I was watching a documentary about "Narcocorridos" (drug ballads) a couple years ago, a phenomenon in Mexico where the artist is commissioned by the cartel to write songs about their exploits. In an age in which no artists can make an independent living, Mexican songwriters often fall prey to the temptation. Not only do they get paid for the fruits of the labors of their actual talents, they often get rich. The cartels will gift them with golden pistols, drugs, girls, money, and other bounty. It would be hard to resist. In a world of ever-narrowing options, what are your choices? In the U.S., "lucky" people with musical talent get to choose between hosting the open mic until they die, or selling out to the Illuminati shills and pasting satanic one-eye symbols all over everything. Even successful bands like Calexico, who've been in business for at least 25 years and have a built-in fanbase, fall prey to the DEVIL CARTEL. Apparently. As someone who's lived in cars and vans for many years, I simply don't understand how a legacy-brand band like Calexico feels the need to "sell out" to the Illuminati power grab. Can't they just release the album themselves? It's bad enough to see young people doing it, but watching proven groups like Calexico allow one-eye symbolism into their videos fills me with furious boredom.
I think it's pure spoiled laziness on Calexico's part. They're not sitting in a small, dusty town in Michoacán with no options. They're professional artists and recording industry veterans of the highest level. If they had to choose between working in a strawberry field for subsistence-level slave wages or actually having the opportunity to use their talents and get crazy rich from it, I would give them a pass. And/or at least blame the people who undermined their ability to make an independent living by taking the fruits of their labors for free. Which is theft. But if you have a built-in fanbase, you have no excuse.
One of their new songs, which is simply beautiful:
I've been a Calexico fan for a long time. Losing my cassette tape of Hot Rail/Feast of Wire, which I recorded from CD for travel purposes years ago, is a loss I still feel. Some delincuentes broke into my van in Guanajuato and stole a few trophy items. They left some unusual stuff behind, but took some things which I still miss.
My Hot Rail/Feast of Wire tape is high on that list.
Anyway, if Calexico can't do it without giving a tip-of-the-hat the the devil, these Mexican guys have no choice. As everybody knows, even the cops are half-owned by the cartels. Patrick Bet-David had an ex-Tijuana cop on his show, and the guy said that often they're given a simple choice: Plata o Plomo. Silver or Lead.
Take the money, or we blow your brains out.
Not much of a choice.
So, in lieu of having the opportunity to make an independent living on their own terms, songwriters in Mexico are often trapped in a feudal system. Like court jesters of old, who performed at the whims of the king, Mexican songwriters are "commissioned" by their masters to write songs that glorify and immortalize their undertakings. The price of selling your talents to another king is death. Or, maybe, you get the attention of his girlfriend, or wife. Dangerous ground, indeed. Or maybe your lyrics offend another cartel, and they come for you. It's almost like there's no way out. No way to win. Plata o plomo. Silver or lead. Which do you choose?
Death, or death?
Some articles on the topic:
Who Is Killing Mexican Musicians?
13 Bone-Chilling Murders Of Mexican Folk Musicians
And some Narcocorridos, para su placer de escuchar:
And a Sinaloan tour bus I saw on a highway in Nayarit. If you want to make sure the police never bother you, buy a Sinaloan tour bus.
Anyway, someone left a comment under the documentary I was watching. They were wondering why people can't write corridos about something useful. Why can't they write about something that will help and encourage and educate young people, such as science? Why are there no "Corridos de Ciencia?"
Even though I can't imagine an interesting piece of music that sings the praises of science, or even mentions it ("Higgs Boson Blues" notwithstanding), I thought it was an interesting question. Why not write a song about something other than love, women, or drugs? Which are all the same thing, but whatever.
I guess Monty Python did it. Remember when comedians used to be talented and funny? Ah, the good old days.
I remember watching an appearance of Eric Idle on a late-night American talk show 20 or so years ago, in which he performed a song with the witty phrase, "bipolar bears," and marveling at the moribund blankness of the crowd. You could tell he was trying, and he was doing everything within his power to break the thick wall of ignoromic brick before him, but it was useless. I actually pitied him. It's almost like the crowd was begging to be insulted by humorless feminists who think having a monopoly over the movies, music, thoughts, and entertainment value of basically the entire culture is yet more proof of their state of unconditional oppression, rather than entertained by someone with genuine intelligence and wit. I thought it was a great performance, if not an unwasted one.
Like it or not, you got the culture you paid for. Independent artists have to step-and-fetch to their hamhanded, gold-plated overlords if they're going to get out of the strawberry fields and onto the stage. Thus the lack of interesting, talented, and dare I say "diverse" entertainment today. It's all a one-note, one-eyed dope nod to the would-be "light bringer" who is in fact the King Douchebag of the Universe. Meaning Satan, of course. Perhaps John Lennon was cursing the world by singing "Strawberry Fields Forever." Maybe he should have sang "Musicians Free To Sing What They Want Without Fear Of Reprisal From Their Narco-Feminist Overlords, Forever," instead.
