rising.  One of my very favorite lights is moonlight,always has been.  Moonlight on the hills, peeking in through the trees, reflecting on my black Jeep.  On my commutes, I get the privilege of seeing the moon rise and set many times.  I finally stopped trying to take pictures of the moon as I drive because I can never get a shot good enough to do it justice; that, and it drives people crazy that I take pictures as I drive and upload them on the road LOL  The skies were clear so you know that moon gave off an awesome light!  A great view especially when I’m blasting music in my Jeep.

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Two very comforting signs along my commute are as I look to the left, I am able to see the “Jesus Saves” and a huge cross all made out of lights,  which tells me that I’m getting out of the Bay and into the Valley and a few miles later, I love seeing the HUGE American Flag flying in the wind a todo lo que da surrounded by lights – I always feel thankful that I live in a free country and things like that when I see the flag.

By the time I get to the last part of the commute, it’s as if all one sees is the flash, flash, flash of the signal lights.  I hear a lot more honking horns and always joke that this is when the real road rage sets in, when people, me included,  have like HAD it with driving with two hands on the wheel, teeth clenched, stressed because they have to be somewhere.  Me, I have no patience for traffic at night so all I want to do is get off of that road and I can often be heard exclaiming out loud, “que vas a hacer? que vas a hacer? what. are. you. going. to. do? ‘get in there! no ves que te estoy dejando entrar?’  The lights lose their peaceful quality, I actually get irritated seeing the lights when, a short time before, I was completely entranced and lost in thought!

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Once I get to my exit from the freeway and make that left turn down my road to the Ranch, where we grew up with my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins on my father’s side, everything starts to calm down.  I again see the comforting lights of the homes as I go down the road, the lights over empty parking lots at the warehouses near the Ranch and then finally, at the Ranch, I turn into our fenced-off dirt road and smile because, of course,  all of the houses are dark or almost dark, that is, all of the houses except ours, my fam are nite owls.  All lights on, doors open (if it’s not cold), music or TV on, and I will usually find my Dad:  writing, playing guitar, or as I found him on this Friday night, in his chair covered with a blanket watching flamenco guitar videos on “YouTube”  — I then put my stuff down on a chair, smile and think that the light of ‘all is right in the world’ is a great one to come home to.  #52essays2017

 

George Michael and The Year The Music Died

 

quote-you-ll-never-find-peace-of-mind-until-you-listen-to-your-heart-george-michael-19-84-19I was so blown away by the sad news of George Michael’s death that it was difficult to put it into words at first. Another one gone from the soundtrack of my life.  So many of the greats left us in 2016 and it really did feel like una tras otra.

I was living in Sacramento when Wham! first hit the airwaves and MTV.  While I thought they were handsome,  what really captivated me was George Michael’s voice.   I had all of the Wham! cassettes and forgot all about them once George Michael went solo.  Such a stellar, spectacular voice — I have always gravitated toward the singers, lead and background.  To hear George Michael’s music was to hear flawless vocal arrangements in his songs.    On many of the songs, I know the background vocals just as well as I do the lead ones.  George Michael’s voice seemed to get better with time — he never lost the power of that voice, no matter the scandals, no matter the substance abuse, no matter the age — he was blessed vocally as well as being a great songwriter.   Another thing I really enjoyed was listening to him cover songs, all kinds of songs, his vocal range could reach the notes to cover Freddie Mercury, as he did with “Somebody to Love” – not easy to match.   Or his distinctive version of The Police classic, “Roxanne” – we saw Sting in concert a few years ago and he still raved over it and said it was the “grown-up” version of the song.   Like all of the great vocalists, George Michael could unleash the power of his voice and then bring it back down to the basics.  Sooo glad that his music will live on forever and very sad that I will not be able to see him perform live — there’s always YouTube.  One of the best singers I have ever heard and right up there in my Top 5 favorites of all time y todavía guapísimo.  Rest In Peace George Michael.

My absolute favorite George Michael song, “Kissing A Fool” with the lyrics as I asked my godson STE2 to learn this for me, no excuses papa! LOL

I was in Denver, stuck in a blizzard and completely snowed-in and I saw this performance by George Michael on MTV and kept saying the f-word in amazement when I was able to hear/see this powerful version of Freedom 90.  This is the best version of the song in my opinion, love how they WORK it vocally.

