Americans Recording Mexican Songs

The Bueno, the Bad and the Muy Ugly

Ted Kennedy: The Know Nothing nation nearly exploded when clips of the Massachusetts senator singing in Spanish on El Piolín's show hit the Internet and when he sang again at various campaign stops for Barack Obama. They theorized Ted was drunk, that he was butchering some romantic serenade, but the lovable liberal lush actually did a pretty good job with "¡Ay Jalisco, No Te Rajes!" ("Jalisco, Don't Chicken Out!"), a mariachi song immortalized by Javier Solis and made popular in los Estados Unidos when it appeared in Disney's 1944 propaganda effort, The Three Caballeros.

Big Walter Horton and Ronnie Earl: All you hear about nowadays is that Mexicans and blacks hate each other. Both sides should shut up and listen to the cross-­cultural love that surfaces when these two blues legends do an awesome version of "La Cucaracha," a rendition so great, I dare say it's the greatest "La Cucaracha" not played out of a car horn.

Robert Ealey: Also in this black and brown, two-tone vein, we have late Fort Worth bluesman Robert Ealey's "Tica," which finds the north Texas boogie king declaring his love for a fair señorita in what sounds very much like, but is most definitely not, actual Spanish. "Siño no noma tita," Ealey begins. "Sico camba ñe-yeeer." Later he shouts some even more garbled faux-Spanish encouragement to his guitarist. The whole thing is too sweet-natured and funny to cause offense.

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