Song of the Week: “Cesar Chavez” by El Vez

by Douglas Cowie on 24 November 2017

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Cesar Chavez” by El Vez:

I’ve listened a few times lately to the 1994 album Graciasland by the self-styled Mexican Elvis, El Vez. A casual listen, coupled with the album title (and cover art) could easily lead you to think Graciasland is a novelty album, but the genius of it, for fourteen songs, is that it’s really only pretending to be a novelty album; it’s really a concept album.

Graciasland is a fourteen-song love letter to rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s also a fourteen-song party album, and it’s also a fourteen-song protest album built on a fourteen-song history lesson.  It uses a superficial silliness to open a door to a good-time trawl through the history of rock ‘n’ roll, which opens a door to whipsmart lyrics that take you through the history and politics of Mexico and Mexican-Americans. It’s among the smartest, funnest, and best albums made in the 1990s, as repeated listening more than twenty years down the line show you.

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