I am a huge Queen and Freddie Mercury fan and I remember watching George Michael sing this song on the tribute show and praying that he wouldn’t eff it up and was floored when he, of course,  killed it on “Somebody To Love”

My sister and I went crazy over George Michael’s CD of cover songs, so many good songs!  But this one knocked us out as we were also huge fans of The Police.  This jazzy slower version shows how George Michael could work different music styles.

Sooooo many musical giants left, Bowie, Prince, Merle, Emilio, Sharon Jones, Juanga, Maurice White, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, George Martin, and more. I will feature a few of my favorites below…

JUAN GABRIEL:   The ultimate showman, he always left it all on the stage, one of Mexico’s most prolific composers ever and there are so many songs but my favorites remain the “rancheras” with mariachi, I would always yell back comments when he would perform live, ask Natalie LOL.  His phrasing is incredible, watch and wonder when the man breathes.  Of course, his mannerisms are hilarious and second to none.

 

EMILIO NAVAIRA:  I started off my radio career playing Tejano music and I remember first hearing EMILIO Navaira as part of David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, loooove them.   I was on-air when Emilio went solo and he had the voice, the looks, and Raulito (his brother, who sings some of the best “segunda” ever) and this was filmed right at the peak of his fame…love his version of the classic “La Rama Del Mesquite”.  Love the energy of Tejano music!

SHARON JONES:  I have always loved Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings…her powerful voice blends well with Daryl Hall on “Do What You Want, Be What You Want”

MAURICE WHITE:  One of the greatest bands of all time, the elements of Earth, Wind, and Fire led by the great Maurice White.  We Torres5 were heavily into this band.  Thanks to our cousin Yolanda, who had this album.  Many many many hours were spent listening to this record in the ‘girls room’ and, once we bought other EWF albums, they did not leave the turntable for months on end.   This was the first song I remember hearing from EWF and I still say it’s one of the most hopeful and positive songs ever.

GLENN FREY:  Loooove the Eagles and especially loved to listen to Glenn Frey’s badass lyrics and personality.  I loved watching them in the older years because NO one harmonized like they did and they sounded great after all of these years.

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My godson MT3 calls me this afternoon with this news: “Nina, Juan Gabriel died. Just wanted you to know.” WWWOOOWWW.

One of the giants of Mexican and Latin music, gone.  He was at one of his homes in Santa Monica, CA and had a heart attack today 8/28/2016.  Juan Gabriel was currently on tour and had done his final concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA on Friday night.

Once I got home, I went straight to the TV hoping that I had not missed news coverage on the passing of this icon.  Fast forward, four hours later, and there is still coverage on Spanish TV about Juan Gabriel’s death.  What struck me was the astounding amount of songs that this man composed in his lifetime.  Every story would have Juanga’s music playing, “Amor Eterno”, “Yo No Naci Para Amar” “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” “No Tengo Dinero” “Querida” “Noa Noa” “No Me Vuelvo A Enamorar” “Hasta Que Te Conoci” and the list goes on and on and on.   My social media has blown up with every other post on Juanga’s passing.  So much of my radio and event fam has a story to tell about him.

Throughout my entire career in radio, I have been surrounded by Juan Gabriel music, all of his MANY hits I have played on the radio, to so many of his concerts, I have taken winners in to “Meet & Greets”, given out concert tickets, and I remember one time that we were taking winners to take pictures with Juan Gabriel, who, at the time, was not crazy about taking pictures.  So there I go making sure that my winners get their photo, and my crew and I each take a picture with him.  When we got the pictures back, we were told that they had been “damaged” during the processing and everyone’s pictures with Juanga came out fuzzy, grainy, and dark.   Sera cierto?  My picture is somewhere in my storage unit, so I have not included it in this entry.

