Sunday, November 8, 2009


Manu Chao is considered the Bob Marley of the new millennium. This musical chameleon now carries the torch that was left behind by the late, great dread locked rasta. Manu took off like a phoenix out of the remains of Mano Negra, and now unites listeners around the world.

When I studied abroad in Mexico, I saw his tour t-shirts everywhere I went. He even attracts crowds in the United States. A buddy of mine saw Manu at Lollapalooza in 2006. Though he didn't know who the performer was, my friend says that women lined the front row with beads and trinkets crying when he hit the stage.

With Mano Negra gone, Manu traveled the world making music everywhere he went. As he soaked up the different cultures, he worked to recreate local street sounds. This guy actually sustained a living by doing what we all dream of. He's what all those beach bums playing guitar on the boardwalk aspire to be.

The result was Clandestino -- a hodgepodge recording of deep meanings and mere nonsense in several languages mashed together. From "Lagrimas de Oro" to "La Vie a 2," this album defined Manu's diverse, unifying sound. Even if you don't speak every language in a song, the parts you understand are enough to keep you listening.

The track "Bongo Bong" is a remix of the Mano Negra song "King of Bongo." This reinvention is what keeps Manu Chao so fresh. He's so influential, British pop star Robbie Williams covered the song with Lilly Allen. Que divertido!

Manu continued to remold his music style with his next album, ...Proxima Estacion...Esperanza. From start to finish, this album flows together like one long track narrated in a common language. Songs like "Merry Blues" and "Promiscuity" are reason enough for English speakers to give Manu a try. He even honors his legendary predecessor with the tune "Mr. Bobby."

Not only does Manu successfully reproduce the sounds of the regions he visits, but he even captures the people and culture in his music videos. Low budget but effectual, videos like "Me Llaman Calle" reinforce his presence among people of the world. Originally a Mano Negra song, Manu remixed it and Time named it the #8 song of 2007.

Concluding Argument
I've said about all I can about this amazing man. Manu Chao's music does not conform to national boundaries. He unites people from areas of the world who speak different languages. Like Bob Marley before him, Manu seeks to unite the world through music. If you still don't give him a listen, then this blog entry was a failure.

Lista Part Dos
Ending on a happy note, here are a few more Manu songs to check out. I already mentioned most of his hits, but be sure to watch "Me Gustas Tu" and "La Chinita." The songs are easy Spanish and the videos are great!

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