Friday, November 6, 2009

Manu el Magnifico

Manu Chao is the musician known as el pirata. No, he doesn't commandeer other artists' songs. This musical nomad is known for swashbuckling around the globe to the tune of his own inexplicable style. He's such a force in the international circuit, I have to dedicate two entries to the man.

El Pirata
How many languages does your favorite musician speak? One? Two if you're a hipster, three if you're an elitist. Well, Manu sings in five, fluently... seven if you count Gaelician and Wolof. I can honestly say that I had to Google that language just to see where it's spoken. Yeah, his music is like nothing you've ever heard before.

Since I started writing this blog, I've always mentioned an artist's major fanbase in the Spanish-speaking world. Just to emphasize, Manu Chao's reach extends throughout Europe and into Africa, as well. But how did this Spanish vagabond start?

Mano Negra
His first band's name translates to "Black Fist," the name of a resistance movement in Andalucia. The 19th century rebels are not well documented, and neither is the band. Their music video for King of Bongo shows just how far music videos have come since the late 80s. Yikes.

So maybe music videos ruin this band's image, but maybe that's why Mano Negra never caught on in the United States. Their live performances won over audiences everywhere else though. I guess performing on your tour boat will do that. Imagine seeing an international group at your nearest port city. If that's not enough, how about traveling around Columbia via retired passenger train?

As inventive and intriguing as Mano Negra was, the nearly 10-member band soon ran out of steam. I guess some success in the U.S. market is necessary to remain relevant in the music scene. That's alright, Manu persevered and is now a world icon.

Cumbia del Tiempo
In honor of Manu's individuality, I'm going to break up the lista between posts. Here's a couple Mano Negra tracks to hold you over. I skipped videos though, because these songs are too good to be brought down by cheesy visuals.

Se continua...

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