Another time, I took winners to LA to see a concert at Universal Studios, it wasn’t Juan Gabriel :).  My BFF Maria GarciaRIP and her friend went with us.  As I was flying to SFO with winners and Maria was flying to Sac Airport, my flight left first.  Later that evening, I get a call from Maria saying that her flight had been delayed.  While they were waiting for their flight, they decided to go to one of the airport restaurants.  Once seated, to their absolute shock, guess who was at the next table?  None other than Juan Gabriel!  You better know Maria checked it all out and proceeds to tell me that Juanga had iced tea and a salad with Thousand Island dressing, and that he kept asking for more dressing LOL

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Juan Gabriel was one of Mama’s favorite artists EVER.  One of the joys of my life was to have been able to take her to see him in concert, she loved it.   I was very excited when Rocio Durcal (Mama’s #1 artist) and Juan Gabriel were on tour TOGETHER.   When they sang together, it was pure magic.  And, as Rocio became an international star by singing songs written by Juan Gabriel, including my mother’s favorite song, “Amor Eterno”, everytime I hear either of these two legends, my thoughts go first to Mama and how much she enjoyed their music.  Here they are “a duo” singing “Fue Un Placer Conocerte”, straight-up perfection.

Out of all of the many, many, many songs of Juan Gabriel, I have always been a fan of his straight-up, in your face, tomacabron songs OF COURSE accompanied by mariachi.  His phrasing, his fast-paced style of fitting so many words in one line so they sound like one lyric is second to none, I would sit in amazement wondering when this man took a breath.   Juanga felt every word and every note of the song, his interpretation was, many times, more than a performance, it was a tour de force.  Juan Gabriel was fun, flashy, emotional, divo, authentic, original, gifted, prolific, and would leave it all on the stage, every time.   Check out the video below and see for yourself!

My all-time favorite Juan Gabriel songs are “Se Me Olvido Otra Vez”, “Insensible”, “Te Voy A Olvidar” and “La Diferencia”… here is Rocio Durcal in what is my very favorite version of “La Diferencia”

I could go on and on and on.  Juan Gabriel was already beloved in life for the music that was the soundtrack to people’s lives.  His influence on future composers and musicians will be felt for many years to come.  No habra otro igual.  Que En Paz Descanse Juan Gabriel.

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Prince: Part of the Soundtrack of My Life

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As I heard the news of Prince Rogers Nelson’s death on 4/21/2016, I didn’t realize how much his music was a part of my life…

When I first heard “When Doves Cry”, it stopped me in my tracks. So different, so original, so creative. All of the songs on that album were really different, cool, authentic. It hit all of my roommates and I as well.

Nisie was always a huge Rick James fan, and, once she heard Prince, it was over LOL I always remember Nis saying “Priiiiince!” every time she heard a Prince song on the radio, no matter where we were, or every time she played his music at our place, which was often. That’s how I learned every word to the almost every song, the ‘Purple Rain’ album was played that much.

“Purple Rain” is a song that is almost trance-like and like an anthem. I remember my Comadre and I were sitting at our place, as one of our parties was ending and most of the people had gone, it was madrugada like 4 or 5 in the morning, and as I was coming back into the house after saying goodbye to folks, “Purple Rain” is being played over and over and I find my Comadre sitting on one of the inside steps and she’s crying. As we sat there talking it out, I remember “Purple Rain” still being played over and over for what was probably hours or so.

“My Name Is Prince” and “Diamonds and Pearls” take me to my first years in radio. I’ve always had the luck to work in stations that have so many different type of music formats in the same place so it’s like your mind is blown because you hear so much more different music in one day than the average person. I’d go from one side of the building hearing Spanish blasting on one side and end up at the other hearing “Ma name is Prince …” Loved it.

Like many of my radio fam, we have the luck of going to many many concerts. And many of us remember many a day when you’d get an email or hear an announcement that there are extra tickets ‘up front’ — this usually meant that winners did not pick up their tickets and, so that they wouldn’t go to waste, the “first come, first served” announcement would come. Sometimes I’d make it, sometimes not. I was in Denver at the time, and the announcement came, this time for Prince tickets and this time I made it. Add to this, our station was a few blocks away from Fiddler’s Green, the venue I used to refer to as Denver’s version of the Bay’s Shoreline Amphitheater.