Strawberry fields...... forever? I don't care how it looks on 10 tabs of Orange Sunshine with a million dollars in the bank, John Lennon. In real life, it's a drag. Strawberry fields forever. Enjoy the daily slog. Thanks a lot, John Lennon. He should have changed the title to "Peanut Fields Forever." As in, "after you get done breaking your back picking strawberries all day, we'll deign to compensate you with some peanuts. Feel free to leave a tip jar at your feet for the duration of the performance." They actually say that out loud. The bar owners, I mean. As though they were paying you so much and doing you such a favor by letting you stand in the corner of their alcohol bunker for the price of 2 PBRs per band member that they need to give you permission to beg for handouts from the audience. While Eric Idle sings lyrics that pass over their heads like low-flying planes, the owners hand you the golden minigun of artistic subservience, which they will turn on you and unload all the plata and plomo your body can hold, at about 1000 rounds a second, which is the rate of fire for perfect hatred. Which, as Bukowski rightly observed, is "their finest art."
And some interesting footage of a band getting paid at the end of the night. The band puts up a noble fight at the 1:22 mark, but in the end they all get wasted:
If you're down with the freeload, enjoy your free download.
In any case, this question of artistic existentialism inspired me to write a "Cielocorrido," or a "Ballad of Heaven." So I proceeded to write "El Corrido de Jesucristo." The Ballad of Jesus Christ. The lyrics are pasted below, first in Spanish, then in English. Other than these articles, I haven't written much of anything in a long time. And with one exception, all my new songs over the last several years have been in Spanish. Not only do I find a newcomer's kick at discovering rhymes like "dinero" and "guerrero," I very much enjoy the perfect, artless poetry in the translation. I wrote about it several years ago in an article entitled "Going Soon In Aztlán (The Best English Lyrics Are Translations of Spanish Lyrics)," if you're interested in reading more. Or less, as the case may be, since it's an early article on the topic, and my knowledge of Spanish-language music was limited to 3 or 4 songs.
But it's something that's interested me for awhile now. It would be hard for my English-language mind to write "all good people and bastards need His forgiveness,"
or, "away from this world of many sorrows, into an eternity of smiles and flowers." In Spanish though, it rhymes. In Spanish, pain and flowers rhyme. How great is that? It's my new songwriting puzzle. One I've been driven to by two factors:
1. Genuine interest, and
2. Decades of artistic subjugation to a culture run by narco-feminists. The burn-out is real. Not only has my muse beat me to Heaven, but my taste for the process has been completely lost. Staring down the barrel of a thousand jealous, angry halfwits-on-a-power-trip has driven the desire to write completely out of me. Not because I've never done it and have a delusional, haughty, self-important opinion of myself; rather, because I've already written the song a hundred times. I've done it for free a thousand times already. My ability to do it for free, again, has been beaten completely out of me. All they give is peanuts. Peanuts and plomo. Like the "plata o plomo" compromise, it's a lose-lose proposition, but, well, I'm not going to say I prefer the Narcos. I've never dealt with the Narcos. They are domestic terrorists in the truest sense of the phrase. But tell me which one you prefer, a Netflix serial about murderous drug lords, or feminists? Would you rather watch a brutal movie about Pablo Escobar, or comedy night with Amy Schumer?
The question hangs naked in the air like a guitar player from a Juárez overpass.
Answer the compromise in the way that suits you best.
Thanks for listening.
El Corrido de Jesucristo
Es una canción sobre Dios
del amor en el mundo de frios
donde muerte y dolor es la ley
pero Jesus volverá como el rey
Su poder es mas de la poder de la muerte
su amor es total y muy fuerte
todas las personas bien y cabrones
necesitas su perdónes
Murió en la cruz, está terminado
el pago por todos nuestros pecados
no necesitas un sacerdote o dinero
no necesitas ser fuerte o un guerrero
Jesús murió por los pecados
de todos de los pecadores
Pregúntarle a tu corazón
y él será tu amigo y Salvador
Y serás libre para siempre
y en tu corazón ten paz y calma
y como tratan de lastimarte
nunca robarán tu alma
Cuéntales a todos tus amigos sobre él
tus padres y hermanos
tus abuelos y hermanas
y todos los niños pequeños
Él traerá a todos tus hijos al cielo
a la tierra de leche y miel
donde los perros y gatos son amigos
con los serpientes y animales peligrosos
Donde ya no hay tristeza ni llanto
no más muerte y no más tontos
lejos de este mundo de muchos dolores
en una eternidad de sonrisas y flores
© Nathan Payne
28 June 2020
The Ballad of Jesus Christ
This is a song about God
of love in the cold world
where death and pain is the law
but Jesus will return as the king
The power of Him is more than the power of death
his love is total and very strong
all good people and bastards
need His forgiveness
He died on the cross; it is finished
paying for all our sins
you don't need a priest or money
you don't need to be strong or a warrior
Jesus died for the sins
of all of the sinners
ask Him into your heart
and He will be your Friend and Savior
And you will be free forever
and in your heart have peace and calm
and however they try to hurt you
they will never steal your soul
tell all your friends about it
your parents and siblings
your grandparents and sisters
and all the little kids
He will bring all your children to heaven
to the land of milk and honey
where cats and dogs are friends
with snakes and dangerous animals
Where there is no longer sadness or crying
no more death and no more fools
away from this world of many sorrows
in an eternity of smiles and flowers
© Nathan Payne
28 June 2020