Sing Your Heart Out: Chavela Vargas
In a recent post on this site entitled “La Rancherita”, Churpa included a rather offhanded link to a YouTube video of Freddy Fender’s smash hit, Rancho Grande. (Look carefully for the link buried in her phrase, “…without thinking of this….”)
Churpa added that Fender’s song was “possibly one of my favorite songs ever”.
Well, this is just the sort of provocative waffling that I simply can’t tolerate, especially in a website with standards-of-excellence as high as ours. What’s it going to be, Churpa: is Fender’s version of Rancho Grande one of your all-time favorites or not? Or do you prefer something from The Tijuana Brass instead?
Frankly, I see this casual treatment of a legendary singer as a challenge to all People’s Guide lovers of Mexican music. It is high time that we declare our favorite singers and songs — and no more messing about with vague commitments like “possibly” and “perhaps”.
Which brings me straight to Chavela Vargas, who just happens to be right near the top of my all-time favorite singers and song writers. (The absolute top spot will be revealed in due course. I should warn you, however, that my favorite singer is almost certainly better than all others.)
You can read a good summary of Chavela’s remarkable career on Wikipedia. What isn’t included in that article is her most recent triumph: this week, at age 94, Chavela Vargas presented her latest work in Tepotzlan, a tribute to Federico García Lorca.
Here she is, performing the song written for Frida Kahlo, supposedly Chavela’s former lover.