Colorado BFF Sandra and I walked to Fiddler’s and were pleasantly surprised to walk in to see/hear his opening act: Chaka Khan, yay! And then to watch this man in concert, I watched him play every instrument on stage, take no breaks, and was completely blown away by his talent, his originality, and inventive arrangements of so many songs, new and old. I have never seen anyone else work a show like Prince, ever. You just knew that you were in the midst of genius.

The few times that I saw Prince do interviews, I was struck by how funny, smart, and insightful he was.  I respected how true he was to himself always,  even when he stood alone, especially in the way he changed the music business by standing up for himself and his music.  Legend.

This weekend will be to appreciate the music Prince made, watch the almost non-stop media coverage, and send up a prayer for his safe passage as he begins the next journey. RIP Prince.

April Writing Challenge, Day 6: First 3 of Music Shuffle

April Writing Challenge, Day 6:

Put Your music player on shuffle and write about the first 3 songs that play…talk about those songs….

Song 1: Fue Un Placer Conocerte – Rocío Durcal
No brainer. Rocio Durcal is one the best singers of all time in my book. Since her passing a few years ago, I have yet to see a great female artist who worked it like Rocio. Born in Spain, she was like a Gidget type of artist, very poppy music and all that. It wasn’t until she recorded rancheras with el mariachi that she became internationally famous. I remember watching her on TV all of the time and I remember that she was Mama’s very favorite singer ever.
When I got into radio, Rocio’s music was one of the things that I could share with Mama. It’s funny, any one who knows me, knows that with all of the hook-ups that I had to concerts, etc., that my familia wasn’t really into that, so it was very rare to see my parents at any events where I was working. Except for Rocio: my mother was always ready to see Rocio in concert and I loved to be able to make this happen for her.
Somehow it always seemed to be me taking Mama to the casinos and you know how casinos are, in the middle of nowhere so it’s a guaranteed long drive. Some of my best memories were blasting Rocio Durcal in the car and watching Mama transform from tense and apurada to relaxed, happy, and she would sing LOUD too especially on the way to the casinos…on the way back, she would be lost in thought enjoying the music.  Mama had her favorite Rocio songs and so did I, but this song was one that we both LOVED…and would sing it a todo volumen, she did the high part, I did the low part LOL.  Here’s the super duo of Rocio Durcal and Juan Gabriel, “Fue Un Placer Conocerte”

 

Song 2:  Que Culpa Tengo, Little Joe y La Familia

omg!  This is one song that I regularly saaaaang in the Jeep at full blast!  It is one of the very first Tejano songs I heard in my life and it’s such a classic that always sounds good.  I must find a karaoke somewhere or have a few drinks and make my familia MTB back me up on this LOL.

I love the song because it’s kinda in your face, basically it’s “you knew how I was when you met me, NOW it’s a problem?”  These are my favorite songs ever to sing because there is no way that you can halfass this type of song, you really have to feel it, to be one beat short of letting out a grito when you sing it.   I’ve listened to enough Little Joe songs in my life to think that HE has to like these types of songs, because he sings so many of them, and has sung himself into legend-status.

As I was listening to this song, I was scrolling Facebook and see that my immensely-talented godson nephew MT3 was playing with his boss, Little Joe, in front of the Alamo for FiestaSanAntonio a few hours ago.  It’s so cool to watch familia workin it with this Tejano legend.  If I know MT3, he probably still gets a little starstruck and I looove that he’s out there repping our family name with the big boys.

The minute I heard Tejano music, I related INSTANTLY.  Related to the fact that I just KNEW that these guys were from this side of the border, speaking English first, Spanglish second LOL, loving our roots and having mad respect for the motherland but doing things our own way.    To hear Little Joe’s grito and shouting stuff in English like, “put it on!” like he does at the beginning of the song blew my mind out back in the day.   Here is “Que Culpa Tengo” by Little Joe y La Familia…classic.

 

Song 3:  Workin’ on a Groovy Thing, Patti Drew

First time I heard this song, it was when we were little and it was part of our Ita’s awesome record collection.  She may be a quiet and reserved person, but this lady has always loved music and especially this type of music.    My Grijalva cousins also loved this song so I heard it a lot as we hung out with them a lot back in the day.

