The assumed lifestyle issues (my own issues, that is) surrounding Los Lobos would become a major stumbling block. Even after I heard some of their offshoot band records and kind of liked what I heard, I couldn’t get past my own lack of ease with the sensual world and what I’d been projecting on the band. Even when I drank I was never the kind of guy who could get laid, for instance, just for the sake of getting laid. Partners had to meet my rigid, shallow physical standards and offer the hope for romance. I’m not proud of how I was, but I’m not going to pretend that music alone has been an inhibitor of my ability to ♥ Los Lobos. Inside I’m like a proper British guy. I strongly identify with many of the characters Alec Guiness played. Let’s not cut corners: being hung-up and didactic are general blues/roots-rock inhibitors.
For years I also had an aversion to the musical side of Latino culture. I still don’t easily take to salsa music, mojitos, and assorted Caribbean islands fashion, but being an East Coast guy I didn’t have a feel for Mexican culture as something distinct from the flashy stuff I’d associated with Hispanics from the various islands. About all I knew in my bones about Mexican culture was Mexican food, which I ♥, and Fernando Valenzuela, who was also A-1 Steak Sauce in my book. Years ago I saw some John Sayles film, I believe, that was set in Mexico. There were some scenes with cool Mexican folk tunes playing in the background. The music sounded amazing. It was nothing like the various forms of Caribbean music I’d heard over the years, all that swishy, gaudy, percussive stuff that, to my ears, sounded like Earth, Wind & Fire in Spanish. This Mexican folk music was loose and open, and guitar based. I could grab it. I pledged to track down the soundtrack to that movie, but I never found it. Fifteen years later I can’t even remember the name of the movie.
I continued to spin my Los Lobos records a couple of times a year, in hopes that I would one day unlock their joys. A Saturday afternoon a couple of months ago my wife and boys seemed in need of a unifying pick me up. I declared it would be Taco Night, always a favorite with our boys as it had been for me and my brother when our Mom declared Taco Night growing up.
“You guys do your own thing,” I declared, “and let me prepare a dinner that will blow your mind.”