Hey there. It's been a while. And it was a while before that. And before that. And &c....
I've been spending the past week sweeping the dust out of the corners and straightening the tablecloths on this blog, trying to get it ready for renewed updating, if not on a strict schedule, then at least with some regularity. If you flip back through the archives (easier to do now, if you scroll down and look to the right), you'll see that I've beefed up the single/album art and removed the shoddy mp3-streaming interface which only ever worked on some browsers, replacing it with links to YouTube clips and Wikipedia articles. (Please let me know if you come across anything that doesn't work.)
It's coming up on seven years since I first launched this blog, and three since I last updated it regularly; why start up again now, when the internet is littered with half-finished monuments to best-laid schemes gang way, way agley? Social media doesn't care; the corporate internet doesn't care; venture-capital-funded fandom-driven internet entertainment media doesn't care. If it's not this minute's hashtag, it's yesterday's news. Well, that indifference is one good reason. I started this blog because I realized that nobody I knew or read cared about Latin music, and I thought I might be able to. I'm stubborn, or eccentric, that way; show me an unattended-to plot of culture, and I make a beeline for it. And everyone else still doesn't care, and I still do.
Which is to say that my world is much more Hispano- and Ibero-centric now than it was seven years ago, or even three. I've extensively refreshed my Spanish over the last several years, and started learning Portuguese, and reading Spanish and Portuguese literature, and listening to Hispanophone and Lusophone music almost more than Anglophone. I visited Guatemala again for the first time in twenty years last month, and am still processing a lot from that trip. Latin Pop fits much more clearly and neatly into my world than it used to, and I want it to be even more important to me.
But the main reason is that Juan Gabriel died last week, and I was struck with a grief I hadn't expected — because I hadn't known who he was before I started this blog. I still haven't heard most of his vast catalog; but I've returned to the songs I learned of here, and several others, many times over the years, with increasing respect and affection. And as I sat refreshing Twitter and watching all my music-writer friends gear up for the MTV Awards, I started to get mad. The deaths of David Bowie and Prince (both of whom I adore) earlier this year had stopped the world in its tracks; why should Juan Gabriel, at least as important in his field as they were in theirs, not get the same respect?
I know why. You do too.
I can't do much about centuries of racism, monolingualism, and ethnocentrism, but I've done what I could. Here is my tribute to the man, including several songs I first learned about here; I'm deeply grateful to the volunteers who chipped in to round out my (still limited, still blinkered) understanding.
I have the next several posts all written up, catching us up to 2000, and will be rolling them out over the next few weeks. Since I've done away with the mp3s, creating posts should be far less of a hassle, even as the music itself has never been more available. Inevitably for a blog that's taken such long hiatuses and involved such a steep learning curve, I am not remotely the same person who started writing back in 2010. Hopefully I know more, and am less obtuse or easily-bored or arrogant than the person who wrote so much of the foregoing (cleaning up the posts has involved a lot of being embarrassed by my former opinions); hopefully, too, I can be more perceptive, maybe even more entertaining.