The second time I remember hearing this song, sis Kiki was looking all over the place for a copy of this song, yes, this was before ‘You Tube’ and online radio.

A couple of years ago, I came upon this song on You Tube and really really got into it.  It’s one of the ones that I TRY to sing in the Jeep.  Sounds easy, but it’s a very hard song to sing and the one person who can really sing it and who has the air to hit all of the notes is, you guessed it, Kiki.

It’s also a great ‘driving’ song.  I drive so much that I need good music to keep me going!  Here’s Patti Drew, ‘Workin On A Groovy Thing’

 

 

 

 

QueQUE? WHAT did he just say?

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When life happens to you, which way do you turn?  Do you embrace your Inner Chingona?  Or do you take a detour via Ms. Paz (Peace) and end up at your Inner CHILLONA?  Crying, frustrated, depressed.     I would love to say that we all follow our Inner Chingona all of the time and, sadly, this is not the case.

I love my BFFs.  It’s amazing how empowering it is to be with them, it’s like getting a reality check with love, there is nothing that they do not know, there is nothing that we hold back from each other.    You can only imagine what topics are covered when we are together…When I heard this story, I told her that I just HAD to write about it because, as I listened to the story, and stated my words almost verbatim, it became the title of today’s post,…here is the story, what would you have done?

For this story, I revive 2 of my former characters, Yolanda and Rafa…

 

Things were really going great with Rafa and Yolanda.   At first, their romance centered around Friday nights, where they would usually go out and do ‘couple’ things, away from their co-workers, friends, family.  Come Monday, all would revert back to professional lives:  Rafa as the boss, the Sales Manager of the stations, Yolanda as one of his top employees, cutting deals, bringing in money for the stations’ bottom lines.   Yolanda was relieved that things were going well since there was no way that she wanted anyone to think that the boss was 100% responsible for her success, this was a partnership and she was doing her share of the heavy-lifting.   The sides of the radio roads were littered with too many women who got involved with their boss and lost everything once the relationship went bad.

One Monday, things changed a little.   Rafa asks Yolanda, “I’ve got this family thing on Saturday, think you wanna go?”   “Sure”, she replies.  On the surface, Yolanda was cool but inside, she was a jumble of excitement and nerves.  Meeting family is major and Yolanda could barely concentrate on anything but ‘oh my God, he wants me to meet his familia, will they like me? will they hate me? could I meet him there in case things don’t go well and I’m trapped there? I really want this to go well!  I want them to like me, OMG…”

All week, Yolanda is taking all of her clothes out of the closet and trying them on.   The family thing didn’t sound too formal but Yolanda didn’t want to go all fachosa either.   Rafa keeps asking her if she’s nervous and, of course, she answers, “no, why would I be?” when she was mere steps from having an attack of ‘chorros‘ LOL   “Note:  Make sure you know where all of bathrooms are at all times on Saturday!”     Rafa didn’t seem nervous at all either, Yolanda thought, ‘this must be meant to be, it will all go great’.

Saturday morning comes and Yolanda is nervous but feeling confident on her choice of a skirt and sweater set that, ‘made me look cool, in, young, hot’…but not too hot because you know how Mexican familias are, they are not into showing too much, and the standard is set pretty high for women who are professional with careers, etc.   Yolanda is just finishing putting her makeup on when the doorbell rings…

Rafa’s first words to Yolanda when she opened the door were, “well, I was going to have you meet my mother but not if you’re dressed like that.”  QueQUEWhaaat?  Rafa had seen Yolanda dress this way a million times before and had no problem with it, she was in total shock and her excitement for the day had gone just as if someone let the air out of a balloon.   Now it was obvious that Rafa WAS nervous and, as it turns out, had some expectations for how the day would go…but did not tell Yolanda what these expectations were.

So what happened next?  Does Yolanda listen to her Inner Chingona, leave her outfit on, and risk that Rafa decides not to take her, or that if he takes her, not introduce her properly to his familia?  Does Ms. Paz pay a visit to the situation, and have Yolanda change her outfit to ‘keep the peace’ and leave the pathway open for Inner Chillona to bring tears, resentment, frustration to the mix?  I swear that I forgot to ask how the story really ended, how do I end this story?

#InnerChingona

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